WATSON, John, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. and Lincoln's Inn, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

?s. of John Watson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. educ. L. Inn, adm. 29 May 1550.3

Offices Held


A John Watson sat for each of the Northumbrian boroughs in three of the Parliaments summoned between 1547 and 1554, but whether the name. covers one, two or even three individuals has not been established.

Least difficult to trace is the Member for Newcastle in the Parliament of November 1554. Named on the torn indenture as ‘[blank] Watson, gentleman, of Lincoln’s Inn’, he is given the christian name ‘Johannes’ on a copy of the Crown Office list. He was clearly the John Watson admitted to the inn on 29 May 1550 and, with no one else of his surname found there during these years, doubtless also the ‘Mr. Watson’ elected escheator of the inn for the year 1552-3. His appearance on the pardon roll of 1559 as ‘of Lincoln’s Inn ... alias late of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’ shows that his affiliation with that town was not limited to his election there. So much might have been inferred from the preponderance of townsmen among Newcastle’s Members, especially as Watson had been elected to a Parliament which the Queen wished to see composed of such Members. He was almost certainly related to the John Watson who was the town’s sheriff in 1523 and to another who was sheriff in 1567 and mayor in 1574, but he is scarcely to be identified with the second of these, who had made his way as a merchant adventurer while the Member followed the law— this is probably why the election indenture contains the distinguishing suffix. He cannot be certainly traced among the several John Watsons who lived and died at Newcastle during the last quarter of the century nor among those in or near London.4

Whether Watson had already sat for Berwick is partly a question of chronology. His name as that of the town’s second Member in the Parliament of 1547 is known only from the list compiled before the opening of its final session in January 1552, so that its bearer may either have sat from the beginning or have been by-elected. Since Watson is unlikely to have gained a seat before he entered his inn, his identification with the Member for Berwick presupposes a by-election there in or after 1550, a hypothesis which accords well with the suggestion that George Willoughby had been one of that town’s Members; by then his London domicile could have commended him as a suitable replacement. Failing him, no eligible namesake has been found. There were Watsons at Berwick, but after the Thomas Watson who was one of the Twelve at the earliest recorded guild meeting in 1506 none of them appears to have made any mark in the town, while the contemporary John Watsons in the county seem equally insignificant.5

Whoever sat for Berwick in this Parliament could have done so in either or both of its successors of 1553, for which the names of the Members are lost. It was to the second of them that Morpeth elected a John Watson as its senior Member. This was the first occasion on which the borough made a return, and the presumption is that patronage lay with its lord, the 3rd Lord Dacre of Gilsland; the second Member in October 1553, William Ward II, was almost certainly his nominee. Although John Watson of Lincoln’s Inn had no known connexion with Dacre or with Morpeth, another member (or ex-member) of the inn, Cuthbert Horsley, who was himself to sit for both Newcastle and Morpeth, as well as for the shire, could have promoted his election there. As at Berwick there is no local John Watson who invites consideration, although a family of that name had furnished the town with a bailiff half a century before and would do so again after a similar lapse of time.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. J. Taylor


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. The christian name missing from the torn indenture (C219/23/174), is supplied from Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 3. Vis. Northumb. ed. Foster, 122.
  • 4. Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 304; CPR, 1558-60, p. 162; J. Brand, Newcastle, ii. 444, 446; Newcastle Merchant Adventurers 1 (Surtees Soc. xciii), 93; ii (ibid. ci), 199; Wills and Inventories. iii (ibid. cxii), 61-62, 94, 147, 164; PCC 3 Brudenell, 24 Dixy, 82 Montague, 22 Tirwhite, 9 Wrastley.
  • 5. J. Scott, Berwick, 259, 456, 458, 460; Northumb. Co. Hist. ii. 38; xv. 320.
  • 6. Arch. Ael. (ser. 4), xiv. 61, 65.