WATSON, Edward (c.1549-1617), of Rockingham, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1549, o.s. of Edward Watson of Rockingham by Dorothy, da. of Edward Montagu I of Boughton. educ. M. Temple 1567. m. Apr. 1567, Anne (d.1612), da. of Kenelm Digby of Stoke Dry, Rutland, 2s. 8da. suc. fa. 1584. Kntd. 1603.
J.p. Northants. from c.1577, commr. to inquire after seminary priests and Jesuits 1591, sheriff 1591-2, commr. musters 1595, 1596, 1605.
Watson’s position in Northamptonshire was assured not only by the wealth he inherited from his grandfather, who was receiver to three successive bishops of Lincoln and married into the family of one of them, William Smith, but also by his father’s fortunate marriage, through which the family acquired Rockingham and the oversight of the royal forest. Watson himself added considerably to the estate by purchases from Lord Burghley and his son the Earl of Salisbury.
In August 1587 Watson attended the funeral of Mary Stuart. That October he was noted as suspect in religion, and about 1593 he helped a Northamptonshire recusant, Thomas Colwell, to obtain his release from the Fleet prison, and received a letter from another recusant, Sir Thomas Tresham, thanking him for his services. Clearly he conformed to the law and both Catholics and government were able to use his services. His own status, his connexion with the Digbys and his friendship with the Cecils, all contributed to his return for Stamford in 1601. James I was his guest for three days in 1605. In 1613 he made over his estates to his eldest son, Sir Lewis, later 1st Baron Rockingham. Watson died on 1 Mar. 1617.
C. Wise, Rockingham Castle and the Watsons, 19-42; APC, xxiii. 333; xxiv. 41, 354; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 38; M. T. Recs. 161; HMC Var. iii. 33, 61, 75, 77; HMC Bath, v. 83; HMC Buccleuch, iii. 37, 51, 98; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 124; 1601-3, p. 131; 1603-10, p. 554; Nichols, Progresses Jas. I, i. 524; Lansd. 54, f. 178; HMC Rutland, i. 313; HMC Montagu, 106.