Tolson was elected Provost (head) of Oriel College, Oxford on 29 June 1621, a post he held until his death in 1644. During his time as Provost of Oriel College, he was also Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. In 1642, at the start of the English Civil War, the Vice-Chancellor John Prideaux left Oxford to take up his position as Bishop of Worcester without formally resigning. His duties were discharged by the Pro-Vice-Chancellors Robert Pincke and then John Tolson. On 7 February 1643, Tolson formally became Vice-Chancellor.
- Salter, H. E. and Lobel, Mary D., ed. (1954). "Oriel College and St. Mary Hall". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 119–131. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- University of Oxford (1888). "Vice-Chancellors". The Historical Register of the University of Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 21–27. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
|Provost of Oriel College, Oxford
|Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
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