John Mason (diplomat)

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John Mason
Sir John Mason (1503–1566).jpg
Painting of Sir John Mason attributed to Sampson Strong, 1607. From the collection of Christ's Hospital, Abingdon
Born c. 1503
Abingdon, Berkshire, England
Died 20 April 1566
London, England
Nationality British
Other names Sir John Mason
Occupation Diplomat, spy, MP
Known for Chancellor of the University of Oxford

Sir John Mason (1503 – 20 April 1566) was an English diplomat and spy.


Origins and education[edit]

Mason was born to humble parents in Abingdon in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) in 1503. His father is said to have been a cowherd,[1] his mother was the sister of a monk at Abingdon Abbey; possibly Thomas Rowland, the last abbot.[2] Alternatively, there are rumours that Mason was, in fact, the abbot's illegitimate son.[3]

Whatever his family connection to the boy, Rowland played an important role in his education, sending him to the abbey school, followed by All Souls College, Oxford, where he became a Fellow in 1521, got his B.A. on 8 July 1521, and his M.A. on 21 February 1525.[4] He was also ordained as an acolyte in 1521.

At Oxford he attracted the attention of Sir Thomas More, who prevailed upon Henry VIII to appoint him King's scholar in Paris, with an annual allowance of £3 6s 8d, which was doubled in 1531.[1] His income was further boosted by the addition of the first of many ecclesiastical benefices: the rectory of Kingston Bagpuize in Berkshire.[2]

Career[edit]

He became Chancellor of Oxford University for the periods 1552-1556 and 1559-1564.

He was Member of parliament for Reading (UK Parliament constituency) in 1547, and for Hampshire (UK Parliament constituency) on four occasions between 1554 and 1563.[5][6]

He worked for several Tudor monarchs collecting information from the Continent and as a diplomat. He was knighted by Edward VI and made Dean of Winchester.

John Mason School, a secondary school in Abingdon, is named after him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b * Pollard, Albert Frederick (1893). "Mason, John (1503-1566)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ a b "Mason, Sir John (c.1503–1566)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18278.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ *"Sir John Mason". Abingdon Area Achaelogical and Historical Society. Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council. 2013. 
  4. ^ Foster, Joseph (1891). Alumni Oxonienses; the members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714 3. University of Oxford. p. 983. 
  5. ^ Baker, T. F. T. (1982). "Mason, Sir John". In Bindoff, S. T. The House of Commons 1509-1558. The History of Parliament Trust. 
  6. ^ Harding, Alan (1981). "Mason, Sir John". In Hasler, P. W. The House of Commons 1558-1603. The History of Parliament Trust. 

External links[edit]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard Cox
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
1552–1556
Succeeded by
Reginald Pole
Preceded by
Earl of Arundel
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
1559–1564
Succeeded by
Earl of Leicester
Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Grey
John Marshe
Member of Parliament for Reading
1547
With: John Marshe
Succeeded by
John Bourne
John Winchcombe
Preceded by
Sir Thomas White
Nicholas Tichborne
Member of Parliament for Hampshire
1554 (Apr)
With: Sir Thomas White
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas White
John Norton
Preceded by
Sir Thomas White
John Norton
Member of Parliament for Hampshire
1558–1566
With: Sir Thomas White (1558–1562)
William Uvedale (1562–1566)
Succeeded by
Sir John Berkeley
William Uvedale