John Parsons (bishop)
|The Right Reverend
|Bishop of Peterborough|
|Diocese||Diocese of Peterborough|
|Other posts||Dean of Bristol (1810–1813)|
6 July 1761|
|Died||12 March 1819
|Buried||Balliol College, Oxford|
|Education||Magdalen College School, Oxford|
|Alma mater||Wadham College, Oxford|
He was son of Isaac Parsons, butler of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and his wife Alice; born in the parish of St Aldate's, Oxford, he was baptised in St Aldate's Church on 6 July 1761. He received his early education, first at the school attached to Christ Church, Oxford, and subsequently at Magdalen College School. In his 16th year, he was admitted to Wadham College on 26 June 1777, and was elected a scholar of the college on 30 June 1780. He graduated B.A. in 1782, and M.A. in 1785. His other degrees were B.D. and D.D., both in 1799. He was elected Fellow of Balliol College on 29 November 1785, and in July 1797 was presented by the college to the united livings of All Saints and St Leonard's, Colchester. On the 14 November 1798, he was elected Master of Balliol, an office he held till his death. From 1807 to 1810, he was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.
An academic reformer, he made college examination a reality, and in conjunction with John Eveleigh, Provost of Oriel College he gave a lead to the University, elaborating the examination Statute of 1801, by which university honours were for the first time awarded for real merit; and he was one of the first examiners, the earliest class list under the new system appearing in 1802. He was for many years a leading member of the Hebdomadal board. Richard Jenkyns, who succeeded him as Master, was tutor under him, and when Parsons was made a bishop was appointed Vice-Master, seconding his administration of the College. In national politics, he was a strong Tory, firmly opposed to Catholic emancipation. He was the senior of the three heads of houses who, on the death of William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland in 1809, proposed John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon for the chancellorship of the university, to which William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville was elected.
In 1810, he was appointed to the deanery of Bristol, and in 1812 he was presented to the chapter living of Weare in Somerset, which he held in commendam till his death. In 1813, he was raised to the bishopric of Peterborough, on the death of Spencer Madan, helped by the influence of Lord Eldon. He supported the National Society for the Education of the Poor, with Provost Eveleigh; and Parsons, together with Joshua Watson, is credited with drawing up in 1812 the terms of union for the district committees of the provincial schools.
In the House of Lords he seldom spoke, but was active on committees. He died at Oxford on 12 March 1819, and was buried in the chapel of Balliol College, where a monument was erected.
Only two of his sermons were printed; all his manuscript sermons were burnt after his death, by his express desire. In the acrimonious controversy concerning the 1784 Bampton Lectures of Joseph White, the Arabic professor, of which Samuel Badcock was asserted to have been the author, and portions of which were claimed by Samuel Parr, Parsons was appointed one of the arbitrators, but declined to act; and it was believed that he also had a share in the lectures, as Parr knew.
On 22 January 1798, Parsons married Elizabeth Parsons, probably a cousin, at St Aldates church. He left no children by his wife, who survived him.
- H. E. Salter and Mary D. Lobel, ed. (1954). "Balliol College". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 82–95. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Parsons, John (1761-1819)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
|Master of Balliol College, Oxford
|Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
|Church of England titles|
|Dean of Bristol
|Bishop of Peterborough