Victor Watts

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Victor Watts

Master of Grey College, Durham
In office
Preceded byEric Halladay
Succeeded byMartyn Chamberlain
Personal details
Born(1938-04-18)18 April 1938
Died21 December 2002(2002-12-21) (aged 64)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
EducationBristol Grammar School
Alma materMerton College, Oxford
University of London

Victor Watts, FSA, FRHistS (18 April 1938 – 21 December 2002) was a British toponymist, medievalist, translator, and academic, specialising in English place names. He served as Master of Grey College, Durham from 1989 until his sudden death in 2002. He had been a lecturer in English at Durham University from 1962, honorary director of the English Place-Name Survey from 1993, and editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society from 1996.

Early life and education[edit]

Watts was born on 18 April 1938. He was educated at Bristol Grammar School, then an all-boys independent school in Bristol. He studied at Merton College, Oxford, and at the University of London.[1]

Academic career[edit]

In 1962, Watts jointed Durham University as a lecturer in English language.[1] He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1974.[2] His first association with Grey College, Durham was as a pastoral tutor.[3] Then, from 1984 to 1989, he served as the college's senior tutor and vice-master.[2] In 1989, he was appointed Master of Grey College.[1][3] He was, by his death, one of the longest serving head of college at Durham University.[2] He additionally served as Dean of Colleges, leading the university's 15 colleges, between 1999 and 2002.[2]

Outside of his university, he held a number of positions. He was an active member of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland: he served successively as vice-president and then president of the society between 1983 and 1991.[1] In 1993, he was appointed honorary director of the English Place-Name Survey, and therefore of the English Place-Name Society, in succession to Kenneth Cameron.[4][5] He served as general editor of the society's survey volumes from 1994, and was also editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society from 1996.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Watts had three children with his first wife, Mary Watts: two daughters and a son.[1][2] Having divorced Mary, he later married Elaine; this marriage brought two stepsons.[1]

Watts died on 21 December 2002, aged 64.[1] He had had a heart attack.[1]


Watts had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • Boethius (1999). The Consolation of Philosophy. Translated by Victor Watts. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0140447804.
  • Watts, Victor (2002). A Dictionary of County Durham Place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. ISBN 978-0904889659.
  • Watts, Victor, ed. (2004). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names: based on the collections of the English Place-Name Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521362092.
  • Fuller, David, ed. (2005). Pearl. Translated by Victor Watts. London: Enitharmon Press. ISBN 978-1904634201.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Victor Watts". The Times. 4 February 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Victor Watts 1938-2002: Master of Grey College, Durham". Durham University News. Durham University. 2 January 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Victor Watts". Grey College Association. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Victor Watts". Enitharmon Editions. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  5. ^ Watts, Victor (9 April 2001). "Obituary: Prof Kenneth Cameron". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Eric Halladay
Master of Grey College, Durham
1988 to 2002
Succeeded by
Martyn Chamberlain