vii. 158). He died on 14 June 1616. By his wife, Lilias Gilbert, he left a son John, on whom a baronetcy of Nova Scotia was conferred in 1628, and who, by his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of William Turnbull, became possessor of the lands of Auchie, Fifeshire, on which a mansion-house was erected, named Prestonhall. The baronetcy is now extinct.
[Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. iv.–x.; Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1580–1620; Calderwood's Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, pp. 235–6.]
PRESTON, JOHN, D.D. (1587–1628), puritan divine, son of Thomas Preston, a farmer, was born at Upper Heyford in the parish of Bugbrook, Northamptonshire, and was baptised at Bugbrook church on 27 Oct. 1587. His mother's maiden name was Alice Marsh. Her maternal uncle, Creswell, was mayor of Northampton. Being rich and childless, he adopted Preston, placing him at the Northampton grammar school, and subsequently with a Bedfordshire clergyman named Guest for instruction in Greek. He matriculated as a sizar at King's College, Cambridge, on 5 July 1604, his tutor being Busse, who became master of Eton in 1606. King's College was then famous for the study of music; Preston chose 'the noblest but hardest instrument, the lute,' but made little progress. In 1606 he migrated to Queens' College, where he had as tutor Oliver Bowles, B.D. [see Bowles, Edward]. Creswell had left him the reversion of some landed property,and he thought of a diplomatic career. With this view he entered into treaty with a merchant, who arranged for his spending some time in Paris, but on this merchant's death the arrangement fell through. Preston then turned to the study of philosophy, in which he was encouraged by Porter, who succeeded Bowles as his tutor. By Porter's interest with Tyndal, master of Queens' and dean of Ely, Preston, who had graduated B.A. in 1607, was chosen fellow in 1609. From philosophy he now turned to medicine; got some practical knowledge under the roof of a friend, a physician in Kent, 'very famous for his practice;' and studied astrology, then valued as a handmaid to therapeutics.
About 1611, the year in which he commenced M.A., he heard a sermon at St. Mary's from John Cotton (1585-1652), then fellow of Emmanuel, which opened to him a new career. Cotton had a great reputation as an elegant preacher; but this was a plain evangelical sermon, and disappointed his audience. He returned to his rooms, somewhat mortified by his reception, when Preston knocked at his door, and that close religious friendship began which permanently influenced the lives of both. Preston now gave himself to the study of scholastic divinity; Aquinas seems to have been his favourite; he thoroughly mastered also Duns Scotus and Ockham.
His biographer tells a curious story of his activity in securing the election (1614) of John Davenant [q. v.] as master of Queens' in succession to Tyndal. George Montaigne [q. v.], afterwards archbishop of York, had his eye on this preferment; but immediately on Tyndal's death Preston rode post-haste to London, reaching Whitehall before day-break. Here he made interest with Robert Carr, earl of Somerset [q. v.], with a view to secure court sanction for the choice of Davenant. Returning to Cambridge, he had the election over before Montaigne got wind of the vacancy.
During the visit of James I to Cambridge in March 1615, Preston distinguished himself as a disputant. He was chosen by Samuel Harsnett [q. v.], the vice-chancellor, as 'answerer' in the philosophy act, but this place was successfully claimed by Matthew Wren (1585-1667) [q. v.], and Preston took the post of 'first opponent.' His biographer, Thomas Ball [q. v.], gives an amusing account of the disputation on the question 'Whether dogs could make syllogismes.' Preston maintained that they could. James was delighted with his argument (which Granger thinks Preston borrowed from a well-known passage in Montaigne's 'Essays'), and introduced a dog story of his own. 'It was easy to discerne that ye kings hound had opened a way for Mr. Preston at ye court.' Sir Fulke Greville, first lord Brooke [q. v.], became his firm friend (he ultimately settled 50l. a year upon him). But Preston had by this time given up his early ambition; though he said little of his purpose, his mind was set on the ministry, and he was reading modern divinity, especially Calvin.
His coolness in the direction of court favour gave rise to suspicions of his puritan leaning. These were increased by an incident of James's second visit to Cambridge. A comedy called 'Ignoramus,' by George Ruggle [q. v.] of Clare Hall, was to be acted before the king. Preston's pupil Morgan (of the Morgans of Heyford) was cast for a woman's part. Preston objected; the lad's guardians overruled the objection; Morgan, who was removed to Oxford, subsequently joined the Roman catholic church. His strictness greatly increased his reputation as a tutor with puritan parents; 'he was,' says Fuller,