Rawson took an active part in the work of the Irish privy council; he was ‘an able man and the chief supporter of the government’ (Bagwell); he maintained an establishment second only to that of the lord deputy. In 1532 he took part in the proceedings against Sir William Skeffington [q. v.], and in 1534 was one of the few who remained loyal during Kildare's rebellion [see Fitzgerald, Gerald, ninth Earl of Kildare]; during its course his property was plundered by the insurgents, and he was present at the surrender of Rosse Castle. In 1535 Brabazon recommended him to Cromwell for the lord-chancellorship of Ireland, but the suggestion was not carried out. In 1540 he was one of those who made depositions against lord-deputy Grey, who was accused of openly supporting the Geraldines [see Grey, Lord Leonard]. Meanwhile Henry had resolved to dissolve the order of St. John; after prolonged negotiations Rawson surrendered the priory of Kilmainham, and received in return a pension of five hundred marks, and on 22 Nov. 1541 was created Viscount Clontarff for life. But his health was broken; in 1538 he was described as old and impotent, and after some years of illness he died in 1547, when Oswald Massingberd was appointed by the grand master to succeed him as titular prior of Kilmainham (Whitworth Porter, Knights of St. John, pp. 733–4). The peerages, without giving any authority, state that he lived till 1560, but no mention of him has been found during this period, and his age makes it improbable.
Clontarff left some natural children; a daughter Catherine married Rowland, son of Patrick White, baron of the Irish exchequer, and the Sir John Rawson who frequently occurs in the Irish records during Elizabeth's reign may have been a son. Several of Rawson's letters to Wolsey and others are in the state papers.
[State Papers, Henry VIII, passim; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner, passim; Materials for the Hist. of the Reign of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.), i. 401, 610; Cal. Carew MSS. and Book of Howth, passim; Lascelles's Liber Munerum Hib.; Morrin's Calendar of Patent Rolls, Ireland; Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Soc.), pt. iv.; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl.; Archdall's Mon. Hibernicum, 1786, pp. 244–6, 796; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, vol. i. passim; Abbé Vertot's Hist. of the Knights of Malta, 1728, tom. i. App. p. 154; Whitworth Porter's Knights of St. John pp. 345, 727, 733–4; Gent. Mag. 1856, ii. 179–186; Burke's, Lodge's, and G. E. C.'s Peerages.]
RAWSON, Sir WILLIAM (1783–1827), whose name was originally Adams, oculist, youngest son of Henry Adams, was born at Stanbury in the parish of Morwinstow, Cornwall, on 5 Dec. 1783. He was assistant to John Hill, a surgeon at Barnstaple, and about 1805 came to London to complete his education at St. Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals. John Cunningham Saunders, the demonstrator of anatomy at the former hospital, had just founded the London Infirmary in Charterhouse Square for curing diseases of the eye. Adams attended his demonstrations, and assisted him in the surgical operations at the infirmary. In 1807 he was elected M.R.C.S. of London, and shortly afterwards moved to Exeter, where he established, and became surgeon to, the West of England infirmary for curing eye disease on the lines of the institution at which he had been trained. From that date to 1810 he lived for the most part at Exeter and Bath, but he claimed to have operated successfully at Dublin and Edinburgh. In 1810 he returned to London.
At this date Adams, who was full of energy, suggested to Sir David Dundas, the commander-in-chief, the formation of an institution for the exclusive treatment of pensioners dismissed from the army as blind through Egyptian ophthalmia. In 1813 he encouraged the belief that he had discovered a cure for that complaint, but his enemies affirmed that the discovery had been made by Saunders. Several operations were performed by him in the hospital for seamen at Greenwich, and on the question whether they had been efficacious, and on the originality of his treatment, controversy raged for several years. When Haydon injured his eyesight in 1813 through excessive application to work, he was cured by Adams (Haydon, Correspondence, i. 81); but when Wolcot, at the age of nearly eighty, allowed Adams to operate on his worst eye, the effect was to make him ‘worse off than he was before’ (Redding, Past Celebrities, i. 241). Adams was made surgeon and oculist-extraordinary to the prince regent and to the dukes of Kent and Sussex, and on 11 May 1814 he was knighted at Carlton House. An ophthalmic institution was founded for him on 1 Dec. 1817 in part of the York hospital at Chelsea; and when these premises were found inconvenient, he gratuitously attended, from that date to 1821, numerous cases in a building in the Regent's Park which was used as a hospital, but had been originally constructed by him for the purpose of establishing a manufactory for steam guns. A select