Watson, Robert (1730?-1781) (DNB00)

WATSON, ROBERT (1730?–1781), historian, son of an apothecary and brewer in St. Andrews, was born there about 1730. After studying at St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, he was licensed as a preacher of the Gospel; but having failed to obtain a presentation to one of the churches in St. Andrews, he was shortly afterwards appointed professor of logic in St. Salvator's College, of which he was promoted to be principal in 1777. The same year he was also presented by George III to the church and parish of St. Leonard. In 1777 he published, at London, in two volumes quarto, a ‘History of Philip II of Spain [1548–1598],’ which was praised by Horace Walpole, and had a great temporary popularity, being translated into French, German, and Dutch, and reaching a seventh edition by 1812; the work was subsequently superseded by that of the American historian Prescott. At the time of his death, on 31 March 1781, he was engaged on a ‘History of the Reign of Philip III, King of Spain [1598–1621],’ which was completed by Dr. William Thomson, and published in 1783 (London, 4to; revised edition 1808 and 1839; French translation 1809). This remains useful as filling a gap between Prescott and Coxe.

Watson married, on 29 June 1757, Margaret Shaw, by whom he left five daughters.

[Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Conolly's Eminent Men of Fife; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scoticanæ, ii. 400.]

T. F. H.