John Tolson 1576?-1644

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John TOLSON 1576?-1644

Biographical Note

Born in Cumberland. BA Oriel College, Oxford 1593, MA 1599, BD 1611, DD 1622. Vicar of St Mary's Nottingham 1616, rector of Hampton Poyle, Oxfordshire 1619, rector of Marston Sicca, Gloucestershire 1634, canon of St Paul's 1632. Provost of Oriel 1621, vice-chancellor 1643. He oversaw the rebuilding of the front quad and chapel at Oriel, making a significant financial contribution himself. He was drawn into the early stages of the Civil War at Oxford on the royalist side, and would doubtless have suffered deprivation or fines had he lived longer.


In his will, Tolson directed that 30 of his best books should be chosen from his study at the time of his death for Oriel library; should there not be enough not already held, his "unuseful and superfluous" ones should be sold to benefit the library. The total size of his collection is not known; the residue of his goods was left to his nephew Henry Tolson. 21 books are listed in the Oriel donors' book.


  • Foster, J. Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford 1500-1714/1715-1886, 8 vols, Oxford, 1891.
  • Richards, G. & H. Salter (eds), The Dean's register of Oriel, Oxford, 1926, p.251.
  • Roy, I. & D. Reinhart, Oxford and the Civil Wars, chapter 14 in N. Tyacke (ed), The History of the University of Oxford, vol IV, Oxford, 1997.