John Wilson had a brief career as a priest, serving as the curate at Cocking from about 1742 to 1753, followed by three years as rector at Combes, after which he retired into obscurity.
John Wilson was born in 1713 at Chedworth, a few miles north of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. He was baptised at St Andrew’s church on 24 May 1713, the son of Joseph and Mary Wilson.
John Wilson matriculated on 3 April 1734, aged 20, and studied at Queen’s College, Oxford from where he graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1737.
On 29 December 1740, he married Elisabeth Blunden (two years his senior) at Midhurst’s St Mary Magdalene and St Denys Church. Their first child, named John after his father, was born the following autumn and baptised at Midhurst church on 5 November 1741.
John Wilson first appears in the Cocking parish registers on 17 June 1745, when he officiated at the funeral of Martha Hewet “not of this parish”. It is probable, however, that he was appointed in 1742, when the vicar, Thomas Hutchinson was also appointed rector at Horsham.
In the Cocking baptism register which had been closed in 1707, John Wilson included several baptisms that had originally been omitted for 1706 and 1707, with a side note: “N.B. I found this book thus imperfect. John Wilson”.
On 21 August 1750, John and Elisabeth Wilson’s second son, William, was baptised at Cocking. John Wilson originally signed the register as “The Reverend John Wilson”, but the first two words were subsequently deleted and initialled by him.
John Wilson was instituted as rector of the rural parish of Combes, near Pulborough on 1 March 1750 by Matthias Mawson, Bishop of Chichester, but resigned this appointment on 27 January 1753.
Wilson’s final appearance in the Cocking parish register was at a baptism on 7 May 1752. His replacement as curate, Robert Robson was licensed in July 1753.
Nothing is known about his later life, until John Wilson was buried in his home village, Chedworth on 18 April 1772, aged 58.
His widow, Elisabeth, was buried at Trotton, near Rogate on 7 September 1777.
Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538–1813
Oxford University Alumni, 1500–1886
British History Online: Coombes Church
Challen, W.H. The Parish Register of Cocking, Sussex (1558–1837) pp. 51, 59–60, 109
Clergy of the Church of England Database: 71874. Wilson, John (1750–1753)