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Robert Townson

Priest and Dean

Robert Townson (or Tounson) was buried just outside the chapel of St Edmund in Westminster Abbey but he never had a monument or inscribed gravestone. He was born in Cambridge and educated there, son of Reynold Toulnesson. He became vicar of Wellingborough and later a royal chaplain. He was installed as Dean of Westminster in 1617 where he was known as an excellent preacher. A strict dress code for the congregation was enforced during his short decanate. He also attended Sir Walter Raleigh in the Gatehouse Prison, just outside the west front of the Abbey, and prayed with him just before his execution in 1618, admiring the gaiety with which Walter approached his death. Robert was consecrated bishop of Salisbury in 1620 and died, possibly of smallpox, on 15th May 1621.

His wife was Margaret Davenant (died 1634) and they had many children of whom George and Barbara were baptised in the Abbey but probably died young. Other children were Edward, Ralph, Margaret, Ellen, Anne, Judith, Bridget, Gertrude and Mary. Robert junior became a prebendary of Salisbury and he and his brother John leased tenements near the Abbey and Margaret was granted the lease of the old Anchorite's house in the churchyard of St Margaret's Westminster.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Died

15th May 1621

Field

Priest; dean

Location

South Amulatory

Memorial Type

Grave

Robert Townson
South Ambulatory

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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