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Watson, Brook

British, 1735 - 1807

Brook Watson was born in Plymouth, England, in 1735, the only son of John Watson and his wife, Sarah Schoefield. Brook was orphaned in 1741 and sent to Boston, Massachusetts, to be cared for by a relative, a merchant with ships that traded in the West Indies who sent Watson out as a sailor. In 1749, while swimming in the Havana harbor, young Watson was attacked by a shark who cut off the boy's right leg below the knee before he could be rescued by fellow sailors. He returned to Boston, and took a job on a schooner whose captain was a supplier of provisions to the British army at Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia. Watson settled in Canada as a merchant, and moved in 1759 to London, where he continued his mercantile career, becoming a partner for a time with Joshua Mauger. In 1860 he married Helen Campbell, daughter of Colin Campbell, an Edinburgh goldsmith. They had no children. While sailing from Canada to England in November 1775, Watson accompanied the American prisoner Ethan Allen, who wrote that he "was put under the power of an English Merchant from London, whose name was Brook Watson: a man of malicious and cruel disposition, ..." [A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity. Written by Himself 3rd. ed., (Bulington, Vt., 1838), 44.]. From 1784-1793 Watson served in the House of Commons. He was a director of the Bank of England, Lord Mayor of London 1796-1797, and chairman of the Corporation of Lloyds of London. In 1803 he was created a baronet, and died in 1807.
Betham, William. The Baronetage of England; or the History of the English Baronets. London, 1805: 540-542.
The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle LXXVII (1807):987-988 [obituary]
Webster, J. Clarence. Sir Brook Watson, Friend of the Loyalists. Sackville, New Brunswick: 1924.
Namier, Sir Lewis, and John Brooke. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons, 1754-1790. 3 vols. New York, 1964: 3:611-612.
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