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In 1796, Watson preached his first sermon, andemoved to Newark-on-Trent as assistant to Thomas Cooper, as a Wesleyan preacher. In 1796, he entered the Methodist itinerancy, and was received into full connection as a travelling minister in 1801. Meanwhile, he was stationed at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Castle Donington, and Derby.
In 1801, Watson married Mary Henslow of Castle Donington, daughter of a Methodist New Connexion preacher there. They had two children. In 1803, he withdrew from the Wesleyans, and joined the New Connexion, resenting an unfounded charge of Arianism. In 1805, he became assistant secretary of the New Connexion's conference, and in 1807 he was fully admitted to its ministry and was appointed secretary. He was first stationed at Stockport, then from 1806 at Liverpool, where he engaged in literary work for Thomas Kaye.
In 1807, Watson resigned his ministry. In 1808 he was engaged as editor of the Liverpool Courier by Kaye. In 1812 he then returned to the Wesleyan Connexion, and was reinstated in his former position. In 1812, he was stationed at Wakefield, and at Hull from 1814 to 1816.
In 1813, Watson drew up a plan of a general missionary society, which was accepted by the conference. In 1810 he was removed to London, and made one of the two general secretaries to the Wesleyan Missionary Society from 1821 to 1827. After holding an appointment at Manchester, from 1827 to 29, he returned to London. He was again appointed a resident secretary to the missionary society from 1832 to 1833.
Watson died in London on 8 January 1833. He was buried in the graveyard behind City Road Chapel, London.
Watson was a strong Methodist, but constantly wrote of the Anglican communion as "the mother of us all". He was deeply attached to the Anglican prayer-book, and was anxious to keep Methodism in friendly relations with the establishment.
Hagenbach, K. R. (1881). A history of Christian doctrines. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Stevenson, George John (1886). Methodist worthies. Characteristic Sketches of Methodist Preachers of the Several Denominations, with Historical Sketch of each Connexion. London: Thomas C Jack, 45 Ludgate Hill.