Rev. John Watson, D. D.
An Appreciation by Professor Walter Howchin, F. G. S.

[Before emigrating to Australia circa 1880, the author was with the Primitive Methodist Church in Sunderland.]

Annie Watson wrote:-- « ... Professor Walter Howchin has had a distinguished career in connection with the Adelaide University and was for many years one of its best known professors ... Very many years ago he had, while he was in the ministry of the Primitive Methodist Church, a serious breakdown in health, and was told by his doctors that his only hope lay in seeking a warmer climate ... This he did with the happiest results, and by his scientific work at the University, and his many arduous expeditions, added greatly to the available knowledge in his own particular field of research. »

My acquaintance with the Rev. John Watson dates from about the time of his entering the Ministry, when he spent the whole period of his probation in his own circuit in Weardale. From the first he took a prominent place among the ministers of the Sunderland District. He was greatly esteemed for his kind, courteous, and equitable temperament, as well as for his scholastic attainments. On account of his extensive acquaintance with books and current literature he was a most interesting companion and gave a healthy intellectual stimulus to all that came under his influence. He was a foundation member of the Dialectic Club, formed among the ministers of the Sunderland District, which for many years, met in the city of Durham, quarterly, for mutual intercourse and discussion; Mr Watson, by contributing papers and taking part in the discussion, added greatly to the interest of the meetings of the Club.

The transference of Mr. Watson from the South African Mission Field to South Australia, gave me the great pleasure of a renewed personal acquaintance with him and his very estimable wife. They came to South Australia at a very critical period in the history of our church in this colony. There had been an unfortunate breach in the unity of the churches over a financial question which led to a severance of the S. Australian District into two, and in one place, at least, the feeling in the church was so divided that rival services were held by the respective sections within a few doors of each other. Such a state of things was so prejudicial to the Church's interests and foreign to Mr Watson's peaceable and conciliatory nature that he at once sought to bring the estranged parties together and wisely effected a reconciliation. Mr Watson only occupied two circuits during his stay in South Australia, Queenstown and Parkside, most of the time at the latter. His ministry was greatly appreciated. He was highly esteemed both as a friend and pastor, and it was with universal regret, that after six years of service in this southern land, the South Australian community had to resign themselves to what Mr Watson felt as a call to return to the Mother Country.

Adelaide, November 20, 1922