A lawyer who becomes a judge. An MP. There is some useful documentation on Sir James Watson.
His early career, however, is as minister to a dissenting congregation in Gosport.
He enters the Cort story by marrying John Attwick's granddaughter Joanna Burges. Cort's wife is also a granddaughter, thus Joanna's first cousin.
This relationship becomes useful to Cort, though some of the use is conjecture.
Conjecture: he helps to get Cort' patents awarded.
Fact: Cort consults him when he suspects his inventions are being pirated.
In May 1787, Crawshay being at Fontley, Mr. Cort wrote Mr. Sergt Watson that Mr. C-y said he was entitled to the making Iron – see his letter to the Sergeant 28th May 1787 – but that Mr. C-y doubted him being entitled to the Rolls – but Mr. C-y’s son William was by at the time & said he believed it was his right & added this remark that there never was any Mill whatever charged with Blooms to roll the same into Bars before Mr. Cort’s process – that Wilkinson Raby & Horshell might have used grooved rollers for rolling bar iron of one form into bar iron of another form.
From Weale collection
Conjecture: he helps, after Cort's business collapse, to find Cort accommodation in London, and supports financially.
Conjecture: he is instrumental in getting his contacts to sign the 1791 petition on behalf of Cort.
Fact: his signature is on the petition.
By this time he has become MP for Bridport, he has friends in the City and interests in the British East India Company (which may account for his familiarity with Dundas). His father-in-law, Thomas Burges, is a member of the company in Calcutta.
He has to give up his parliamentary seat in 1795, when he is appointed to the Bench in India.
But he gets a knighthood in compensation.
Before he leaves, he tries to persuade the Bridport electors to accept his brother-in-law Thomas Burges (junior) in his place.
The election takes place after he has left, but he is unsuccessful.
He is accompanied on the voyage by Henry Cort's second son, Coningsby, who hopes to gain advancement from the family connection. He is soon disappointed, as a brief biography of Watson shows.
About three weeks after his arrival, not liking the house he inhabited, [he] purchased a very excellent one at Chouringee, the removing into which terminated his mortal career. Like many other opinionated new comers he affected to hold in contempt the prevalent and justly formed notion that the sun was peculiarly injurious in Bengal, avowing that he had no doubt but any man might go out in it, without more detriment than in other hot countries, and this he put into practice, exposing himself to its burning rays several hours superintending the loading of the hackerys that were transporting his furniture from one house to the other... On the second day, he said he felt rather uncomfortable, with a great degree of giddiness. He lay down upon a sofa, and before sufficient time elapsed to summon medical assistance, he breathed his last [2 May 1796].
From R.G. Thorne, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820
Since he has been knighted, his widow takes the title Dame Joanna Watson.
Dame.. the legal title of the wife of a knight or baronet
From Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1975 edition