From Eton he passed to Queens' College, Cambridge[?], and was elected a scholar of King's in April 1632, and a fellow in 1634. On taking orders in 1639 he was collated to the Salisbury prebend of Nether-Avon. In 1640 he was appointed chaplain to the lord-keeper Finch, by whom he was presented to the living of Thorington in Suffolk. In the Civil War he acted as chaplain to George Goring[?]'s forces in the west. In 1654 he was made weekly preacher at St Clement's, Eastcheap[?], in London.
With Peter Gunning he disputed against two Roman Catholics on the subject of schism, a one-sided account of which was printed in Paris by one of the Roman Catholic disputants, under the title Scisme Unmask't (1658). Pearson also argued against the Puritan party, and was much interested in Brian Walton's polyglot Bible. In 1659 he published in London his celebrated Exposition of the Creed, dedicated to his parishioners of St Clement's, Eastcheap, to whom the substance of the work had been preached several years before. In the same year he published the Golden Remains of the ever-memorable Mr John Hales[?] of Eton, with an interesting memoir.
Soon after the Restoration he was presented by Juxon, bishop of London, to the rectory of St Christopher-le-Stocks; and in 1660 he was created doctor of divinity at Cambridge, appointed a royal chaplain, prebendary of Ely, archdeacon of Surrey, and master of Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1661 he was appointed Lady Margaret professor of divinity; and on the first day of the ensuing year he was nominated one of the commissioners for the review of the liturgy in the conference held at the Savoy. There he won the esteem of his opponents and high praise from Richard Baxter. On April 14, 1662 he was made master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1667 he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society.
In 1672 he published at Cambridge Vindiciae epistolarum S. Ignatii, in 4to, in answer to Jean Daillé[?]. His defence of the authenticity of the letters of Ignatius has been confirmed by JB Lightfoot and other recent scholars. Upon the death of John Wilkins in 1672, Pearson was appointed to the bishopric of Chester. In 1682 his Annales cyprianici were published at Oxford, with John Fell's edition of that father's works. He died at Chester on the 16th of July 1686. His last work, the Two Dissertations on the Succession and Times of the First Bishops of Rome, formed with the Annales Paulini the principal part of his Opera posthuma, edited by Henry Dodwell in 1688.
See the memoir in Biographia Britannica, and another by Edward Churton, prefixed to the edition of Pearson's Minor Theological Works (2 vols., Oxford, 1844). Churton also edited almost the whole of the theological writings.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.