Rawson, John (c.1470–a.1547), Viscount Clontarff , prior of Kilmainham, treasurer of Ireland, was eldest son of Richard Rawson, member of the Mercer's Company, sheriff and alderman of London, and Isabella Craford. He joined the Hospitallers sometime between 1492 and 1497. In 1510 he was sent by the order to Rome and was entertained by the doge in Venice on his journey. In 1511 he was appointed prior of Kilmainham (head of the Hospitaller order in Ireland), and was placed on the council in Ireland by royal order. Rawson was among the men summoned to England in 1515 to discuss the state of Ireland, and in 1517 he was appointed treasurer of Ireland. In the following year he was summoned to defend Rhodes against the Turks, but although he received a licence of absence, he did not go further than England. Instead he was sent back to Ireland in Surrey's (qv) expedition. However he travelled to Rhodes in 1522 and was present at the fall of Rhodes on 20 December 1522. He returned to Ireland, where he was superseded as treasurer by the future earl of Ossory, Piers Butler (qv). In 1525 Rawson received licence to travel for three years and was made turcopolier (master of the light infantry) of the Hospitallers and head of the English langue of the order in July 1527. He was recalled by the king in 1528, reinstated as prior of Kilmainham and reappointed treasurer of Ireland in September 1528, although the post of treasurer was becoming less important as the duties were taken over by the under-treasurer. In August 1529 Rawson, as treasurer, with the chancellor, Archbishop John Alen (qv), and the chief justice, Patrick Bermingham (qv), were appointed to govern Ireland as a secret council. However, they lacked the money needed to govern effectively, and the experiment was superseded by the appointment of William Skeffington (qv) as lord deputy (August 1530). In April 1532 Rawson was among those summoned to England to testify to the conduct of Skeffington and the earls of Kildare (qv) and Ossory; he exonerated Kildare and levelled charges of misgovernment against Skeffington. Rawson remained loyal to the king during the revolt of the Geraldines, and his lands were plundered by the supporters of Silken Thomas (qv). He served as a conduit of information about Ireland to the king and Cromwell during the 1530s, and in 1538 William Brabazon (qv) recommended him for the office of chancellor; but Rawson was already being described as ‘old and impotent’ and Cromwell refused to appoint him. As prior of Kilmainham he oversaw the suppression of the priory and in September 1541 the deputy, Anthony St Leger (qv), recommended that he be created Viscount Clontarff for the remainder of his life, which recommendation was formally implemented on 26 September 1541. His date of death and place of burial are unknown but he probably died before 1547, when he was replaced as titular prior of Kilmainham by the catholic church.
L & P Hen. VIII; CSPI, 1509–73; S. Ellis, Tudor Ireland (1985)