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John Potter Edit Profile


John Potter was Archbishop of Canterbury.


John Potter was the son of a linen-draper at Wakefield, Yorkshire, and was born about 1674.


At the age of fourteen he entered University College, Oxford.


In 1693 he published notes on Plutarch's De audiendis poetis and Basil's Oratio ad juvenes. In 1694 he was elected fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1697 his edition of Lycophron appeared. It was followed by his Archaeologia graeca (2 vols. 8vo, 1697–1698), the popularity of which endured till the advent of Dr William Smith's dictionaries. A reprint of his Lycophron in 1702 was dedicated to Graevius, and the Antiquities was afterwards published in Latin in the Thesaurus of Gronovius.

Besides holding several livings he became, in 1704, chaplain to Archbishop Tenison, and shortly afterwards was made chaplain-in-ordinary to Queen Anne. From 1708 he was Regius Professor of Divinity and canon of Christ Church, Oxford; and from 1715 he was Bishop of Oxford. In the latter year appeared his edition of Clement of Alexandria. In 1707 he published a Discourse on Church Government, and he took a prominent part in the controversy with Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop of Bangor.

In January 1737 Potter was unexpectedly appointed to succeed William Wake in the see of Canterbury.

Alexander Pope attacked him in the 1743 version of his The Dunciad.


  • He is the author of A System of Practical Mathematics, a comprehensive reference work which amongst other topics, addressed aspects of astronomy, and the recently adopted Gregorian calendrical system.


Even though Potter was a notable Whig, he was a High Churchman and had opposed Hoadly. While in that seat, he continued to represent a High Church position, but he was also ineffective at restoring the Convocation.


John Potter married Elizabeth Venner, a granddaughter of Thomas Venner, a Fifth Monarchy man hanged as a traitor.

Elizabeth Venner