John Clayton was educated at Manchester Grammar School and gained the school exhibition to Brasenose in 1725.
In 1729 the Hulmean scholarship was awarded to him, and a little later he became a college tutor. He proceeded to BA on 16 April 1729 and MA on 8 June 1732.
He became a distinguished Anglican clergyman, although he fell from favour over his support for the ’45 Jacobite Rebellion. Clayton is buried in Manchester Cathedral.