RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 6
Extent1 volume
TitleSir John Dodderidge's 'History of Wales, Cornwall and Chester'
DescriptionThe volume is entitled 'A discourse or relation both of the Ancient and Moderne Estate of the Principalitie of Wales, Duchie of Cornewall and Earldome of Chester, penned and collected by Mr Serjant Doddridge oute of Recordes of the Tower of London and by him presented to the Kings Majestie at Hampton Courte in January anno Domini 1603'. The first published edition of this work appeared in 1630. Considering the early date, and Dodderidge's signature, this would appear to be a fair copy made by him in his own hand for presentation to the King. The volume is in its original vellum binding.
Admin HistorySir John Dodderidge [Doddridge] (1555-1628), judge, was the eldest of eight children of Richard Dodderidge, a merchant of South Molton in Devon, and his wife, Joan Badcock (née Horder). Although seemingly not born to wealth, his father took advantage of the economic growth of north Devon in the second half of the sixteenth century and became a prosperous shipowner, trader, and privateer. He established himself in Barnstaple, where he was alderman in 1583 and mayor in 1589. His wife having died in 1604, he survived until 1619. Tradition has it that John Dodderidge attended the grammar school at Barnstaple; he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1572, graduating BA in 1577. After a period at New Inn he was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1577 and called to the bar in 1585. In 1593 and 1602 he was appointed reader at New Inn, where he lectured on the law of advowsons. One year later, in 1603, he delivered his first reading at the Middle Temple and was created bencher. In 1604 he was created serjeant-at-law, having been proposed one year earlier. Only nine months afterwards, however, he was discharged from his serjeanty in order to take up the office of solicitor-general. He occupied this office for three years, resigning in 1607 to allow the promotion of Francis Bacon, whereupon Dodderidge resumed the coif and was immediately appointed king's serjeant and, later the same year, knighted. In 1612 he was appointed judge of the court of king's bench, retaining his place on the bench until his death in 1628.

Dodderidge retained his connections with Devon. He represented Barnstaple in the parliament of 1589, acted as counsel for the borough in 1611, and in his later life took an active interest in local administration in Barnstaple and South Molton. Perhaps because of his Devon antecedents he took an interest in the early settling of the American colonies, serving as a member of the king's council for Virginia in 1606. His family continued to live in the vicinity of Barnstaple, and all three of his wives were from Devon. First of these was Joan, daughter of Michael Jermyn, who was mayor of Exeter in 1591. On her death Dodderidge married, probably in 1604, Dorothy Hancock (née Bampfield) (1582-1614), the widow of Edward Hancock, the member of parliament for Barnstaple who had died by suicide in 1603 after the fall of Walter Raleigh. Three years after her death Dodderidge married Anne (d. 1630), daughter of Nicholas Culme of Canon's Leigh in Devon and widow of Giles Newman of London. Although he is said to have preferred to live near London, and in his later years had a substantial mansion near Egham in Surrey, Dodderidge's main properties were in Devon. He kept up his family home at Bremridge, South Molton, causing it to be rebuilt in 1622, and through his second wife came into possession of Mount Radford, near Exeter. His second wife was buried in Exeter Cathedral and in his will (written one month before his death) he expressed the wish that he too should be buried there.

Dodderidge played a full part in public affairs. He was one of the more active members in the parliament of 1604-11, where he represented Horsham. He spoke with great learning and sense in the debate on the lawfulness of royal impositions, though his lack of rhetorical flourish meant that his speech was less effective than it might otherwise have been. In the debate on the naturalization of the Scots, where the House of Commons was in danger of clashing both with the king and with the judges, he spoke with considerable wisdom in favour of a workable compromise consistent with common-law principles. He was a faithful servant of the crown, more royalist in his leanings than were many contemporary common lawyers, though his primary concern was with legal propriety. In Peacham's case, when the judges were asked to give their opinions in secret to the king, Dodderidge was said to be perfectly willing to oblige: as a judge he had taken an oath to give counsel to the king, and there was therefore no constitutional impediment to his obeying the royal demand. On the other hand, when directed by royal warrant not to enforce the statutes against recusancy in 1623, he is reported to have said that some lawful means should be discovered whereby the statutes could be dispensed with: the strong inference is that he did not believe that an instruction from the king was sufficient.

Dodderidge's scholarship reached far beyond that of most contemporary lawyers. He was a member of the fledgeling Society of Antiquaries-tradition has him as one of its founders-and he is known to have given papers to it on a variety of subjects, including one on the antiquity of parliament, published by his nephew in 1658. The History of Wales, Cornwall and Chester was published in 1630, but he also wrote substantially on law and a work on the degrees of nobility published in 1642 as The Magazine of Honour. As well as being renowned for his learning, Dodderidge had a reputation for integrity, for loyalty, and for ample hospitality. He died at his home at Forsters, Egham, Surrey on 13 September 1628 and his remains were transported to Exeter and interred in the cathedral there on 14 October near a high-quality alabaster effigy of him in his judicial robes. His nephew John Dodderidge (bap. 1610, d. 1658) practised as a barrister, represented Barnstaple in the Long Parliament, founded a free library in Barnstaple, and left money in his will to Harvard University.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialNo related papers are known.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
Finding_AidsListed. See Description above.
Creator_NameDodderidge; Sir; John (1555-1628); judge and antiquary
Mgt_GroupHistorical papers
DS/UK/15Dodderidge; John (1555-1628); judge and antiquary1555-1628
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