Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dodsworth, Roger

DODSWORTH, ROGER (1585–1654), antiquary, son of Matthew Dodsworth, registrar of York Cathedral, was born at Newton Grange, Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire, in the house of his maternal grandfather, Ralph Sandwith. The date, according to his own account, was 24 July 1585, but the parish register of Oswaldkirk states that he was baptised on 24 April. In 1599 Dodsworth was sent to Archbishop Hutton's school at Warton, Lancashire, under Miles Dawson, afterwards vicar of Bolton. In 1605 he witnessed the execution of Walter Calverley [q. v.] at York. At an early age Dodsworth became an antiquary. In 1605 he prepared a pedigree, which is still extant. His father's official connection with York Cathedral gave Dodsworth opportunities of examining its archives, and he seems to have made in his youth the acquaintance of the Fairfaxes of Denton, Yorkshire, who encouraged him to persevere in his antiquarian pursuits. In September 1611 he married Holcroft, widow of Lawrence Rawsthorne of Hutton Grange, near Preston, Lancashire, and daughter of Robert Hesketh of Rufford, by Mary, daughter of Sir George Stanley. Dodsworth took up his residence at his wife's house at Hutton Grange, and only left it on antiquarian expeditions. He visited nearly all the churches of Yorkshire; studied in London in the library of Sir Robert Cotton; paid a first visit to the Tower of London in 1623, and in 1646 examined the Clifford papers at Skipton Castle. About 1635 Thomas, first lord Fairfax of Cameron, settled on him a pension of 50l. a year, and in September 1644 he was staying with Francis Nevile at Chevet, Wakefield. Lord Fairfax's son Charles [q. v.] worked with him in his antiquarian researches. On 2 Oct. 1652 the council of state gave Dodsworth free access to the records in the Tower, ‘he having in hand something of concernment relating to the public’ (Cal. State Papers, 1652, p. 427). He died in August 1654, and was buried at Rufford, Lancashire. His wife died before him. He had by her four children, Robert, Eleanor, Mary, and Cassandra. Robert was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, and held a benefice at Barton, North Riding of Yorkshire.

Dodsworth published nothing in his lifetime, but he designed three works, an English baronage, a history of Yorkshire, and a Monasticon Anglicanum. He collected voluminous notes for all three, but he only put those for the last into shape. While staying with Francis Nevile in 1644 he wrote that he intended to restrict the work to the north of England, and to entitle it a ‘Monasticon Boreale.’ But in his will dated 30 June 1654 he says that his ‘Monasticon’ was then at press, and begs John Rushworth to direct its publication. He had borrowed money for this purpose of Lady Wentworth, and ordered his executors to pay to her the yearly pension of 50l. which Lord Fairfax had promised to continue for three years after his death. Dodsworth desired the published book to be dedicated to Lord Fairfax, and suggested that ‘my good friend Mr. Dugdale’ should be invited to frame ‘the said epistle and dedication.’ This is the sole reference which Dodsworth is known to have made to Dugdale. But Rushworth induced Dugdale to edit Dodsworth's papers, and when the first volume of the ‘Monasticon’ was published in 1655, his name is joined with Dodsworth's as one of the compilers. ‘A full third part of the collection is mine,’ wrote Dugdale, 10 Dec. 1654 (Nichols, Illustrations, iv. 62), but he hesitated to put his name on the title-page until Rushworth insisted on it. The second volume, which was issued in 1661, likewise had both Dodsworth's and Dugdale's names on the title-page, but the third and last volume bears the name of Dugdale alone, and the whole work is invariably quoted as Dugdale's. There can, however, be no doubt that Dodsworth deserves the honour of projecting the great book.

Dodsworth's manuscripts were bequeathed to Thomas, third lord Fairfax, the well-known parliamentary general. In September 1666 Dugdale borrowed eighteen of them, and in 1673 Fairfax deposited 160 volumes in the Bodleian Library. It has been stated that Henry Fairfax, dean of Norwich, son of Dodsworth's fellow-worker Charles Fairfax, was chiefly instrumental in procuring this presentation to Oxford (Atterbury Correspondence). The manuscripts were wet when they arrived, and Anthony à Wood, out of ‘respect to the memory of Mr. Dodsworth,’ spent a month in drying them (Wood, Autobiog. ed. Bliss, lxxv). They include transcripts of documents and pedigrees, chiefly relating to Yorkshire churches and families. Extracts from them appear in the Brit. Mus. Harl. MSS. 793–804. Under the general title of ‘Dodsworth's Yorkshire Notes’ Dodsworth's notes for the wapentake of Agbrigg were published by the Yorkshire Archæological Society in 1884. Copies of Lancashire post-mortem inquisitions (in Dodsworth's collections) were made by Christopher Towneley, and these have been printed by the Chetham Society (2 vols. 1875–6). Besides the volumes in the Bodleian, Thoresby possessed a quarto volume of Dodsworth's manuscript notes (Ducat. Leod. p. 533). A second volume is in Queen's College Library, Oxford; a third belonged to George Baker, the Northamptonshire historian, and several others were in the possession of the last Earl of Cardigan. Drake, the York historian, gave the Bodleian an additional volume in 1736. Thoroton used Dodsworth's manuscripts in his ‘History of Nottinghamshire,’ and Dr. Nathaniel Johnston examined them with a view to writing a history of Yorkshire. Wood describes Dodsworth as ‘a person of wonderful industry, but less judgment.’ Hearne speaks extravagantly of his judgment, sagacity, and diligence (Leland, Collectanea, 1774, vi. 78). Gough and Whittaker are equally enthusiastic.

[Rev. Joseph Hunter's Three Catalogues (including a catalogue of the Dodsworth MSS. and a Memoir), 1838; Gough's British Topography, ii. 395; Whittaker's Richmondshire, ii. 76; Dugdale's Correspondence and Diary; Markham's Life of the Great Lord Fairfax (1870); Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 24; information from the Rev. T. Ward, Gussage St. Michael, Cranborne, Dorsetshire. See art. Charles Fairfax, 1597–1673, infra.]

S. L. L.