Roger Dodsworth 1585-1654

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Roger DODSWORTH 1585-1654

Biographical Note

Born at Newton Grange, Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire, son of Matthew Dodsworth, registrar of York Minster. He did not attend university; early in the 17th century he developed an interest in compiling antiquarian collections, initially in Yorkshire, travelling around churches to transcribe registers and memorial inscriptions. In 1623 he visited the Tower of London to copy records held there. Through friendship with Charles Fairfax, uncle of Sir Thomas Fairfax (later 3rd Baron Fairfax), he gained the patronage of the Fairfax family, and Sir Thomas gave him a pension of £50 p.a. By 1638, when he compiled a manuscript headed 'Monasticon Anglicanum', he had formulated the intention of publishing a history of monasteries, based on surviving records, and had enlisted help from a number of other contemporary antiquaries, including William Dugdale, Sir Henry Spelman and Sir Simonds d'Ewes. Dugdale became his main collaborator and by the early 1650s a great deal of material had been collected, which Dugdale (principally) edited for publication, with both men advancing money to pay the substantial printing costs. Dodsworth died before the first volume of the Monasticum Anglicanum appeared in 1655; Dugdale continued to work on it and the second and third volumes appeared in 1661 and 1673. There has been argument over the relative amounts of credit due to the two men for what is now regarded as a milestone of English historical writing; the work is commonly attributed to Dugdale with Dodsworth's role neglected. Both men played an essential part, with much of the compilation of source material down to Dodsworth, but Dugdale brought it to fruition and continued the gathering of records after Dodsworth's death.


In his will, Dodsworth acknowledged the support of Lord Fairfax and bequeathed to him all his manuscripts, couchers, rolls and papers, which were divided between Fairfax's London house (York House) and Dodsworth's Lancashire home. He expressed the wish that the Monasticon would be dedicated to Fairfax, and that Dugdale and John Rushworth would see it to printed completion. Bequests to members of his family included copies of the book when published, money from the £108 he had advanced towards the printing costs, and proceeds which he hoped would come from it. The manuscript collections were subsequently bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Lord Fairfax, and received there in 1672; the extent and fate of Dodsworth's printed book collections is not known.


  • Denhol-Young, N. & H. Craster, Roger Dodsworth (1585-1654) and his circle, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 32 (1936), 5-32.
  • Macray, W. D. Annals of the Bodleian Library. 2nd edn, Oxford, 1890, 137-9.
  • Parry, Graham. "Dodsworth, Roger (bap. 1585, d. 1654), antiquary." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.