Dodsworth, Roger

, an eminent antiquary, the son of Matthew Dodsworth, registrar of York cathedral, and chancellor to archbishop Matthews, was born July 24, 1585, at Newton Grange, in the parish of St. Oswald, in Rydale, Yorkshire. He died in August 1654; and was buried at Rufrord, Lancashire. He was a man “of wonderful industry, but less judgment; always collecting and transcribing, but never published any thing.” Such is | the report of him by Wood; who in the first part of it, Mr. Gough observes, drew his own character. “One cannot approach the borders of this county,” adds this topographer, in his account of Yorkshire, “without paying tribute to the memory of that indefatigable collector of its antiquities, Roger Dodsworth, who undertook and executed a work, which, to the antiquaries of the present age, would have been the stone of Tydides.” One hundred and twenty-two volumes of his own writing, besides original Mss. which he had obtained from several hands, making all together 162 volumes folio, now lodged in the Bodleian library, are lasting memorials what this county owes to him, as the two volumes of the Monasticon (which, though published under his and Dugdale’s names conjointly, were both collected and written totally by him) will immortalize that extensive industry which has laid the whole kingdom under obligation. The patronage of general Fairfax (whose regard to our antiquities, which the rage of his party was so bitter against, should cover his faults from the eyes of antiquaries) preserved this treasure, and bequeathed it to the library where it is now lodged. Fairfax preserved also the fine windows of York cathedral; and when St. Mary’s tower, in which were lodged innumerable records, both public and private, relating to the northern parts, was blown up during the siege of York, he gave money to the soldiers who could save any scattered papers, many of which are now at Oxford; though Dodsworth had transcribed and abridged the greatest part before. Thomas Tomson, at the hazard of his life, saved out of the rubbish such as were legible; which, after passing through several hands, became the property of Dr. John Burton, of York, being 1868, in thirty bundles. Wallis says they are in the cathedral library. Fairfax allowed Dodsworth a yearly salary to preserve the inscriptions in churches.

Fairfax died in 1671 his nephew, Henry Fairfax, dean of Norwich, gave Roger Dodsworth’s 162 volumes of collections to the university of Oxford but the Mss. were not brought thither till 1673, and then in wet weather, when Wood with much difficulty obtained leave of the vice-chancellor to have them brought into the munimentroom in the school-tower, and was a month drying them on the leads. Many transcripts from them are in various collections, particularly the British museum, where are | also many of Dodsworth’s letters. Hearne, in a transport of antiquarian enthusiasm, “blesses God that he was pleased, out of his infinite goodness and mercy, to raise up so pious and diligent a person, that should, by his blessing, so effectually discover and preserve such a noble treasure of antiquities as is contained in these volumes: most of them written with his own hand, and the genealogical tables, and the notes on them, done with that exquisite care and judgment, that I cannot but think otherwise of this eminent person than the author of the ‘ Athenae Oxonienses.’ For it plainly appears to me, that his judgment and sagacity were equal to his diligence; and I see no reason to doubt, but that if he had lived to write the Antiquities of Yorkshire (as he once designed), it would have appeared in a very pleasing and entertaining method, and in a proper and elegant style, and set out with all other becoming advantages.1


Gough’s Topography, vol. 1. Archaeologia, vol. I.