DODINGTON (DORRINGTON), Sir William I (1572-1638), of Breamore, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 1 July 1572,1 o.s. of William Dodington†, auditor of imprests 1570-95, of Aldersgate, London and Breamore and Christian, da. of William Walsingham of Scadbury, Chislehurst, Kent, wid. of John Tamworth† of Sutton, Lincs.2 educ. M. Temple 1591.3 m. (settlement 17 Feb. 1595)4 Mary (d.1629), da. and h. of Sir John Herbert*, sec. of state 1600-17, of Neath Abbey, Glam. and Mortlake, Surr., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da. (2 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1600;6 kntd. 23 July 1603.7 d. 23 Oct. 1638.8 sig. W[illiam] Dodington.

Offices Held

J.p. Hants 1602-34, 1636-d.;9 commr. sewers, Hants and Wilts. 1605, I.o.W. 1631;10 sheriff, Hants 1605-6;11 commr. survey, Hurst Castle, Hants 1608,12 disarming recusants, Hants 1613, 1625,13 survey, Christchurch bridge, Hants 1617,14 subsidy, Hants 1621-2, 1624;15 col. militia ft. Hants by 1626-d.;16 commr. martial law, Hants 1626-8,17 billeting 1626-8,18 oyer and terminer 1628, Western circ. 1629-37,19 swans, Hants, Wilts., Dorset, Som., Devon, Cornw. and I.o.W. 1629.20


Dodington’s father, an Exchequer official, sat in two Elizabethan parliaments, and bought Breamore in 1580.21 His suicide, occasioned by prolonged litigation with a Hampshire neighbour, produced in Dodington a lifelong melancholy and a distaste for public life.22 A ‘pure, precise gentleman’, Dodington actively supported Sir Henry Wallop*, whose puritan religious outlook he shared, for a county seat in 1614.23 At the next general election Dodington tried for a seat himself at Lymington, and, perhaps assisted by Wallop, the borough’s high steward, won a contest for the first seat against Sir John Mill, 1st bt*.24 He left no trace on the records of the 1621 Parliament, and did not stand again, preferring to use his influence at Lymington and Downton for his sons Sir William II* and Herbert*. The untimely death of the former in 1624 proved the first of a series of bereavements. In 1629 his wife was murdered by his third son Henry, who was subsequently hanged. Three years later Herbert died, by which time Dodington was convinced that his family lay under a curse.25

In the belief that he had incurred ‘God’s displeasure on his ancestors for holding so many impropriations’, Dodington restored these to the Church, ‘settling them as firmly as law could devise, to a greater yearly value than many will believe, or any imitate’.26 He also founded almshouses, and kept ‘a bountiful house’ for the poor, acts of piety which were acknowledged in the dedications of Arthur Warwick’s Spare Minutes, or Resolved Meditations (2nd edn. 1634), and Bartholomew Parsons’ Honos et Onus Levitarum (1637). Dodington died on 23 Oct. 1638, and was buried at Breamore. His will, dated 14 Sept., devoted over £100 to charity, including the provision of apprenticeships for poor children, with the proviso that they were not to be bound to masters with a reputation for hardness or cruelty. A clergyman received the tithe of various meadows for 20 years, after which it was to go to the curate of Fordingbridge, ‘so as he be a constant preaching minister’ whose doctrine was based on the Thirty-Nine Articles. Other legacies of over £6,500, besides the portion of his daughter Katherine, who had married Peregrine Hoby*, make it clear that he was a rich man.27 His heir was his fourth son John, who represented Lymington in the Short Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/261/28.
  • 2. C.A. Bradford, ‘William Dodington, a Tragedy of St. Sepulchre’s, Holborn, 1600’, London and Mdx. Arch. Soc. Trans. n.s. vii. 125.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. C142/378/132.
  • 5. Cardiff Recs. ed. J.H. Matthews, iii. 512; PROB 11/130, f. 346; PROB 11/179, f. 362v.
  • 6. C142/261/28.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 118.
  • 8. WARD 7/95/136.
  • 9. Whithed Letter Bk. (Hants Rec. ser. i), 22; C231/1, f. 129; 231/5, f. 151.
  • 10. C181/1, f. 103v; 181/4, f. 89.
  • 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 56.
  • 12. SP/14/37/109.
  • 13. Whithed Letter Bk. 98; Add. 21922, f. 38.
  • 14. Hants RO, 4M53/140, f. 206v.
  • 15. C212/22/20, 21, 23.
  • 16. Add. 21922, ff. 62, 81v, 110, 151v, 159.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 419; 1627-8, p. 440; C181/3, f. 241.
  • 18. APC 1626, pp. 221, 224; 1627-8, p. 318.
  • 19. C181/3, ff. 241, 259v; 181/4, ff. 11v, 185; 181/5, ff. 5v, 61v.
  • 20. C181/4, f. 2v.
  • 21. Add. 5524, f. 36v.
  • 22. Bradford, 124-7.
  • 23. Whithed Letter Bk. 113, 115; Cartae Glamorgancia ed. G.L. Clark, vi. 2221.
  • 24. Hants RO, 27M74A/DBC1, p. 123.
  • 25. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 46, 70; Royalist’s Notebk. ed. F. Bamford, 96-97.
  • 26. T. Fuller, Worthies ed. P. Austin Nuttall, ii. 22-3; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xl. 306; Bradford, 129-30.
  • 27. PROB 11/179, f. 362v.