Benjamin Woodroffe 1638-1711
Benjamin WOODROFFE 1638-1711
Born in Oxford, son of Timothy Woodroffe, vicar of Kingsland, Hertfordshire. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1659, MA 1662, BD and DD 1673, tutor at Christ Church 1662, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford there 1672, Subdean of Christ Church, Oxford 1674. Studied chemistry at Oxford; Fellow of the Royal Society 1668. Chaplain to James, Duke of York 1669, to Charles II 1674. Vicar of Piddle Hinton, Dorset 1673-4, of of Shrivenham, Berkshire 1675, of St Bartholomew by the Exchange, London 1676; canon of Lichfield 1678, president of Sion College 1684-7. Principal of Gloucester Hall, Oxford 1692, where he began a programme to improve the fortunes of what was then a poor institution. He succeeded in having it transformed into a college of the University, as Worcester College, although this involved extensive wrangling with other Oxford colleges and the trustees of Sir Thomas Cookes (d.1701), of Worcestershire, who bequeathed £10,000 for the endowment of a college (Gloucester Hall eventually became Worcester College in 1714). His expenditure on Gloucester Hall and on unsuccessful business ventures (including a rock salt mine in Cheshire) left him in debt at the end of his life and he was briefly imprisoned for debt in 1709.
In his will, Woodroffe bequeathed his “library or study of books” to his son Benjamin, "excepting only such books [which belonged to] Katharine Marbury now deceas'd and by her bequeathed to her sister Mary my dear wife". Although the son (1683/4-[1770) became vicar of Frodisham, Cheshire in the year of his father's death, and went on to have a clerical career, at least some of Woodroffe's books were dispersed at a retail sale in London, beginning 9 July 1718, perhaps a reflection of ongoing financial difficulties. Woodroffe's books were sold together with those of two lawyers and the catalogue does not allow any distinction as to which books came from which source; there were 1373 lots in all, divided into English, folio (292), Latin and other languages, folio (100), English, quarto (105), Latin and other languages, quarto (88), English, octavo (603), Latin and other languages, octavo (152), 18 volumes of quarto tracts and 15 "books of maps and prints". The catalogue claims to comprise "part of the library" of Woodroffe and there is no indication as to what proportion of the original whole it contained.
None of Woodroffe's books have been identified.
- Alston, R. C., Inventory of sale catalogues ... 1676-1800, St Philip, 2010.
- A catalogue of part of the library of ... Dr. Woodroffe, 1718 (ESTC t30163).
- Vallance, Edward. "Woodroffe, Benjamin (1638–1711), college head." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.