John Dodderidge 1555-1628

From Book Owners Online

Sir John DODDERIDGE 1555-1628

Biographical Note

Son of Robert Dodderidge of South Molton, Devon, merchant and shipowner. BA Exeter College, Oxford 1577; admitted at the Middle Temple 1577 (barrister 1585, bencher 1603). MP for Barnstaple 1589, and for Horsham 1604; Serjeant at law 1605, king's serjeant 1607 (when he was knighted); judge of the Court of King's Bench 1612. He was widely respected for his legal knowledge and judgment, and published a number of legal manuals.


Dodderidge's commonplace book (British Library MS Hargrave 407-8) reflects the wide range of his reading. He belonged to, and possibly helped found, the Society of Antiquaries which briefly flourished around the turn of the 17th century. He left most of his books to his nephew, also named John, and it is commonly held that the younger Dodderidge gave 112 volumes from their libraries to Barnstaple as the foundation of a town library, which was built 1665-7. Recent research, however, suggests that books were purchased specifically for the new library, while the nephew bequeathed his own library to his wife, Judith. At least two of Sir John Dodderidge's books were, however, incorporated into the Crediton parish library, having been bequeathed to his nephew John Downe, via Crediton library founder Rev. Thomas Ley, who was originally from near Barnstaple. These are now in the Exeter University Library: Crediton Library 1610/AND and Crediton Library 1495/BOO.


  • Cresswell, B. “The collegiate church of Holy Cross Crediton with the parochial chapel of St. Swithin's Sandford.” Notes on Devon Churches, unpublished typescript, 1918, 82.
  • Dodderidge, S. The Dodderidges of Devon: with an account of the Bibliotheca Doddridgiana, 1909.
  • Gilbert, A. "Public Books in Provincial Towns", Ph.D thesis, University of Exeter, 2022.
  • Ibbetson, David. "Dodderidge [Doddridge], Sir John (1555–1628), judge." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England. London, 2004, 130.
  • Poole, W. "An Unnoticed Seventeenth-century Commonplace Book: Exeter University Library MS 40", Notes and Queries, Volume 63, Issue 4, December 2016, 550–556.
  • Information from Anna-Lujz Gilbert.