Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Henry Dodwell (1540–1600)

Mayor of Oxford 1592/3

Henry Dodwell was the son of James Dodwell, an Oxford woollen draper who himself had risen to the position of Bailiff on the Council but had been dismissed in 1562 for supporting John Cumber against the council. Henry had three brothers (William, James, and Philip) and two sisters (Margery, later Mrs Potter, and Frideswide, who married Richard Goode, Mayor of Oxford 1601/2 and 1606/7).

Dodwell was a woollen-draper like his father, and was admitted as a Hanaster in the mayoral year 1566–7. He took on at least four apprentice woollen drapers: his younger brother William Dodwell (25 March 1569); Thomas Harris of Sibford (around June 1574); John Norwood of Rousham (24 June 1576; reassigned to Ralph Clarke on 23 March 1582); and John Greene of Warwickshire (24 June 1582).

Dodwell’s father died in St Mary-the-Virgin parish on 17 March 1568, but was buried at St Martin’s Church. On 28 September 1572 Dodwell is recorded as paying nine shillings towards the seasement in St Martin’s parish.

Dodwell had three children

  • Rebecca Dodwell (baptised on 9 September 1571 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Anne Dodwell (baptised on 17 December 1573 at St Martin’s Church)
  • James Dodwell (batpised on 1 January 1575 at St Martin’s Church, buried there on 5 April 1576.

Dodwell was elected on to the Common Council on 29 September 1572. On 19 September 1580, he and two others on the Common Council were asked to leave the Council House during the election of the Mayor, and they all

verie stobernelie gaynsayd so to do, and refused to depart owt of the howsse…, whereuppon they were commytted to the prison of Bocardo wthin the said Citie, thear to remayne until they dyd submytt themselves for the said contempt, and paye such fyne as by the said Mayor, Aldermen, and Justices should be sett uppon them. The same night the said parties submytted themselves and prayed to be released of their imprisonment, promysinge payment of such fyne as for their said offence shold by the said Mayor, Recorder, and Aldemen be sett uppon them. The fyne agreed uppon was that everie of the said parties first namyd shold paye xiiis iiijd, wch said fyne the said Henrie Dodwell for his part payd.

Dodwell’s four apprentices are recorded as being admitted as Hanasters: William Dodwell in the mayoral year 1576–7, Thomas Harris in 1581/2, John Norwood in 1582/3, and John Greene in November 1589.

His elder daughter Rebecca Dodwell married his former apprentice Thomas Harris.

His younger daughter Anne Dodwell married Thomas Pawlin.

On 20 June 1582 Dodwell was granted a lease by the council of four tenements and three gardens on the west side of Smithgate, together with a garden on the north side of the town wall adjoinging the said tenements.

In September 1583 Dodwell was appointed a scrutator of cloth, and in September 1583 a bailiff.

On 19 January 1584/5 Dodwell appears in a list of privileged persons of the University, having matriculated from Lincoln College. He is described as being aged 44, and the words “receptor redituum” replace the original writing “mercator”.

In 1585 Dodwell and others were granted a least of the waters from the wood arch of East bridge to the north end of Stub Lake for the rest of their lives for 16d. yearly rent.

September 1588 Dodwell was elected one of the Associates on the Mayor’s inner council.

On 18 September 1592 Henry Dodwell was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1592/3). After his year of office he returned to sit on the Mayor’s council, and is henceforth described as “gent.”

On 8 April 1597 Dodwell was sworn to execute his office of Justice of the Peace, and took the Oath of Supremacy.

On 25 August 1597 in return for a payment of £100 a lease was granted to Henry Dodwell (described as “gent”) and the whitebaker Isaac Bartholomew of:

all those houses or tenements, shops, booths and void ground, heretofore demised to one John Webbe by William Frere Esq., together with the fair called the Augustine Fair within the said site yearly to be holden with all rights, profits and fines whatsoever to the said fair belong….

On 11 April 1599 Dodwell was chosen Alderman.

† Alderman Henry Dodwell died in the autumn of 1600. He asked to be buried in St Mary-the-Virgin Church, and was duly buried there on 3 October, although Wood’s gloss on his burial entry, “Henry Dodwell, aldermannus civitatis Oxon, e parochia S. Martini” shows that he was still living in St Martin’s parish.

In his will, Dodwell left to his wife Joan “the use of my house and shop wherein I now dwell in the parishe of St Martyn”: she lived another six years and was buried at St Martin’s on 5 October 1606, described in the burial register as “Aldrewoman”. He left further bequests to his elder daughter Rebecca (and her husband Thomas Harris and their daughter Grace) and to his younger daughter Anne (and her husband Thomas Pawlin). He also made bequests to his brothers Philip, James, and William, and to William’s children Henry, James, John, and Jane. One of his executors, whom he describes as his “verie good friend” was Alderman William Levins, five times Mayor of Oxford between 1572 and 1601.

Henry Dodwell's brothers

All four Dodwell brothers served on the council in the late sixteenth century. The council careers of Henry’s three younger brothers were as follows:

  • James Dodwell came on to the council in 1584. He was appointed a Chamberlain in 1592, a position he held until 1620.
  • William Dodwell, who had served as Henry’s apprentice. He came on to the council in 1591 and was made Chamberlain in 1596 but never rose higher. He fell on hard times, and in May 1622 was driven by poverty to request a place as an almsman of St Bartholomew’s, on condition that he utterly forsook his place on the council and never took any place in the company of tailors. He failed to be elected to a place as almsman in April 1624 and remained a Chamberlain on the council until 1630
  • Philip Dodwell, who was a dyer, and the youngest brother. He was admitted free in September 1596 and first came on to the council in September 1598. In September 1602 Richard Goode (who had recently taken as a second wife Henry Dodwell’s sister Frideswide) requested that Philip should have a Chamberlain’s place. He became a Bailiff in August 1607, and remained a Bailiff on the Council until 1633. He was buried at the St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 2 June 1634

See also:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/96/318 (Will of Henry Dodwell, Alderman of Oxford, proved 18 November 1600)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 2 November, 2018

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