Rev. William Dodd

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:191-92.

This unfortunate author was the eldest son of the Rev. William Dodd, many years vicar of Bourne, in Lincolnshire, and was born May 29, 1729. He was sent, at the age of sixteen, to the university of Cambridge, and admitted in the year 1745 a sizar of Clare Hall. In 1749-50 he took the degree of B.A. with great honour, being upon that occasion in the list of wranglers. Leaving the university, he imprudently married a Miss Mary Perkins in 1751, was ordained a deacon the same year, priest in 1753, and soon became a celebrated and popular preacher. His first preferment was the lectureship of West Ham. In 1754 he was appointed lecturer of St. Olave's, Hart Street; and in 1757 took the degree of M.A. at Cambridge. On the foundation of the Magdalen Hospital, in 1758, he was a strenuous supporter of the charity, and soon after became preacher at the chapel of it. By means of his patron Bishop Squire, he in 1763 obtained the prebend of Brecon, and by the interest of some city friends procured himself to be appointed King's chaplain; soon after which he had the education of the present earl of Chesterfield committed to his care. In 1766 he went to Cambridge, and took the degree of LL.D. At this period the estimation he was held in by the world was sufficient to give him expectations of preferment, and hopes of riches and honours; and these he might probably have acquired, had he possessed a common portion of prudence and discretion. But, impatient of his situation, and desirous of advancement, he unluckily fell upon means which in the end were the occasion of his ruin. On the living of St. George, Hanover Square, becoming vacant, he wrote an anonymous letter to the Chancellor's lady, offering 3000 guineas if by her assistance he was promoted to it. This being traced to him, complaint was immediately made to the King, and Dr. Dodd was dismissed with disgrace from his post of chaplain. From this period he lived neglected, if not despised; and his extravagance still continuing, he became involved with difficulties, which tempted him to forge a bond from his late pupil Lord Chesterfield, Feb. 4th, 1777, for 4200 which he actually received; but, being detected, was tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty, and received sentence of death; and, in spite of every application for mercy, was executed at Tyburn, June 27, 1777. Dr. Dodd was a voluminous writer, and possessed considerable abilities, with very little judgment and much vanity. Among other pursuits, he had made some attempts at dramatic poetry, and very early in life he wrote 1. The Syracusan. T. This is said to have been in the hands of one of the managers when he took orders; but on that event was withdrawn. 2. Sir Roger de Coverly. C. Respecting this piece an anecdote will be found in Vol. III. p. 278. Neither of these plays has been published.