DODDRIDGE, PHILIP, D.D. (1702-1751), nonconformist divine, was born in London on 26 June 1702. His father, Daniel Doddridge (d. 17 July 1715), a prosperous oilman, was a son of an ejected minister, John Doddridge, and a grandson of Philip Doddridge, younger brother of Sir John Doddridge [q. v.] Daniel Doddridge married the daughter of John Bauman, a Lutheran preacher at Prague, who fled from persecution in 1626, and eventually kept a private school at Kingston-on-Thames. Philip was the twentieth and last issue of the marriage; so few were the signs of life at his birth that at first he was given up for dead; his constitution was always extremely delicate. But one other of the twenty children reached maturity, Elizabeth (d. March 1735), who married John Nettleton, dissenting minister at Ongar, Essex.
Doddridge told Orton that his education
was begun by his mother, who taught him
Bible history from the pictures on the
Dutch tiles of the chimney. He learned his Latin
grammar at a private school kept by Stott,
Doddridge at once left school, and went to consult about his future with his sister, then newly married and residing at Hampstead. The Duchess of Bedford offered him an education at either university, and provision in the church. But he scrupled about conformity. He appealed to Edmand Calamy, D.D. (1671-1732) [q. v.], to forward his desire of entering the dissenting ministry, but Calamy advised him to turn his thoughts to something else. It has been suggested that Calamy saw the dissenting interest was declining; yet this was before the rent in nonconformity at Salters' Hall (1719) which began the decline afterwards lamented by Calamy. Doddridge's extreme youth and consumptive tendency supply the natural explanation of Calamy's advice. Doddridge was recommended by Horseman, a leading conveyancer, to Sir Robert Eyre [q. v.] with a view to his studying for the bar. But a letter from Clark, opening his house to him if he still preferred the dissenting ministry, decided his future.
His theological preparation was begun by
Clark, who admitted him as a communicant
on 1 Feb. 1719. In October of that year
he entered the academy of John Jennings
[q. v.] at Kibworth, Leicestershire. Jennings
was an independent, but a few of his students,
including Doddridge, were aided by grants
from the presbyterian fund. Other small
grants reduced the burden of expense, which
fell on Clark, to about 12l. a year. This
The academy was removed to Hinckley, Leicestershire, in July 1722, and on 22 July Doddridged preached his first sermon in the old meeting-house taken down in that year. The state of his finances made it necessary for him to seek a settlement as soon as possible. On 25 Jan. 1723 he passed an examination before three ministers, qualifying him for a certificate of approbation from the county meeting in May. He had already taken the oaths and made the subscription required by the Toleration Act (ib. i. 173), though, as a term of communion among dissenters, he was resolved never to subscribe (ib. pp. 200, 335). At the beginning of June 1723 he became minister at Kibworth to a congregation of 150 people with a stipend of 35l. Stanford prints an extract o what he supposes to be Doddridge's confession of faith on this occasion. But at Kibworth he was not ordained, and made no confession. The document in question is believed by Principal Newth to be the confession of Doddridge's pupil, Thomas Steffe, ordained 14 Julv 1741; Doddridge wrote his life, prefixed to posthumous sermons, 1742, 12mo.
Almost simultaneously with the invitation
to Kibworth, Doddridge had been sought by
the presbyterian congregation at Coventry,
'one of the largest dissenting congregations
in England,' as an assistant to John Warren.
He would gladly have accepted this position
had the offer been unanimous; but
Warren favoured another man. The result
was a split in the congregation and the erection
of a new meeting-house. Doddridge
was invited (February 1724) to become its
first minister; he unhesitatingly declined to
go in opposition to Warren. Overtures from
Pershore, Worcestershire (October 1723),
and from Haberdashers' Hall, London (November
1723), he had already rejected, partly
because he did not wish to be ordained so
soon, chiefly because in the first case they
were 'a very rigid sort of people' (ib. i. 286),
and in the second he thought it probably that
Doddridge's correspondence is remarkable at this period for its lively play of sportive vivacity, its absence of reserve, and its pervading elements of healthy good sense. Whatever he did was done with zest; and the elasticity of his spirits found vent in playful letters to his female friends. At Coventry he was charged with 'some levities,' according to William Tong (ib. ii. 6). The use of tobacco (ib. p. 39) was a lawful form of dissipation for divines; but cards, 'a chapter or two in the history of the four kings' (ib. p. 139), were somewhat unpuritanical. While at Kibworth, he boarded for a short time with the Perkins family at Little Stretton; then for a longer period at Burton Overy, in the family of Freeman, related to William Tong. To the only daughter, Catherine, owner of the 'one hoop-petticoat' in his 'whole diocess' (ib. i. 245), Doddridge speedily lost his heart. His sister's warnings were met with the query, 'Did you ever know me marry foolishly in my life?' (ib. p. 432). The lady seems to have used him badly, and finally discarded him, in September 1728. On 29 May 1730 Doddridge wrote a proposal to Jane Jennings (mother of Mrs. Barbauld), then in her sixteenth year (ib. iii. 20, corrected by Le Breton, p. 201). Nothing came of this, and in the following August he began the addresses which ended in his singularly happy marriage with Mercy Maris.
Meantime Doddridge had left Kibworth. In October 1725 he had removed his residence to Market Harborough, where his friend, David Some, was minister. By arrangement, the friends entered into a kind of joint pastorate of the two congregations. He had received (August 1727) an invitation to Bradfield, Norfolk, but the people there were 'so orthodox' that he had 'not the least thought of accepting it.' In December 1727 he was offered the charge of the presbyterian congregation in New Court, Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, but declined it. In November 1728 he was invited by the independent congregation at Castle Gate, Nottingham, and went thither to preach. While at Nottingham, the presbyterian congregation of the High Pavement offered him a colleagueship. But he rejected both overtures; among the independents there was too much 'high orthodoxy,' the presbyterians were broken into parties (ib. ii. 440, 448; see STANFORD for a correction of dates).
The death of Jennings in his prime (8 July
1723) had created a void in the dissenting
institutions for theological training. Need
was felt of a midland academy at once liberal
Early in the same year (1730) appeared an anonymous 'Enquiry' into the causes of the decay of the dissenting interest, which made some stir. The author was Strickland Gough [q. v.], a young, dissenting minister, who shortly afterwards conformed. The 'Enquiry' provoked many replies, and among them was Doddridge's first publication. His 'Free Thoughts on the most probable means of reviving the Dissenting Interest,' by 'a minister in the country,' was issued on 11 July 1730 (according to the British Museum copy). Warburton, who was uncertain of its authorship, describes it as 'a masterpiece' (ib. iii. 392). Doddridge observes that in his neighborhood 'the number of dissenters is greatly increased within these twenty years.' Like Calamy, he has an eye to the political importance of a united nonconformist body. He recommends a healing and unifying policy. The problem was to retain the liberal and cultivated element among nonconformists, without losing hold of the people. Separation into congregations of diverse sentiments Doddridge thought suicidal. Union might be preserved by an evangelical ministry which combined religion with prudence. Bigotry, he observes, 'may be attacked by sap, more successfully than by storm.'
Doddridge carried out his own ideal
with great fidelity and with conspicuous success,
doing more than any man in the 18th century
to obliterate old party lines, and to
The truth is, Doddridge bad too many irons
in the fire. Orton laments (Letters, i. 4) 'his
unhappy inclination to publish so much,' and
'his almost entirely neglecting to compose
sermons and his preaching extempore.' Doddridge's
manuscripts include many sermons
written out in full. His correspondence
heavily taxed his time, as he had no amanuensis;
on one occasion he says that after
At an early stage in his career as a tutor Doddridge came into conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities. Wills, vicar of Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire, complained that one of his students had preached in a barn in his parish. Reynolds, the diocesan chancellor, directed the churchwardens to present Doddridge unless he held the bishop's license. Doddridge refused to accept any license, and was cited to appear in the consistory court on 6 Nov. 1733. In the following December his house was attacked by a mob. This drew expressions of sympathy from Lord Halifax and other public men. Aided by the London committee of dissenting deputies, Doddridge carried the legal question to Westminster Hall, where on 3l Jan. 1734 the judges granted a prohibition in his favour. The case was renewed in June, when Reynolds pleaded that the prohibition had been illegally issued. Proceedings, however, were stopped by a message from the king, George II. In 1736 he received the degree of D.D. from the two universities at Aberdeen. From 1738 his academy was subsidised by the Coward trustees [see COWARD, WILLIAM, d. 1738].
Doddridge's equipment for the work of his
academy was serviceable rather than profound.
He had a great and discriminating
knowledge of books. Wesley consulted him
on a course of reading for young preachers,
and received a very detailed reply (18 June
1746). He knew and understood his public;
his influence on his pupils was stimulating
and liberalising. Doddridge made the use
of shorthand, already common, imperative,
adapting the system of Jeremy Rich. Each
student carried away a full transcript in shorthand
of his lectures, as well as of illustrative
extracts. The mathematical form of his lectures
(in philosophy and divinity), with the
neat array of definitions, propositions, and
corollaries, was borrowed from Jennings.
Jennings, however, lectured in Latin; Doddridge
was one of the first to introduce the practice
of lecturing in English. A very elaborate
system of rules for the academy exists
in manuscript (dated December 1743, and
subsequently revised). Orton complains (ib.
ut sup.) that the rules were not enforced,
that Doddridge did not keep up his own authority,
but left it to an assistant to maintain
regularity. He assigns this as the reason for
his quitting the post of assistant. Owing to
Doddridge's numerous engagements, 'all the
business of the day' was thrown too late; and
the students 'lived too well,' which was partly
due to Doddridge's hospitality to visitors.
The total number of his students was about
At Northampton Doddridge 'set up a charity school' (1737) for teaching and clothing the children of the poor, an example set him by Clark, and followed elsewhere. He had an important share in the foundation of the county infirmary (1743). He proposed the formation of a society for distributing bibles and other good books among the poor. His scheme for the advancement of the gospel at home and abroad, presented to three different assemblies of ministers in 1741, has been described as the first nonconformist project of foreign missions; it was probably suggested by his correspondence with Zinzendorf. In l748 he laid before Archbishop Herring a proposal for occasional interchange of pulpits between the established and dissenting clergy.
The religious genius of Doddridge is seen
at its best in the powerful addresses which make up his volume
'On the Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,'
1745. This work was planned and prompted by
who revised a portion of it. Its popularity
has been steadily maintained; it has
been rendered into a great variety of languages,
including Tamil and Syriac. His
'Family Expositor,' of which the first volume
Doddridge is justly admired as a writer of hymns. Here Watts was his model, and if he never rises so high as Watts, he never sinks so low. In his versified epitome of christian instruction for children (1743) he invaded a province which Watts had made peculiarly his own; this 'light essay' cannot be called very successful, though it is said to have been a favourite with George III as a boy. His hymns were chiefly composed on the basis of some scriptural text; they were circulated in manuscript, and often sung in worship, being given out line by line in the old dissenting way; a few were printed in connection with the sermons on which they bore, but they were never collected till after Doddridge's death. Their use has by no means been confined to dissenters; a Christmas hymn and a communion hymn (said to have been inserted by a dissenting printer) at the end of the Book of Common Prayer are by Doddridge; the paraphrases of the church of Scotland have borrowed from him. Dr. Johnson pronounces his 'Live while you live' to be 'one of the finest epigrams in the English language.'
Doddridge's multifarious labours had made
too great demands on the vitality of a slender
constitution. On his way to the funeral of
his early benefactor, Clark, in December
1750, at St. Albans, he caught a severe cold,
and could not shake off its effects. His last
sermon at Northampton was preached on
14 July 1751; he delivered a charge at
Bewdley, Worcestershire, on 18 July, visited
Orton at Shrewsbury, and in August went to
Bristol for the hot wells. Maddox, bishop of
Worcester, called on him, and offered the use
of his carriage. A sum of 300l., to which
Lady Huntingdon contributed one-third, was
raised by his friends to enable him to try a
voyage to Lisbon. He left Bristol on l7 Sept.,
stayed a short time with Lady Huntingdon
at Bath, and sailed from Falmouth on 30 Sept.,
accompanied by his wife and a servant. At
Lisbon he was the guest of David King, son
of a member of his Northampton flock. His
spirits revived, but his strength was gone.
He died on 26 Oct. 1751, and was buried in
the English cemetery at Lisbon. His congregation
erected a monument to his memory
Doddridge was tall, slight, and extremely near-sighted. His portrait was several times painted, and has often been engraved. The engraving by Worthington, prefixed to the 'Correspondence,' is from a portrait finished 10 August 1750, and regarded by his family as the best likeness. He married, on 22 Dec. 1730, Mercy Maria, an orphan, born at Worcester, but brought up by an uncle, Ebenezer Hankins, at Upton-on-Severn; she died at Tewkesbury, 7 April 1790, aged 82. In his letters to his wife, Doddridge, after many years of married life, writes with all the warmth and sometimes with all the petulance of a lover. Among his manuscripts is a letter (1741) superscribed 'To my trusty and well-beloved Mrs. Mercy Doddridge, the dearest of all dears, the wisest of all my earthly councellors, and of all my governours the most potent, yet the most gentle and moderate.' For the dates of birth of his three sons and six daughters see 'Correspondence,' v. 531 n. Five of his children died in infancy. He left one son, Philip, 'his unhappy son' (ORTON, Letters, ii. 56), who died unmarried on 13 March 1785, aged 47; and three daughters, Mary, who became the second wife of John Humphreys of Tewkesbury, and died on 8 June 1799, aged 66; Mercy, who died unmarried at Bath on 20 Oct. 1809, aged 75; and Anna Cecilia, who died at Tewkesbury on 3 Oct. 1811, aged 74.
Doddridge's will (dated 11 June 1741) with codicils (dated 4 July 1749) is printed with the 'Correspondence.' The original document is entirely in Doddridge's hand, and there are interlineations in the will, made subsequent to 1741. Of these the most important is the substitution of Ashworth for Orton as his nominated successor in the academy and (if approved by the congregation) in the pastoral office.
His works were collected in 10 vols. Leeds, 1802-5,
8vo; reprinted 1811, 8vo. The chief
items are the following: 1. 'Free Thoughts
on the most probable means of reviving
the Dissenting Interest,' 1730, 8vo (anon.)
2. 'Sermons on the Religious Education of
Children,' 1732, 12mo (preface by D. Some).
3. 'Submission to Divine Providence in the
Death of Children,' 1737, 8vo (sermon on
2 K. iv. 25, 26, said to have been written
on the coffin of his daughter Elizabeth).
4. 'The Family Expositor,' 1739-56, 6 vols.
4to (the last volume was published posthumously
by Orton; Doddridge finished the
exposition on 31 Dec. 1748, and the notes
on 21 Aug. 1749; he had prepared a similar
exposition of the Minor Prophets, which was
completed 5 June 1751, and is still in manuscript).
5. 'The Evil and Danger of Neglecting
the Souls of Men,' 1742, 8vo (sermon
on Prov. xxiv. 11, 12, prefaced by his
plan of a home and foreign mission). 6. 'The
Principles of the Christian Religion, expressed
in plain and easy verse,' 1743, 12mo.
7. 'The Rise and Progress of Religion in the
Soul,' 1745, 8vo and 12mo (the 8vo is the
earlier issue); in French, by J. S. Vernede,
Bienne, 1754, 8vo; Welsh, by J. Griffith,
1788, 12mo; Gaelic, Edinb. 1811, 12mo;
Italian, 1812, 12mo; Tamil, Jaffna, 1848,
12mo; Syriac, by J. Perkins, Urumea, 1857,
4to; also in Dutch, German, and Danish.
8. 'Some Remarkable Passages in the Life
of the honourable Colonel James Gardiner . . .
with an appendix relating to the
antient family of the Munros of Fowlis,'
1747, 8vo (with portrait of Gardiner [q. v.]).
Posthumous were 9. 'Hymns,' Salop, 1755,
12mo (contains 370 hymns, edited by Orton);
reissued by Humphreys, as 'Scriptural
Hymns,' 1839, 16mo (some copies have title
'The Scripture Hymn-book,' and no date);
Humphreys gives 397 hymns; he claims to
have restored in some places the true readings
from Doddridge's manuscripts, but in others
he admits having made what he considers
improvements, but no suppressions. 10. 'A
Course of Lectures on Pneumatology, Ethics,
and Divinity,' 1763, 4to (edited by S. Clark);
2nd edit. 1776, 4to; 3rd edit. 1794, 8vo,
2 vols. (edited by Kippis). 11. 'Lectures
on Preaching' (edited from four manuscript
notebooks; another recension was printed in
the 'Universal Theological Magazine,' August
1803 and following issues, by Edmund
Butcher [q. v.]; the first separate issue is
1821, 8vo). Not included in the collected
works are 12. 'A Brief and Easy System of
Short-hand: first invented by Jeremiah Rich,
and improved by Dr. Doddridge,' 1799, 12mo
(in this first edition the characters are 'made
with a pen'). 13. 'The Leading Heads of
Twenty-seven Sermons,' Northampton, 1816,
8vo (transcribed from a hearer's notes by
T. Hawkins). 14. 'The Correspondence and
Diary of Philip Doddridge,' 1829-31, 8vo,
5 vols. (edited by his great-grandson, John
Doddridge Humphreys, who has been attacked
for his mode of editing; he details
his plan, iv. 570 n.; he claims to have
omitted no passage bearing on Doddridge's
personal history or theological opinions).
[Orton's Memoirs, 1766, are stiffly written and broken into sermonising sections. They are expanded, at inordinate length, by Kippis, in Biog. Brit. 1793. Prefixed to the Works is a reprint of Orton, with notes taken from Kippis. Orton's Letters to Dissenting Ministers, 1806, supply some interesting hints; but the real Doddridge was first unveiled in the Correspondence, 1829-31. Stanford's Philip Doddridge, 1880, is the best life at present, yet a better is desirable; Stanford has worked in valuable materials from unpublished sources, but his book needs revision. Use has been made above of Stoughton's Philip Doddridge . . . a Centenary Memorial, 1851; Coleman's Memorials of Indep. Churches in Northamptonshire, 1853, pp. 13 sq.; Sibree's Independency in Warwickshire, 1855, pp. 37 sq.; Carpenter's Presbyterianism in Nottingham, 1862, p. 143 sq. (extracts from unpublished letters); Christian Reformer, 1866, p. 552 sq. ('Ecclesiastical Proceedings against Dr. Doddridge'); Miller's Our Hymns, 1866, p. 113 sq., Hunt's Religious Thought in England, 1873, iii. 245 sq.; Le Breton's Mem. of Mrs. Barbauld, 1874; Waddington's Congregational History, 1700-1800, 1876, p. 280; Christian Life, 3 Nov. 1877, p. 535 (communication from the Rev. J. S. Porter respecting Thomas Taylor, his predecessor in the ministry at Carter Lane, Doctors' Commons); Stoughton's Hist. of Religion in England, 1881, vi. 96, 351; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, p. xi; Westby-Gibson's Dr. Doddridge's Nonconformist Academy and Education by Shorthand, reprinted from Phonetic Journal, 3 April 1886, and following issues; many original letters of Doddridge are printed only in the volumes of the Monthly Repository and Christian Reformer; some use also has been made of the large collection of Doddridge's original manuscripts in the library of New College, South Hampstead (the existing representative of Doddridge's academy), and of the wills of Doddridge and his wife at Somerset House.]
From: Dictionary of National Biography
See also Works by Philip Doddridge at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.