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 William Dodd

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William Dodd

Birth
Death 27 Jun 1777 (aged 48)
Burial Cowley, London Borough of Hillingdon, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 147303358 View Source

English Anglican clergyman and a man of letters. He dabbled in forgery in an effort to clear his debts, was caught, convicted, and, despite a public campaign for a Royal pardon, became the last person to be hanged at Tyburn for forgery.
Born in Bourne in Lincolnshire, he was the son of the local vicar. He attended Clare Hall in the University of Cambridge from 1745 to 1750, where he achieved academic success and graduated as a wrangler. He then moved to London, where his spendthrift habits soon left him in debt. He married impulsively on 15 April 1751, to Mary Perkins, daughter of a domestic servant, leaving his finances in an even more precarious position.
At the urging of his concerned father, he decided to take holy orders, and was ordained a deacon in 1751 and a priest in 1753, serving as a curate in a church in West Ham, then as a preacher at St James Garlickhythe, and then at St Olave Hart Street. He became a popular and fashionable preacher, and was appointed as a chaplain in ordinary to the King in 1763. He became chaplain to the King, and became a Doctor of Laws at Cambridge University in 1766. Despite his profession, he continued his extravagant lifestyle, and became known as the "macaroni parson". In 1772, he became rector of Hockliffe, in Bedfordshire, and vicar of Chalgrave.
In February 1777, he forged a bond for £4,200 in the name of his former pupil, the Earl of Chesterfield, to clear his debts. A banker accepted the bond in good faith, and lent him money on the strength of it. Later the banker noticed a small blot in the text and had the document re-written. When the clean copy was presented to the Earl to sign, in order to replace the old one, the forgery was discovered. Dodd immediately confessed, and begged time to make amends. He was, however, imprisoned in the Wood Street Compter pending trial. He was convicted, and sentenced to death. Samuel Johnson wrote several papers in his defence, and some 23,000 people signed a 37-page petition seeking a pardon. Nevertheless, Dodd was publicly hanged at Tyburn on 27 June 1777.
He wrote several published works, including poems, a novel, and theological tracts. His most successful work was The Beauties of Shakespeare (1752). He also wrote a Commentary on the Bible (1765–1770), and composed the blank verse Thoughts in Prison while in Newgate Prison between his conviction and execution.


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  • Created by: julia&keld
  • Added: 1 Jun 2015
  • Find a Grave Memorial 147303358
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147303358/william-dodd : accessed ), memorial page for William Dodd (29 May 1729–27 Jun 1777), Find a Grave Memorial ID 147303358, citing St. Laurence Churchyard, Cowley, London Borough of Hillingdon, Greater London, England ; Maintained by julia&keld (contributor 46812479) .