Bodley, Josias (DNB00)

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BODLEY, Sir JOSIAS (1550?–1618), soldier and military engineer, was the fifth and youngest son of John Bodley of Exeter, of whose sons Sir Thomas Bodley was the eldest. The date of his birth is not known, but it was probably about 1550. His early youth was spent abroad with his family at Wesel and Geneva [see Bodley, Sir Thomas]. He had the same foreign education as the rest of his brothers, and figures with them as one of the correspondents of the learned Drusius. On the return of the family to England, he is said by Wood to have studied for a short time at Merton College, Oxford, but would seem to have left it without taking a degree. For a long interval nothing then is heard of him; we only know from a casual allusion by himself, in his ‘Journey to Lecale,’ to the Polish drinking customs of which he had been a witness, that he at some time visited Poland. He afterwards served in the English army in the Netherlands, and appears in 1598 as captain of a company of old troops withdrawn from Holland for service in Leinster against the great Earl of Tyrone. Thenceforward his life, with short intervals, was spent in military service in Ireland. In 1601, when governor of Newry, he distinguished himself by destroying a village on some small islet called Loghrorcan by Moryson, by means of arrows tipped with wild fire; and in the last months of the same year he was employed as trench-master at the siege of Kinsale, with an allowance of ten shillings per day. In 1603 he was engaged in a like capacity at Waterford, and in various garrisons in Ulster. On 28 May 1604, he had the custody of Duncannon Castle granted to him (by privy seal order of 15 Jan.), and resigned it in June 1606. On 25 March 1604 he was knighted by the lord deputy Mountjoy. In 1605 he was engaged on fortifications in Munster, and seems in that and following years to have been held in high repute for his skill in engineering. In 1607 he was in England, but returned to Ireland with an appointment from the privy council as superintendent of castles, at a stipend of twenty Irish shillings per day; in which work, in that and the next year, he says that he rode over seven hundred miles. The survey for the great Ulster plantation was entrusted to him, with others, in 1609, and was so well performed that in 1616 the king proposed to employ him in a renewed survey of the same province. But he complained in 1611 that he had had no share in the division, and prayed for a ‘competent allowance’ for the rest of his life. The prayer was answered on 3 Dec. 1612 by the issue of letters patent appointing him director-general of fortifications in Ireland for life. In November 1613 he was in England. He had probably come over in the earlier part of the year for the purpose of attending the funeral of his brother Thomas on 29 March, to whose library he had given in 1601 an astronomical sphere (which is now, by loan from the library, preserved in the new observatory at Oxford) and some other brass instruments. Sir Thomas in his will made a bequest to Josias of 100l. with some leasehold property in London, and a release from debt for loans. In 1615 he applied to Secretary Winwood for arrears of his allowance, which were ordered to be paid to him on 19 Jan. 1615–16, and in the application he says that he had served three apprenticeships in the army, a period which would carry back the date of his entering it to about the year 1594. But he had now reached the last years of his service, for on 9 Feb. 1617–18 we find that two successors were jointly appointed to the post of director of fortifications in the room of Bodley, deceased. His burial-place in Ireland has not been recorded.

In the catalogue of Sir James Ware's manuscripts (Dubl. 1648), two productions of his are mentioned. The first is entitled ‘Descriptio (lepida) itineris d. Josiæ Bodleii ad Lecaliam in Ultonia anno 1602.’ This copy is now in the British Museum, Add. MS. 4784, another copy is among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and others are to be met with elsewhere. It is a jocose description, in doggerel Latin, of a journey in company with Captains Toby Caulfield and John Jephson, from Armagh to Downpatrick (the barony of which was called Lecale) to keep Christmas with the governor there, Sir Richard Morrison. A description of the governor of Armagh is supposed to refer to the author himself. The passage runs : ‘unus valde honestus homo, cum barba nigra, qui tructat omnes bene, secundum parvam habilitatem suam, et tractaret multo melius si haberet plus illius rei quam Angli vocant meanes.’ He enlarges much in vindication of hard drinking and occasional, as distinct from habitual, drunkenness, and also of much tobacco-smoking. The tract is printed with a translation, and with notes which were never completed, in vol. ii. of the ‘Ulster Journal of Archæo1ogy,’ 1854, pp. 73-99. The second Ware MS. is said to be Observations in English on the forts in Ireland and on the colonies planted in Ulster. Where this manuscript is now preserved does not appear; but probably the tract may only consist of some of his official reports, very many of which are preserved among the state papers.

[Prince's Worthies of Devon; Calendars of the State Papers of Ireland, 1603-1625 (5 vols., 1872-80); Calendars of the Carew MSS., 1601-1624 (2 vols. l872–3); Fynes Moryson's Itinerary (1617), part ii. pp. 25, 97-8; Liber Minerum Hiberniæ, vol. i. part ii. l06.]

W. D. M.