Pakington, Dorothy (DNB00)

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PAKINGTON, DOROTHY, Lady (d. 1679), reputed author of the ‘Whole Duty of Man,’ was youngest daughter of Thomas Coventry, lord Coventry [q. v.] (lord-keeper 1625–1639), by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Aldersley of Spurstow, Cheshire, and widow of William Pitchford. She was born in or near London, but the date has not yet been ascertained. She was married, in what year is unknown, to Sir John Pakington (1620–1680) [q. v.] of Westwood, Worcestershire. His house was the asylum of Dr. Henry Hammond [q. v.] from 1649 until Hammond's death in 1660. Between Hammond and Lady Pakington there existed the strongest religious sympathy, and her house, while Hammond occupied it, became the natural resort of eminent divines of similar views. Fell, Henchman, Morley, Allestree, Pearson, Gunning, and Fulman, who acted as Hammond's amanuensis, all visited Westwood, and were Lady Pakington's familiar friends. When, therefore, the first edition of the ‘Whole Duty of Man’ appeared anonymously in 1658 (under the title of ‘The Practice of Christian Graces, or the Whole,’ &c.), with an address to the publisher, Garthwait, by Hammond, in which Hammond said that he had read over all the sheets, it was not unnaturally conjectured that the book came from the house in which he was then living, while Lady Pakington's acknowledged learning, wide reading, and religious earnestness favoured the idea that she might be the author. Letters from her to Bishop Morley and others (communicated to the writer by Lord Hampton) are still preserved at Westwood; they show by their excellent composition, not merely that Lady Pakington surpassed most ladies of her time in education, but that she was fully equal to the task of writing such a book. The first public allusion to her reputed authorship was not made till 1697—eighteen years after her death—when Dr. George Hickes [q. v.] dedicated to her grandson his Anglo-Saxon and Mœso-Gothic grammar in his ‘Linguarum Septentrionalium Thesaurus.’ Hickes there says that Lady Pakington's practical piety, talents, and excellence in composition entitled her to be called and esteemed (‘dici et haberi’) the authoress of the ‘Whole Duty.’ In a pamphlet published in 1702, ‘A Letter from a Clergyman in the Country,’ &c., it is definitely asserted that Archbishop Dolben, Bishop Fell, and Dr. Allestree all agreed from their own knowledge that the book was written by Lady Pakington, and that she would not allow this to be made known during her life. In 1698 a clergyman named Caulton made a declaration on his death-bed that Mrs. Eyre, a daughter of Lady Pakington, had nine years before shown him a manuscript of the book, which she affirmed to be her mother's own original copy—a manuscript which has, however, never since been seen, and which most probably was a copy made by Lady Dorothy for her own use from the original before publication. But, at the same time, Mrs. Eyre asserted that none of the other books alleged to be by the author of the ‘Whole Duty’ were written by her, except ‘The Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety;’ whereas Fell, who was certainly acquainted with the secret, declares in his preface to the collected edition of the ‘Works’ of the writer of the ‘Whole Duty,’ published in 1684, that they were all the work of one author, then deceased; and of this author he speaks in the masculine gender. The language, moreover, throughout the various books by the writer of the ‘Whole Duty’ is that of a practised divine, as well as of a scholar. There is evidence that the writer was acquainted, not merely with Greek and Latin, but also with Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. He was one, too (as is shown by a passage in § vii. of the ‘Lively Oracles’ published in 1678), who had travelled ‘in popish countries’ among those ‘whom the late troubles or other occasions sent abroad.’

Of the many persons to whom the authorship has been at various times ascribed, viz., Archbishop Sterne, Bishop Fell, Bishop Henchman, Bishop Chappell of Cork, Abraham Woodhead, Obadiah Walker, Archbishop Frewen, William Fulman, and Richard Allestree, besides one or two others, the preponderance of evidence seems so strongly to lie in favour of the last-named as practically to admit of little doubt on the matter. In behalf of Allestree an argument from agreement of time, learning, character, and friends, was put forth by the Rev. Francis Barham in an article in the ‘Journal of Sacred Literature’ for July 1864 (pp. 433–5), and this view has been very strongly and convincingly advocated, mainly from the internal evidence of style and vocabulary, by Mr. C. E. Doble, in three articles in the ‘Academy’ for November 1884. Mr. Doble concludes that Allestree was the author of all the printed works, as well as of one on the ‘Government of the Thoughts,’ still remaining in manuscript (Bodl. MS., Rawlinson, C. 700, a copy made from a copy written by Bishop Fell), but that Fell probably edited, and to a certain extent revised, them all. The external evidence for this view is chiefly, and sufficiently, found in an anonymous note in a copy of the ‘Decay’ (1675), which formerly belonged to White Kennett, and is now in the Bodleian Library; this note is couched in the following terms: ‘Dr. Allestree was author of this book, and wrote it in the very same year wherein he went thro' a course of chymistry with Dr. Willis, which is the reason why so many physical and chymical allusions are to be found in it. And the copy of it came to the press in the doctor's own handwriting, as Tim Garthwaite [the publisher] told the present Archbp. of Cant. [Tenison], and his Grace affirm'd to me in Sept. 1713’ (cf. Bibliographer, ii. 94; and for an account of a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, ib. p. 164, and Hearne's Diary, 1885, i. 281).

Lady Pakington died on 10 May 1679, leaving one son and two daughters, and was buried in Hampton-Lovett church, Worcestershire, on 13 May, ‘being buried in linnen, the forfiture payd according to the act’ (Burial Register). On a monument erected to her and her husband in the following century by her grandson, she is said to be ‘justly reputed the authoress of the “Whole Duty of Man.”’ A portrait of her, ‘Powle del.,’ engraved by V. Green, and published on 1 Jan. 1776, is to be found in Nash's ‘History of Worcestershire’ (1781, i. 352), where is printed a summary criticism of her alleged authorship by ‘one who had examined the question,’ and who concludes that she was only a copyist of the ‘Duty.’

[Besides the authorities cited above, see Ballard's Memoirs of British Ladies, 2nd edit. 1775, pp. 220–35, where Lady Pakington's authorship is maintained; Letters of W. Parry, H. Owen, and G. Ballard, pp. 125–134, vol. ii. of Letters by Eminent Persons, 1813; notes by Dr. Lort in Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, ii. 597–604; several communications in the first and third series of Notes and Queries. Evelyn in his Diary, under date of 16 July 1692, says that he was told by Bishop [Tenison] of Lincoln that one Dr. Chaplin of University College, Oxford, was the author of the 'Duty;' for Archbishop Sterne's claim see Bibliographer 1882, ii. 73-9, There is nothing among Lady Pakington's papers at Westwood (according to information courteously given by Lord Hampton) that throws any light upon the authorship.]

W. D. M.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.213
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
86 ii 30 Pakington, Dorothy, Lady: for Warwickshire read Worcestershire
88 i 3  after the 'Duty' insert (cf. Atterbury's Sermons, 1737, iv. 45)