Dorrington, Theophilus (DNB00)

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DORRINGTON, THEOPHILUS (d. 1715), controversialist, the son of nonconformist parents, was educated for the ministry. In 1678 he conducted, with three other young nonconformist ministers, the evening lecture at a coffee-house in Exchange Alley, London, which was attended by many of the wealthiest merchants in the city. He afterwards saw fit to desert the dissenters, and ‘in a most ungenerous manner wrote against his former friends’ (Wilson, Dissenting Churches, iii. 447). On 13 June 1680 he entered himself on the physic line at Leyden (Peacock, Index of Leyden Students, Index Soc., p. 29). In 1698 he travelled in Holland and Germany, and afterwards published some account of his wanderings. His piety, not to say bigotry, commended him to the notice of Williams, bishop of Chichester, by whom he was encouraged to take orders in the established church (Dedication to Bishop Williams of his Vindication of the Christian Church). In November 1698 he was presented by Archbishop Tenison to the valuable rectory of Wittersham, Kent (Hasted, Kent, fol. edit. iii. 546). As a member of Magdalen College, Oxford, he obtained from convocation the degree of M.A., 9 March 1710 (Cat. of Oxford Graduates, ed. 1851, p. 192). He died at Wittersham on 30 April 1715 (Rawlinson MS. C. 915), and was buried in the chancel of the church. His will, dated 1 May 1699, ‘being then very ill in body,’ was proved on 17 May 1715 by his widow Elizabeth, the daughter of Joseph Waldo of Hoxton in the parish of Shoreditch (reg. in P. C. C. 85, Fagg). His portrait by C. Franck, engraved by G. Bouttats, is prefixed to his ‘Family Devotions,’ 3rd edition, 1703. Among Dorrington's numerous publications the following, as the most important, may be enumerated: 1. ‘The Right Use of an Estate. … A Sermon’ [on 1 Cor. vii. 31], 4to, London, 1683. 2. ‘Reform'd Devotions,’ 8vo, London, 1687 (fourth edition, reviewed, 12mo, London, 1696; sixth edition, 8vo, London, 1704; ninth edition, 12mo, London, 1727). 3. ‘The Excellent Woman described by her True Characters and their opposites’ [dedication signed T. D.], 2 pts., 12mo, London, 1692–5. 4. ‘Family Devotions for Sunday Evenings,’ 4 vols. 8vo, London, 1693–5 (third edition, revised, 4 vols. 8vo, London, 1703). 5. ‘A Familiar Guide to the Right and Profitable Receiving of the Lord's Supper,’ 12mo, London, 1695 (seventh edition, 12mo, London, 1718; a French version was published 8vo, London, 1699). 6. ‘Observations concerning the Present State of Religion in the Romish Church, with some reflections upon them made in a journey through some provinces of Germany in the year 1698; as also an account of what seemed most remarkable in those countries,’ 8vo, London, 1699. 7. ‘A Vindication of the Christian Church in the Baptizing of Infants, drawn from the Holy Scriptures,’ 8vo, London, 1701. It was answered in 1705 in ‘A Discourse of Baptism,’ by P. B., ‘a minister of the church of England.’ 8. ‘The Dissenting Ministry in Religion censured and condemned from the Holy Scriptures,’ 8vo, London, 1703. This mean attack upon his former colleagues drew forth an admirable reply from the younger Calamy, in a postscript at the end of part i. of his ‘Defence of Moderate Nonconformity,’ 1703 (pp. 239–61). 9. ‘A Discourse on Singing in the Worship of God,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1704. 10. ‘Family Instruction for the Church of England, offer'd in several practical discourses,’ 8vo, London, 1705. 11. ‘The Regulations of Play proposed and recommended, in a Sermon’ [on Prov. x. 23], 4to, London, 1706 (another edition appeared the same year). 12. ‘Devotions for Several Occasions,’ 12mo, London, 1707. 13. ‘A Discourse [on Eph. vi. 18] on Praying by the Spirit in the use of Common Prayers,’ 12mo, London, 1708. 14. ‘The Dissenters represented and condemned by themselves’ (anon.), 8vo, London, 1710. 15. ‘The Worship of God recommended, in a Sermon [on Matt. iv. 10] preach'd before the University of Oxford … April 8th, 1711. With an Epistle in Defence of the Universities,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1712. 16. ‘The True Foundation of Obedience and Submission to His Majesty King George stated and confirm'd, and the late Happy Revolution vindicated,’ 8vo, London, 1714. 17. ‘The Plain Man's Preservative from the Error of the Anabaptists, showing the Professors of the Establish'd Religion how they may defend the Baptism they receiv'd in their Infancy against them. … Second edition,’ 12mo, London 1729. Besides these and other less important works, Dorrington translated from the Latin of Puffendorf ‘The Divine Feudal Law,’ 8vo, London, 1703, and ‘A View of the Principles of the Lutheran Churches,’ 8vo, London, 1714, which came to a second edition in the same year. Noble (continuation of Granger, i. 112, ii. 142, followed by Watt, Bibl. Brit. i. 313 s) wrongly ascribed to Dorrington the authorship of a once popular little manual entitled ‘Devotions in the Ancient Way of Offices. … Reformed by a Person of Quality [Susannah Hopton], and published by George Hickes, D.D.,’ 12mo, London, 1701. It was written by John Austin.

Mrs. Dorrington survived until 1739. Her will, as of Maidstone, Kent, dated 30 April 1737, was proved on 22 Oct. 1739 by an unmarried daughter, Sarah (reg. in P. C. C., 209, Henchman).

A son, Theophilus Dorrington, became treasurer of the East India Company, and died in the parish of St. Mary, Lambeth, 5 Nov. 1768 (Lond. Mag. 1768, p. 704; Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1768). His will of 7 July 1768 was proved on the following 16 Nov. (reg. in P. C. C., 407, Secker). By his wife, Ann, he left issue four sons, Theophilus, Edward Waldo, Joseph, and Savary, and a daughter, Ann.

[Authorities cited in the text.]

G. G.