standing he took that degree 9 Dec. 1647, by accumulation, without the usual preliminary of the B.A. degree (Wood, Fasti, ii. 103). On the parliamentary visitation of the university the following year, he replied to the demand whether he would submit to the authority of parliament, 3 May 1648, that ‘as to his apprehension there was some ambiguity in the words of the question; until it was further explained he could not make any direct categorical answer to it’ (Register of the Visitors of the Univ. of Oxford, ed. Burrows, Camden Soc., p. 32). He was deprived of his studentship, and his name was removed from the books of the house. Of the next eight years of Dolben's life we have no record. In 1656 he was ordained by Bishop King of Chichester, and the next year he married Catherine, daughter of Ralph Sheldon, esq., of Stanton, Derbyshire, the niece of Dr. Sheldon, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Sheldon had a house in St. Aldates, Oxford, where Dolben found a home until after the Restoration. During this period Dolben shares with Fell [q. v.] and Allestree [q. v.] the honour of having privately maintained the service and administered the sacraments of the proscribed church of England in defiance of the penal laws. The place of meeting was the house of Dr. Thomas Willis [q. v.], the celebrated physician (whose sister Fell had married), opposite to Merton College, to which, writes Wood, ‘most of the loyalists in Oxford, especially scholars ejected in 1648, did daily resort’ (Athenæ Oxon. iii. 1050). This courageous act of loyalty to their church was commemorated by the pencil of Sir Peter Lely in two pictures, one hanging in the deanery at Christ Church, and a copy of the other, which belongs to Dolben's descendants at Finedon Hall, in the hall of the same college. The three divines are painted seated at a table, in their gowns and bands, with open prayer-books before them, Dolben occupying the centre, with Allestree on the right hand and Fell on the left. These private services were continued until the Restoration. Dolben's services insured honourable recognition. But preferment was hardly rapid enough to satisfy his expectations. As early as April 1660 Dolben and Allestree petitioned the crown for canonries at Christ Church (State Papers, Dom. p. 86), to which they were appointed within ten days of one another, Allestree on the 17th, Dolben on 27 July; in the words of South's consecration sermon, ‘returning poor and bare to a college as bare, after a long persecution.’ The bareness of his college he did his best to retrieve as soon as he had the means, contributing largely to the erection of the north side of the great quadrangle undertaken by Dr. Fell. In commemoration of this munificence his arms as archbishop of York are carved on the roof of the great gateway erected by Sir Christopher Wren. On 3 Oct. of the same year he took his D.D. degree, in company with their loyal colleagues Allestree and Fell. Dolben was also appointed about the same time to the living of Newington-cum-Britwell, Oxfordshire, on the king's presentation. On 7 Feb. 1661 he writes to Williams, as secretary to Sir Edward Nicholas, secretary of state, thanking him for the care of his business, which he begs he will expedite, adding that he ‘will send any money that may be wanted.’ Such powerful advocacy was not in vain. On the 29th of the following April he was installed prebendary of Caddington Major in the cathedral of St. Paul's, his wife's uncle, Sheldon, being bishop of London, and the following year, 11 Oct. 1662, became on his nomination archdeacon of London, and shortly afterwards vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate. The next year he rose to the higher dignity of the deanery of Westminster, being installed 5 Dec. 1662. It is recorded to his credit that on his appointment as dean he at once gave up his parochial benefices, and in 1664 resigned his archdeaconry. His stall he held till he was advanced to the episcopate in 1666. Canon Overton remarks: ‘Perhaps the fact of Dolben having married Sheldon's niece was no hindrance to his promotion; but he deserved it by his merits. He was a man of great benevolence, generosity, and candour, noted as an excellent preacher, described by Hickes (Memoirs of Comber, p. 189) as very conversable and popular, and such every way as gave him a mighty advantage of doing much good,’ &c. (Life in the English Church, p. 33). Comber himself speaks of him as ‘a prelate of great presence, ready parts, graceful conversation, and wondrous generosity’ (Memoirs, u. s. p. 212). In October 1660, when the regicides were lying under sentence of death, Dolben was commissioned, in conjunction with Dr. Barwick [q. v.], dean of St. Paul's, to visit them in the hope of persuading them to condemn their act. They began with the military divine, Hugh Peters, in the hope that he might use his influence with his companions, by whom ‘his prophecies were regarded as oracles.’ Their exhortations, however, entirely failed (Barwick's Life, p. 295). Dolben was elected prolocutor of the lower house of convocation, in succession to Dr. Barwick in 1664, and appointed clerk of the closet in the same year, a position of great difficulty in so licentious a court, which he filled with courage and dignity (State Papers, Dom.
Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/196
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