William Dodd Bibliography

The Beauties of Shakespeare 1752
Reflections on Death 1763
Thoughts in prison: in five parts. Viz. The imprisonment. The retrospect. Publick punishment. The trial. Futurity. By the Rev. William Dodd, LLD. To which are added, ? other miscellaneous pieces 1777
Published posthumously in London but in the same year as Dodd’s execution. “The chaplain to the Thatched House Society (and earlier to the Magdalen House) was William Dodd, an adroit and ambitious divine who founded his career on the fashion for sentimental sermonizing. His performances in the pulpit were highly regarded, not least by philanthropic ladies disposed to pity the plight of fallen women and distressed debtors. He was also a swindler. A damaging attempt in 1774 to bribe the Lord Chancellor into appointing him to the lucrative living of St George’s, Hanover Square resulted in his dismissal as one of the King’s chaplains. A further miscalculation was more serious. He forged the signature of his former pupil the Earl of Chesterfield on a bond for £2,400. The trial which followed detection was reported in detail in the press. Chesterfield was condemned for his remorselessness in prosecuting his old tutor. A public campaign, supported by Dr Johnson and by the societies which Dodd had served, was mounted for his reprieve. Dodd seems confidently to have expected mercy. In prison he composed powerful invocations of the sentimental muse. His Prison Thoughts, published posthumously, dwelt heavily on the melancholy plight of the man of feeling as prison. ‘My friends are gone! Harsh on its sullen hinge Grates the dread door.’ It also included explicit appeals for reform. ‘Hail, generous Hanway.’ When the pleas failed Dodd was executed the spectacle of a philanthropic parson at the gallows sent a distinct shudder through the propertied community.” (Langford, A Polite and Commercial People, p. 491.)