Doddridge, Dr Philip

Independent minister, author and hymnwriter, the grandson of one of the ejected clergy of 1662. He was born in London on 26 June 1702. His years at the dissenting academy run by the independent minister John Jennings taught him to value and encourage frredom of enquiry. In 1730 he was ordained as minister of the Castle Hill church, Northampton, and remained there for the rest of his life. Fame and influence came from his preaching and tutorship at his Dissenting Academy. John Wesley, George Whitefield and the Countess of Huntingdon were in his circle of acquaintances. His catholocity of spirit was shared by Wesley, who visited him in September 1745 and spoke to his students. Wesley later consulted him on the reading list for his itinerants and on the compilation of his Christian Library.

Opposing high Calvinism, Doddridge sought to unite Dissenters (on whom he wrote his Free Thoughts on the Most Probable Means of Reviving the Dissenting Interest in 1730), though he was disenchanted by the Moravians. Wilberforce was converted through reading his Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul (1745). His Family Expositor was an aid to the reading and understanding of the New Testament. Aberdeen University awarded him a DD in 1736. A number of his hymns have remained in general use, including 'Hark the glad sound! The Saviour comes' (HP 82; SF 171) and (in altered form) 'O God of Bethel' (HP 442; SF 475). Charles Wesley described him as a 'loving, mild and judicious Christian'. Suffering from consumption, he died in Lisbon on 26 October 1751, following a voyage seeking to recuperate his health.

  • W.S. Kelynack, in London Quarterly and Holborn Review, October 1951 pp.327-33
  • Geoffrey F. Nuttall (ed.), Philip Doddridge 1702-51; his contribution to English religion (1951)
  • A. Kingsley Lloyd, 'Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) and John Wesley: a Bicentenary Appreciation', in WHS Proceedings, 28 pp.50-52
  • Alan C. Clifford, 'Philip Doddridge and the Oxford Methodists', in WHS Proceedings, 42 pp.75-80
  • M. Deacon, Philip Doddridge of Northampton (Northampton, 1980)
  • J.R. Watson, The English Hymn: a critical and historical study (1997), pp.179-90
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
  • Oxford DNB