Doddridge Family Correspondence, 1748-81,

Crew MS 50, Trinity College Library, 

Cambridge University

Portions of Philip Doddridge's correspondence first appeared in Thomas Stedman's edition of Letters (1790). Stedman's work was significantly supplanted J. D. Humphreys, Doddridge's grandson, in his Correspondence and Diary of Philip Doddridge, 5 vols (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1829-31). Humphreys's edition contained numerous additions, deletions, movable postscripts, and altered dating among the letters, so that many of his texts are not completely reliable. His volumes include some 350 correspondents, with more than 300 letters passing between Philip and Mercy Doddridge. The first calendar of the Doddridge's collected letters (as much as were available at that time) was compiled by Geoffrey F. Nuttall in his invaluable work, Calendar of the Correspondence of Philip Doddridge (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1979).  Nuttall collected 1814 letters to and from Doddridge, of which 430 of the 1165 manuscript letters had been printed in Humphreys and several other sources; some 642 of the printed letters did not have an original surviving manuscript (although some of them are now presented below from the newly discovered manuscripts). Of the 1165 MS letters, about half belonged to the New College Library, which is now the New Collection, London, Collection, held at Dr. Williams's Library. For more on Doddridge, see Geoffrey Nuttall, Philip Doddridge 1702-51: His Contribution to English Religion (London: Independent Press, 1951); Isabel Rivers, "Philip Doddridge," Oxford Dictionary National Biography; Isabel Rivers, "Philip Doddridge's New Testament: The Family Expositor (1739-56)," in The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences, ed.Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010); Tessa Whitehouse, "The Family Expositor, the Doddridge Circle and the Booksellers," The Library 11.3 (2010), 321-44; Tessa Whitehouse, The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800 (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015). Special thanks is also due to Jessica Dube, graduate student in English at Georgia Southern University, for her help in transcribing many of the letters in the Doddridge Family Correspondence. 

The 81 letters and 4 misc. documents published below by the female members of the Doddridge family -- Mercy Doddridge, her three daughters (Mary, Mercy, and Celia), and their cousin Mary Doddridge -- were not seen or accounted for by Stedman, Humphreys, or Nuttall, and do not appear to have been seen by any Doddridge scholar heretofore. When appropriate, I have collated them with Nuttall's Calendar, so that their place in the larger corpus of Doddridge's correspondence can be more easily ascertained. The letters that have links to them have been transcribed as closely as possible to the original manuscript, although the nature of these women's writing hand and their spelling, mechanical, and grammatical oddities and inconsistencies make an exact transcription extremely difficult. Some unusual spellings have been followed by [sic] but I have tried to keep that to a minimum. Some obvious word duplications that would normally have been marked through but were not have been silently removed, such "if you it desire it" when it clearly should read "if you desire it." Illegible words and phrases appears as <  >.  Missing words and variant spellings, especially for proper names, have been placed in square brackets [ ] to facilitate more accurate word searches. Many of Mary Doddridge's letters (the cousin) have only been summarized due to the difficulty of her hand. Identifications of 163 correspondents and individuals named in these letters as well as those in Part 3 (all noted the the letters in which they appear) can be found in the Biographical Index

Some of the unusual spellings include the following: orthers [authors], ather [author], spook [spoke], mencend [mentioned], espasaly [especially], goe [go], doe [do], gardings [gardens], gownd [gown], jouen [join], joynd [joined], afetcean [affection], affactinate [affectionate], sancation [sensation], brackfast [breakfast], angury [angry], aerring [airing], goen [gone], heather [hither], bleve, bleive [believe], too [two], wrighting [writing], sencer, scensere, sensire [sincere], scencerly [sincerely], alown [alone], suspition [suspicion], sertanly, sirtanly [certainly], St Alburns [Albans], duble [double], greachous [gracious], quielt [quilt], ingagend [engaging], indefrent [indiffernt], howle [whole], limates [limits], substanteoul [substantial], congreatalate [congratulate], disapir [despair], reaial [real], revarce [reverse], nessatity [necessity], extrodernary [extraordinary], unwing, unweng [unwilling], vele [veal], lest [least], tills [tells], lecter [lecture], and humer [humour]. 

All of the correspondents write in a similar hand, in which letters do not conform to standard usage, even by 18th century standards; the spelling of the three daughters, as well as their mother, Mercy, is extremely irregular, and punctuation largely non-existent. Mrs. Doddridge's deficiencies may be one reason why on several occasions her daughters and cousin comment on her dislike of writing letters). The largest number of letters by any of the correspondents in the volume are by Mary Doddridge, the cousin, and her hand is even more difficult and bizarre than the other correspondents, making her letters virtually unreadable, though an attempt has been made to transcribe four of them. What is surprising about the handwriting, spelling, and punctuation of Doddridge's daughters is that they did attend school a school for girls in Worcester operated by Ann Linton, and their father was a prominent minister, teacher, and writer himself. Despite their writing deficiencies (at times reminiscent of symptoms of dyslexia), these young women are nevertheless avid readers and their use of language possesses sufficient sophistication to mark them as the daughters of Philip and Mercy Doddridge.

Overview of the Letters:

One letter (1767) and one postscript (1753) by Mrs. Mercy Doddridge; 4 letters (1748-51) by Mary "Polly" Doddridge to her father, Philip Doddridge, 19 letters (1748-56) to her mother, Mercy Doddridge, and one letter (1751) addressed to both her parents; one letter by Mercy Doddridge (1751) to her mother; 6 letters by Celia [Cecilia] Doddridge (1751-68) to her mother; one letter (1751) by Mary Doddridge, the cousin, to Philip Doddridge, and 24 letters (1751-78) by her to Mrs. Mercy Doddridge; 5 letters (1749-53) by Mary Doddridge ("Roselinda" and "Belinda") to her sister, Mercy ("Cleora"); 18 letters (1750-53) from Mercy Doddridge to her sister, Mary; no correspondence between Celia and either of her two sisters has survived in this collection. The letters roughly fall into two chronological groups: 1748-1756, and 1767-68 (with a large section of letters by Mary Doddridge, the cousin, in Part 2 covering the period 1771-78. To read the transcript of the letter, open the links below.