John Dod

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John Dod

John Dod (c. 1549 – 1645), known as “Decalogue Dod”, was a non-conforming English clergyman, taking his nickname for his emphasis on the Ten Commandments. He is known for his widely circulated writings. Although he lost one means of livelihood because of Puritan beliefs, he had important support from sympathetic members of the Puritan gentry throughout a long career.


He was born in Malpas, Cheshire, the youngest of a family of seventeen. His parents were possessed of a moderate estate, and after he had received his early education at Westchester sent him when about fourteen to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was elected scholar and afterwards fellow. He was a learned man, a Hebraist, and, it is said, witty and cheerful.[1][2]

He was vicar of Hanwell, Oxfordshire, from 1585, in the gift of Anthony Cope, also preaching at Banbury. Robert Cleaver, his co-author, was in a neighbouring parish, Drayton.[3][4]

Dod was ejected from his parish at Hanwell in 1607. From 1608 he was at Canons Ashby and then rector of Fawsley, where his patron was Richard Knightley.[5][6] A false accusation brought against him of having defrauded the college of a sum of money due from one of his pupils was the cause of a fever which almost cost him his life. During his illness he received strong religious impressions, and after his recovery, his character being fully cleared, he preached at a weekly lecture set up by some ‘godly’ people of Ely. When he was probably past thirty he was instituted to the living of Hanwell, Oxfordshire, where he remained for twenty years. While there he married Anne, sister of Dr. Nicholas Bownde, by whom he had twelve children. The John Dod, proctor of the University of Cambridge in 1615, was probably one of his sons, though it is suggested that he was Dod himself (Memorials). His second wife was a Mistress Chilton. At Hanwell he worked diligently, preaching twice each Sunday besides catechising and supplying, in conjunction with four others, a weekly lectureship at Banbury.[6]

In 1624 he was presented to the rectory of Fawsley in the same county, where he remained until his death. In the course of the civil war he is said to have been troubled by the royalist soldiers. He died at Fawsley, and was there buried on 19 August 1645.[6]


A Godly Form of Household Government, a leading conduct book for decades, developed from a 1598 pamphlet by his co-author Robert Cleaver. It took material from a sermon published in 1591, A Preparative for Marriage by Henry Smith.[7] Dod knew Henry Smith from Dry Drayton,[8] and he helped expand the work in its many later editions. It is based on the family as unit.[9]


  • A Godly Form of Householde Government (editions after 1598) with Robert Cleaver
  • A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Tenne Commandements[10]
  • Commentaries on Proverbs


He married first Anne Bownde, stepdaughter of Richard Greenham, daughter of the physician Robert Bownde, and sister of Nicholas Bownde the Sabbatarian. They had 12 children; he remarried after her death.[1]

John Wilkins was a grandson, and succeeded him at Fawsley in 1637.[11][12] Timothy Dod (d. 1665), an ejected minister in 1662, was a son.[13]


  1. ^ a b Decalogue Dod and his Seventeenth Century Bestseller
  2. ^ "Dod, John (DT572J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Felicity Heal, Clive Holmes, The Gentry in England and Wales, 1500-1700 (1994), p. 344.
  6. ^ a b c  "Dod, John". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  7. ^ Anthony Fletcher, The Protestant Idea of Marriage, in Anthony Fletcher, Peter Roberts (editors), Religion, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain: Essays in Honour of Patrick Collinson (2006), p. 63.
  8. ^ R. B. Jenkins, Henry Smith: England’s Silver-Tongued Preacher (1983), p. 15.
  9. ^ Leonard Tennenhouse, Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres (2005), p. 172.
  10. ^ Excerpt on the duties of husband and wife "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography, article on Timothy Dod.

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