A very small parish ten miles west from Bridgewater, and fourteen northwest from Taunton, containing thirteen houses and about fourscore inhabitants, the dwellings being so rare that most of them are thickly crowded with inhabitants. It is pleasantly situated in a woody level under the northern ridge of that lofty part of Quantock, which is called Dowsborough-Hill, from the ancient intrenchment of Dowsborough, or Danesborough-castle, overlooking a large tract of land, Bridgewater Bay, and the coast of Wales.
At the time of the Conquest this little village was a part of Alured de Ispania's manor of Stringston; which manor in the time of Henry II came into the possession of Adam de Cunteville; by his marriage with the daughter and heiress of Ranulph de Stringston, the owner and inhabitant of that township. This Adam, who had his surname from the seignory of Conteville in the Dutchy of Normandy, by his said wife had issue two sons William and Hugh, of whom William de Conteville, being by his father settled at Dodington, then written Dodeton, assumed that title, which continued in his descendants ever after.
William, eldest son of that William, married Agnes, daughter of Simon Portbrief, and was father of Roger de Dodeton, lord of the manor of Dodington 14 Edward I <1286>; contemporary with whom were Simon and Thomas, perhaps brothers. This Roger was succeeded by his son William, who died 35 Edward I <1307>, and left issue Philip, who died 18 Edward III <1345>; having for his heir and successor Thomas de Dodeton, who died before 36 Edward III <1363>, having married Maud, daughter and coheir of Stephen Laundey and Cecilia his wife, daughter and heir of Cecilia wife of Edward Burnel, Knight, and sister and coheir of Sir Thomas Trivet, of Durborough. By the said Maud he had issue another Thomas, who by his first wife Beatrice, daughter of John Buckler, was father of John Dodington, of Dodington; and by his second wife Joan, daughter and heir of Thomas Gapphey, of Gapphey in the parish of Meare, had Philip Dodington, ancestor to the Dodingtons of Gapphey, as also to Sir William Dodington, of Bremer in the county of Southampton, Knight in the time of Charles I <1625-1649>.
John Dodington, of Dodington, eldest son of Thomas abovementioned, married Mary, daughter of John Pain, and had issue another John, who was living 2 Richard III <1485>, and married Elizabeth daughter of Oliver Hywish, by whom he had Richard Dodington, of Dodington. When Richard married Margaret daughter and heir of John Lyte, and was father of John Dodington, of Dodington, Richard, and Giles.
John, the eldest son, was twice married; by his first wife Thomasine, daughter of Thomas Duland, he had issue George Dodington, who succeeded him in the estate of Dodington, and died in 1617; he married Catherine daughter of Robert Walsh, esq; by whom he had issue several children. John the eldest was of Dodington, and by Cahterine his wife was father of Sir Franced Dodington, Knight. Which Sir Francis 6 Charles I. was Sheriff of Somerset. On the breaking out of the civil wars, he was the first that executed the Kingís commission of array in this county; after which he joined himself to the Earl of Hertford, and served as a colonel in the western army with such zeal and fidelity, that he was by name excepted in the treaty of Uxbridge, and all other treaties that were afterwards entered into by the parliament with the King.
Upon the destruction of the royal party he fled into France, and there maintained himself several years by selling English knives and buckles; till at Jaif a French widow took compassion on him, and married him, and by her he had two sons, both bred up in the French army. His first wife was Anne daughter and heir of Sir William Hoby, and relative of John Sydenham, esq; by whom he had John his son and heir, who married Hester, daughter of Sir Peter Temple, bart. and died in 1663, in his fatherís life-time. After the Restoration, Sir Francis Dodington lived privately at Dodington; and though his estate had been greatly wasted by what he did in the civil war, yet he could never be prevailed upon to ask anything of the crown, having engaged himself (as he always declared) on a mere principle of conscience. John, his son above-mentioned, took another party, and was secretary to Thurlo, secretary of state to Oliver Cromwell. He was a learned and ingenious man, and translated several books from the French language, among which was the history of the administration of Cardinal Richlieu, which he dedicated to Thurlo. He left issue George, his only son, who succeeded Sir Francis Dodington his grandfather in the estate of Dodington. Which George, in the time of King William, was secretary to the Earl of Oxford, treasurer of the navy, and in the reigns of Queen Anne and Geo. I. was one of the lords commissioners of the admiralty. He died in 1720 without issue, leaving this his estate to George Bubb, esq; son of Mary his sister, and Jeremias Bubb, esq; who by act of parliament assumed the name and arms of Dodington. Which George was of Gunvil-Eastbury in the county of Dorset, where his uncle began a most magnificent building, and intended it for the future seat of his family. He was employed by Geo. .1. as his envoy and plenipotentiary in Spain, and was afterwards by the same King made one of the lords commissioners of the treasury, and represented the towns of Bridgwater, Weymouth and Melcomb-Regis, in parliament. In 1761 he was created baron of Melcomb Regis, and dying without issue the year following, the seat and estate of Eastbury, and the manor of Dodington, came by a family settlement to Richard earl Temple, who is the present possessor of the same.
The ancient arms of Dodington, as they were painted in the windows of the hall of the manor-house at Dodington, an ancient building near the church, and as they are carved over the church door, are, Sable, three bugle-horns argent; but Mr George Dodington changed them to Sable, a single bugle-horn argent.
The living of Dodington is a rectory in the deanery of Bridgwater. The advowson has always been Appendant to the manor; the Rev. John Scaly is the present incumbent. The church is a small building, composed of a nave, chancel, and chapel on the south side of the chancel, which was the burial-place of the Dodington family. At the west end is a tower containing four bells.
The births and burials in this little parish, on a seven years' reckoning at the three following periods, will shew the decrease of population that has taken place.
from 1538 thru 1544: 33 christenings, 9 burials
from 1652 thru 1658: 27 christenings, 13 burials
from 1776 thru 1782: 18 christenings, 4 burials