John Dolben
Field: Priest; soldier; dean

Dr John Dolben was Dean of Westminster from 1662-83 but he has no monument at the Abbey as he was buried in York Minister, having been made Archbishop there in 1683. He was born on 20 March 1625, a son of Dr William Dolben, prebendary of Lincoln cathedral, and his wife Elizabeth (Williams). She was a niece of John Williams, former Dean of Westminster. Educated at Westminster School and Oxford university he fought for the King at the battle of Marston Moor and was wounded at the siege of York. In 1657 he married Catherine Sheldon, niece of Archbishop Sheldon. Their young daughter Catherine was buried in St Benedict's chapel in Westminster Abbey on 11 December 1671 but she has no marker. Their son was John (his daughter Catherine married Samuel Whitlocke (grandson of Sir Bulstrode Whitlocke) in the Abbey on 6 February 1703 and daughter Anne married Gilbert Affleck in the Abbey in 1705). Daughter Dorothy married Archdeacon Lodington and their daughter Blanche was married in the Abbey in 1680. Dr John was a prebendary at St Paul's cathedral, archdeacon of London, Lord High Almoner and vicar of St Giles, Cripplegate and in 1666 became Bishop of Rochester as well as Dean (these two appointments were joined until the early 19th century).Samuel Pepys, the diarist, visited him at the Deanery. Contemporaries described the Dean as "a lovely person though grown to fat, a lovely piercing eye and a majestic presence".

A photo of his portrait (attributed to Lely), which hangs in the Deanery at Westminster, can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

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