Sir Thomas Bodley

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Bodley, Sir Thomas (1545–1613). Bodley, a benefactor to the University of Oxford, was born in Exeter. His family were protestants and took refuge in Germany and Switzerland during Mary's reign. Bodley was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and elected a fellow of Merton. About 1583 he became gentleman usher to the queen, probably through the patronage of Walsingham or Leicester. In 1584 he was returned to Parliament for Portsmouth and in 1586 for St Germans. Bodley was then employed on a number of diplomatic missions to Denmark, France, and Holland, returning to England in 1596. He was considered as a possible secretary of state but devoted the rest of his life to restoring the Duke Humphrey Library at Oxford. It was reopened in 1602, and named after Bodley in 1604, when he was knighted. James I visited the new library in 1605. Bodley is buried in Merton chapel, where there is a monument.

J. A. Cannon

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Sir Thomas Bodley, 1545–1613, English scholar and diplomat, organizer of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. He was a Greek scholar and teacher at Oxford, and in 1584 he was elected to Parliament. He spent 11 years (1585–96) abroad on diplomatic missions for Queen Elizabeth I. In 1598 his offer to restore Duke Humphrey's library was accepted by Oxford, and he spent the rest of his life and most of his fortune on it.

See his Letters to Thomas James, First Keeper of the Bodleian Library, ed. by G. W. Wheeler (1926).