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Page last updated 05 June 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss


June 2015 -  Walter Dotyn, 1603/4, Oxford, St Micheal


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The Dotyn or Dottin family of Devon was well-accustomed to send some of its members to be educated at Exeter Hall (Exeter College from 1566), Oxford. John Dotin, awarded his BA in 1524, and MA in 1529, was a fellow 1528-39 and rector of the college 1537-9. He was also vicar of Bampton 1534-58 and took further medical degrees, bachelor in 1541-2 and doctor in 1559. He became the incumbent of various West Country livings, latterly of Kingsdon, Somerset, where he died in 1561 and was commemorated by a brass which is now lost. He was best remembered as an astrologer. In 1558 he was succeeded as vicar of Bampton by Henry Dottin, fellow of Exeter College 1554-60, who died in 1595. Giles Dottyn matriculated at Exeter College aged 19 in late 1587 and is unrecorded thereafter. Two other members of the family died before they could progress from Oxford: John Dottyn of Devon matriculated in 1582-3 aged 18 and was a fellow 1584, dying in 1586, and the subject of this month's entry, Walter, the son of a Devon merchant, perhaps Richard Dotyn of Totnes. Walter matriculated on 17 October 1600 aged 16, was a fellow from 1601 until his death at the age of 20 on 20 February 1603/4. Quite why Walter was buried in the parish church of St Michael rather than in the original fourteenth-century chapel of his college is unclear. The chapel was rebuilt in 1624 and again in 1855 and contains no monuments earlier than the 1624 rebuilding so perhaps it was lucky that Walter's monument was not placed there.

    Walter is thought to have been a victim of the plague, which was raging in Oxford at the time of his death. His monument is unusual in that it has much the same design as contemporary brasses but is executed in alabaster instead. A few similar monuments survive and are the products of workshops in Southwark run by Netherlandish immigrants whose work came to dominate the monumental trade in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century England.

    The inscription reads:

In obitum Doctissimi Religiosissimique

Juvenis Gualteri Dotyn Collegij

Exoniensis Scholaris

Et Socij

Qui legis haec luge quia sunt lugenda legenda

En calcas Musæ quod coluere caput

Hoc quod habes habuit quos habet cito forsã habebis

Vivendo hinc discas non moriendo mori

Obijt xxmo die Februarij

Anno Domini 1603

Ætatis suæ xxti

This has been translated as:

On the death of Walter Dotyn, scholar and fellow of Exeter College, a young man of great learning and piety.

Mourn thosu that readest this: for it is a mournful tale that thou must read. Lo! thou treadest on a head that the muses loved; he had this which thou hast; what he has perchance thou soon wilt have. Learn from him to die not by dying but by living.

He died on the 20th day of February in the year of Our Lord 1603. His age 20.

    Whether there was originally a surround is unclear. Perhaps it is just the equivalent of a mural brass in a plain stone.