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Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge (1832-1898), author and mathematician

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Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge (1832-1898), author and mathematician
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Lewis Carroll

The following records-based biography of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – better known to millions around the world as Lewis Carroll - is based on an exhibition which was held at the former Family Records Centre.

Carroll found fame as the author of the Alice books and was one of the first English writers to produce books which were written with a genuine feeling for what children actually wanted to read. Less well known perhaps, is the 'other' Lewis Carroll, the mathematician, churchman, photographer and student of Christ Church College, Oxford, who was known to his friends and colleagues simply as Dodgson.


The birth of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was announced in The Times on 31 January 1832. The announcement read simply: On the 27th inst., at the Parsonage, Daresbury, Cheshire, the lady of the Rev. Charles Dodgson, of a son.

Six months later, Charles was baptised at Daresbury church, where his father was the 'Perpetual Curate'. Cheshire Record Office hold the record of baptism of Charles Lutwige Dodgson in the Daresbury parish registers under the reference MF66/3. The page in the register records eight baptisms, including, at the top of the page, the entry for 'Lewis Carroll'. Four of the baptisms recorded here were performed by Charles Dodgson senior although his own son was baptised by the Reverend George Heron. It’s interesting to note that two of the baptisms on the page were performed by the Reverend Thomas Vere Bayne, the father of Dodgson’s future friend and Christ Church colleague.

Charles Dodgson senior had married Frances Jane Lutwidge on 5 April 1827 at Christ Church, Sculcoates (Hull). The entry in the Sculcoates parish registers shows that there were no fewer than five witnesses to the marriage and all five were members of the extended Dodgson/Lutwidge family.

Ten children were born to Charles and Frances during the sixteen years that they remained at Daresbury (from 1827 to 1843). On the birth certificate of their seventh child and third son, Wilfred Longley Dodgson, the child's name is entered in Column 10 rather than in the normal place, indicating that the name was 'entered after registration'. The General Register Office reference for the birth certificate of Wilfred Longley Dodgson is 1938 September quarter – Runcorn district volume 19 page 195.

By the time of the 1841 census the family consisted of Charles senior, his wife Frances, their first eight children (including Charles aged 9) and an aunt, Lucy Lutwidge. Also in the household were three of the Reverend Dodgson's 'private pupils' and five servants. The 1841 Census of Newton by Daresbury Parsonage House is held under the reference HO 107/95/11 folio 2 page 22. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

This was the last time that Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll was listed with his family at census time. The family moved to Croft near Darlington and at the age of twelve Charles began his formal education at the nearby Richmond School. After spending three happy years at Richmond, Charles continued his education at Rugby School where he seems to have had an utterly miserable time.


On 23 May 1850, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson began what was to be a lifelong association with Christ Church College, Oxford. However, it wasn't until the following year that he took up residence at the College that was to be his home for the next forty-seven years. The first record we have of him at Christ Church is the 1851 census in which he is inaccurately entered in the middle of a long list of undergraduates as Charles L Dodson. The 1851 census of Christ Church College, Oxfordis held under the reference HO 107/1728 folio 157 page 68. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

On 22 December 1861, Charles was admitted into the Church of England as a deacon. The taking of holy orders had been a matter of some concern to him for many years and although the main issue was one of conscience and his own suitability, it is possible that the stammer, which he had suffered from since he was a small boy, also affected and delayed his decision. It is certainly interesting to note that less than eight months before he eventually became a clergyman, he was staying with his psellismologist (speech therapist) near Hastings. The 1861 census of Ore House near Hastings, Sussex is held under the reference RG 9/559 folio 85 page 23. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

The following year an event occurred which was to have a huge and significant effect on the life of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. On 4 July 1862, Charles went for a trip down the River Thames (or Isis). His companions on that momentous boat trip were his friend Robinson Duckworth and the three eldest daughters of Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church College. The girls were named Lorina (the oldest of the three), Edith (the youngest) and most important of all, Alice Liddell, aged 10. During the trip, Charles made up stories to entertain the girls and at the end of the day when he returned the children to the Deanery, Alice begged him to write down some of the stories for her. It was from this small seed that the story which was to become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland grew.

The Liddell family had moved into Christ Church Deanery in 1855. The census returns for 1871 show Charles Dodgson living in his rooms in Tom Quad, Christ Church while the very next entry shows the younger Liddell children. The rest of the family including Alice were staying with the Dean's father in Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire. The 1871 census return of Tom Quad, Christ Church College, Oxford is held under the reference RG10/1437 folio 35 page 46. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

Dodgson remained a bachelor all his life but he was very much a family man and was always keen to be at the centre of important family events such as weddings and christenings. The marriage certificate of his sister Mary Charlotte Dodgson to Charles Edward Stuart Collingwood in 1869 shows that Charles L Dodgson was one of the witnesses, as was R W S Lutwidge - better known to the family as Uncle Skeffington. Skeffington had also been a witness at his sister's wedding to Charles Dodgson senior over forty years earlier, but his main claim to fame in the Lewis Carroll story came in 1855 when he introduced his nephew to the art of photography. The marriage certificate of Mary Charlotte Dodgson is held by the General Register Office under the reference 1869 June quarter, Guildford district, volume 2a, page 69.

By this time, Charles Dodgson senior had died, and as the new head of the family, the responsibility of seeing that his sisters were properly provided for fell on Charles's shoulders. In 1868 he arranged for them to move into a large detached house in Guildford, known as 'The Chestnuts'.


Although Dodgson maintained his rooms at Christ Church College as his permanent residence right up until his death in 1898, in later years he started to spend an increasing amount of time at his sisters' house in Guildford as well as spending the summer months at seaside resorts such as Whitby, Sandown and Eastbourne. The 1881 census finds the Reverend C L Dodgson living at Christ Church College with his lifelong friend Thomas Vere Bayne listed in the entry immediately beneath him. The 1881 census of Christ Church College, Oxford. Is held under the reference RG 11/1501 folio 25 page 44. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

In 1891, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was once more living at Christ Church College - here we have another instance of an error in the returns as his name is entered as 'Charles L Dogson'. The 1891 census of Christ Church College, Oxford. Is held under the reference RG 12/1167 folio 22A page 39. To access the census returns from The National Archives webpages go to

It was during one of his frequent visits to 'The Chestnuts', his sisters' house in Guildford, that Dodgson died, quite suddenly and unexpectedly. His death certificate records the cause of death as 'influenza' with 'pneumonia' listed as a secondary cause. The informant, Charles Hassard Wilfrid Dodgson, was the nephew of the deceased, a son of his brother Wilfred Longley Dodgson. The death certificate of Charles Lutwige Dodgson is held by the General Register Office under the reference 1898 March quarter, Guildford district, volume 2a, page 63

Dodgson's will was written in 1871. It is very short and contains relatively little genealogical information but it's interesting to note that his good friend, Thomas Vere Bayne, was one of the witnesses. The will contains not one single reference to the fact that the Reverend Dodgson was in fact the children's author Lewis Carroll. The will of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is held by the Principal Registry of the Family Division, reference: Probate, 13 May 1898, Principal Registry

Carroll/Dodgson is buried in a simple grave in the Mount Cemetery, Guildford. The family continued to live at 'The Chestnuts' for another thirty years and the 1901 census shows six of his sisters living there, including the now widowed Mary Charlotte Collingwood. Mary's son, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood became Lewis Carroll's first biographer.