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Antecedents

Dodgson's family was predominantly northern English, with Irish connections. Conservative and High Church Anglican, most of Dodgson's ancestors were army officers or Church of England clergymen. His great-grandfather, also Charles Dodgson, had risen through the ranks of the church to become a bishop. His grandfather, another Charles, had been an army captain, killed in action in 1803 during the Napoleonic Wars, when his two sons were hardly more than babies. His mother's name was Frances Jane Lutwidge.

The elder of these sons — yet another Charles — was Carroll's father. He reverted to the other family business and took holy orders. He went to Rugby School, and thence to Christ Church, Oxford. He was mathematically gifted and won a double first degree, which could have been the prelude to a brilliant academic career. Instead he married his first cousin in 1827 and became a country parson.

Young Charles' father was an active and highly conservative clergyman of the Anglican church who later became Archdeacon of Richmond and involved himself, sometimes influentially, in the intense religious disputes that were dividing the Anglican church. He was High Church, inclining to Anglo-Catholicism, an admirer of Newman and the Tractarian movement, and did his best to instill such views in his children. Young Charles was to develop an ambiguous relationship with his father's values and with the Anglican church as a whole.

Dodgson was born in the little parsonage of Daresbury near Warrington, Cheshire, the eldest boy but already the third child of the four-and-a-half-year-old marriage. Eight more children were to follow. When Charles was 11, his father was given the living of Croft-on-Tees in North Yorkshire, and the whole family moved to the spacious Rectory. This remained their home for the next twenty-five years.

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