Bodley, Sir Josias (c.1550–1617), soldier and military engineer, was fifth and youngest son of John Bodley of Exeter, Devonshire, England, and his wife Joan, daughter and co-heiress of Robert Hone of Ottery St Mary, Devonshire. His family moved to Geneva during the reign of Mary Tudor and returned to England on the accession of Elizabeth I. Bodley attended Merton College, Oxford, but left without taking a degree. In 1581 he was in Danzig, Poland, attending to commercial interests. Some time afterwards, he commenced a military career and was with the earl of Leicester's army in the Netherlands in 1586.
In 1598 he came with his regiment to serve as a captain in the war in Ireland. He was stationed first at Newry, where he became governor, and later at the new fort of Mountnorris. During 1600 and 1601 he took part in skirmishes at Carlingford and Loghrorcan, and was commended by the lord deputy, Mountjoy (qv). In the autumn of 1601 he joined Mountjoy in Munster where he distinguished himself as trenchmaster and builder of siege forts in the successful siege of the Spanish force led by Don Juan del Águila (qv) in Kinsale, Co. Cork. Subsequently he participated in the sieges of Baltimore, Berehaven, and Castlehaven. It is likely that the army's decision to commemorate its victory by subscribing money to establish a library at TCD was suggested by Bodley, whose brother Thomas had recently founded the Bodleian library in Oxford. In 1601 he presented the Bodleian with a quadrant and a large armillary sphere supported by three lions.
Bodley was appointed governor of Armagh in 1602. It was from there that he made the new year visit to Sir Richard Moryson (qv), governor of Downpatrick, of which he left a memorable account in a light-hearted, macaronic essay entitled Descriptio (lepida) itineris ad Lecaliam. He was transferred with his company to the city of Waterford in 1603 and held the governorship of the fort of Duncannon from 1604 to 1606. He was knighted by Mountjoy in 1604. In these years, he also worked with Sir Arthur Chichester (qv) and the Dutch engineer Levan de Rose, selecting sites for citadels to command the cities and ports of Waterford, Cork, and Limerick, and took the plans to London, apparently to present them to James I, in 1605. He was instructed to proceed with the construction of the citadels of Waterford and Cork and other fortifications, but worked initially in Ulster on the completion of Mountjoy fort on Lough Neagh, Co. Tyrone. He went to London about April 1606 to press his claim for advancement and was appointed ‘superintendent of castles in Ireland’ in 1607. He returned to Ireland with instructions to superintend the fortifications at Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Kinsale and later claimed to have ridden over 700 miles in the next two years inspecting fortifications and garrisons in Munster and Ulster. His chief priority was to strengthen the coastal fortifications and he made repairs and improvements to Duncannon, Haulbowline, Elizabeth Fort (near Cork), Castle Park (at Kinsale), St Augustine's Fort (in Galway) and Limerick castle (1608–11). In 1609 he organized the survey of the six escheated counties of Ulster on which the plantation arrangements were based. Completed, according to his boast, in sixty-seven days, it proved to be seriously defective, consistently underestimating the acreages involved. He was recommended as a prospective grantee in the servitor class and his complaints about his exclusion may provide the background to the patent granted to him on 29 January 1613 appointing him director general and overseer of the fortifications and buildings in Ireland for life. The post combined his duties as superintendent of castles with those of overseer of the royal works. In the same year, he conducted a review of the progress of the plantations; in 1614 he prepared a report for the lord deputy on developments in the area assigned to the London Companies; in the summer of 1615, in the aftermath of the discovery of a rebellious conspiracy, he was required by the king to report on the state of Ulster and in 1616 he again conducted a full-scale investigation of the plantation which confirmed James's fears of its deficiencies but also prompted a more active compliance with the plantation conditions. In March 1617 Bodley surveyed 16,500 acres in Co. Wexford for a new plantation, more competently it seems, measuring with the chain rather than relying upon estimates. He died unmarried on 22 August 1617 and was buried in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin. His professional skill defies appraisal because his known work was largely confined to repairs and alterations. He was responsible for the ramparts around Coleraine and probably undertook private building works in the plantation counties, but the citadels at Waterford and Cork were never built.