The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended

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by Patrick Delany

The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended

Title page from The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Patrick Delany
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: C. Rivington
Date 1734
Edition First
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages viii, 180
Desc. 8vo (20 cm.)
Location Shelf A-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Patrick Delany (1685/6 – 1768), an Irishman, attended school at Trinity College in 1701 and was elected scholar in 1704.[1] After getting his Masters at Trinity in 1709, he began preparing for ordination.[2] By 1728, Delany had received the chancellorship for the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and later added St. Patrick's, the second-largest cathedral in Dublin.[3] In 1744, Delany accepted an appointment as the dean of Downs, where he tried to rectify the wickedness he saw among the people—gambling; excess eating, drinking, and dress; cheating; avarice; and pride.[4] Delany died at Bath, in England, at the age of 82, and was buried in Glasnevin graveyard in Ireland.[5]

Head piece, first page of text

The writer of many tracts and pamphlets, Delany composed The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended to explain his support of vegetarianism.[6] Delany examines several Bible verses beginning with the story of Noah’s Ark to justify his belief that abstinence from blood is clarified in the Bible.[7] Knowing his subject was unpopular, he even states in the preface that this pamphlet will go against many theological views, and that many scholars will disagree completely.[8]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

There is at least anecdotal evidence that George Wythe was a vegetarian: Parson Weems, in his posthumous memorial, "The Honest Lawyer," describes Wythe as being "altogether granivorous." Weems shared a dinner at the Wythe's home in Richmond where a meal of "rice milk," was served, "improved with plumbs, sugar and nutmeg! Choice fare for a Bramin, or an Old Bachelor."[9]

An existing copy of the 1734 edition sold to the Library of Congress by Thomas Jefferson in 1815 is "probably from the library of George Wythe [with] manuscript notes [which] appear to be in his hand."[10] However, Jefferson did not list the title in his inventory of Wythe's Library. Despite this, all four of the Wythe Collection sources (Goodwin's pamphlet[11] Dean's Bibliography[12], Brown's Bibliography[13] and George Wythe's Library[14] on LibraryThing) include the 1734 edition of The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Rebound in period style full calf.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

See also


  1. Alfred Webb, "Patrick Delany," Comprising Sketches of Distinguished Irishmen, Eminent Persons Connected with Ireland by Office or by Their Writings (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1878), Library Ireland website, accessed October 9, 2013.
  2. Toby Barnard, "Delany, Patrick (1685/6–1768)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed October 9, 2013.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Webb, "Patrick Delany."
  6. Patrick Delany, The Doctrine of Abstinence from Blood Defended. In Answer to Two Pamphlets, the One Called, The Question About Eating Blood Stated and Examined, &c. The Other Intitled, The Prohibition of Blood a Temporary Precept (London: C. Rivington, 1734).
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. M.L. Weems, "The Honest Lawyer, an Anecdote," The Times (Charleston, SC), July 1, 1806, 3.
  10. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:162 [no.1633].
  11. Mary R. M. Goodwin, The George Wythe House: Its Furniture and Furnishings (Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, 1958), LI.
  12. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 3 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  13. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  14. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on June 28, 2013.