Remarks on the History of England: From the Minutes of Humphry Oldcastle

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by Henry St John, First Viscount Bolingbroke

Remarks on the History of England

Title page from Remarks on the History of England, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed for R. Francklin
Date 1743
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language {{{lang}}}
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages xv, 328, [6]
Desc. 8vo (20 cm.)
Location Shelf B-1
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Bookplate of W. Wynne, front pastedown.

Henry St. John, the first Viscount Bolingbroke, lived from September 16, 1678 to December 12, 1751. Bolingbroke had a tenuous career in English politics and government.[1] He served in Parliament for the Tory party and in government as Secretary at War and Secretary of State.[2] After the Whigs had a favorable election in 1715, and without support from the newly ascended King George I, Bolingbroke feared repercussions due to his involvement in peace negotiations with France and fled England.[3] Although Bolingbroke evaded arrest, an act of attainder found him guilty and, as a result, he lost the rights to his property and title.[4] In 1723, Bolingbroke received a pardon that allowed him to purchase new property in England.[5]

Still concerned with politics and determined to undermine King George’s chief minister, Robert Walpole, in 1730 and 1731 Bolingbroke wrote twenty-two essays for The Craftsman under the name Humphrey Oldcastle.[6] The Remarks on the History of England comprises these essays.[7] In this work, Bolingbroke provided examples “of royal favourites and corrupt ministers undermining the constitution by corrupt methods, financial jobbery, crown patronage, continental alliances, and military adventures. The reader was always meant to equate Walpole and his methods with those of previous evil counsellors who had threatened the true interests of the people.”[8] Bolingbroke’s works were designed to “to weld the disparate elements of the opposition to Walpole into a new Country Party, which would protect the independence of Parliament against the encroachments of a corrupt government.”[9]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as [Bolingbroke]’s Oldcastle’s remarks 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. Later appears on Randolph's 1832 estate inventory as "'Olecastle's remarks on H. of England' ($1.50 value)." We do not have enough information to conclusively identify which edition Wythe owned. George Wythe's Library[10] on LibraryThing indicates this, adding "Octavo editions were published at London in 1743, 1747, 1754, and 1776." The Brown Bibliography[11] lists the first edition published in 1743 and this is the edition purchased by the Wolf Law Library.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in full contemporary brown calf over cords, covers ruled in gilt. Includes the armorial bookplate of W. Wynne on the front pastedown, with the motto in Welsh, "NI BBYDD DOETH NA DDARILLENNO": "He will not be wise who will not read." Wynne is possibly William Wynne (1709 – 1760), Welsh Anglican priest and a poet. Purchased from D&D Galleries.

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.

See also


  1. H. T. Dickinson, "St John, Henry, styled first Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751) in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed October 2, 2013.
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s.v. "Henry Saint John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke," accessed October 2, 2013.
  3. Dickinson, "St John, Henry, styled first Viscount Bolingbroke."
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s.v. "Henry Saint John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke."
  10. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 18, 2013.
  11. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: