The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker: in Eight Books of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity

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by Richard Hooker

The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker

Title page from The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Richard Hooker
Editor John Gauden, with some corrections by John Strype
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed for John Walthoe, George Conyers, James Knapton, Robert Knoplock, J. and B. Sprint . . . [and 9 others]
Date 1723
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [4], lxxxviii, 518 [i.e. 520], [8]
Desc. Folio (40 cm.)
Location Shelf A-5
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Richard Hooker (1554 – 1600) began his education at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1569,[1] at a time when the Anglican Church was steeped in Calvinist thought.[2] Hooker received an interdisciplinary education, including classical philosophy and artistic disciplines alongside his primary studies in theology,[3] which would bear heavily upon his most significant scholarly endeavor—The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.[4] Writing this eight-volume opus necessitated resignation from his post as Master of the Temple Church in London in 1591.[5] The first five books were published during Hooker's lifetime. The last three, published posthumously, were not fully completed, and there is debate as to whether he was the sole author of these volumes.[6]

Frontispiece portrait of Richard Hooker.

The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity was Hooker’s response to a rift within Protestantism—between Hooker’s Anglicanism and English Puritans agitating for a reform of church government toward the Calvinist model,[7] characterized by an exclusive fidelity to scripture[8]—and also to what he saw as the Catholic Church’s theological error of elevating "tradition" to the same importance as scripture.[9] Hooker articulated a three-fold theory of ecclesiastical government that emphasized deference to scripture, followed by church tradition. Where those were inadequate, answers were to be sought in human reason.[10]

The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity has been lauded as the Enlightenment’s "...first glimmering...dawn,"[11] and profoundly influential upon “...(both directly and through Locke), American political philosophy in the late 1700’s."[12]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Hooker’s Ecclesiastical polity. fol. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. We do not have enough information to conclusively identify which edition Wythe owned. George Wythe's Library[13] on LibraryThing indicates this without naming a specific edition. The Brown Bibliography[14] lists the 1723 edition from London based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[15] The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased the London 1723 edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary Cambridge-style panelled calf, newly rebacked. Signed "F.H. Thornton, Oct. 1912" on the front free endpaper and includes the bookplate of Edward Thornton on the front pastedown. Purchased from Cobnar Books.

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. A. S. McGrade “Hooker, Richard (1554–1600),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed October 3, 2013.
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Richard Hooker," accessed October 3, 2013.
  3. A. S. McGrade, "Hooker, Richard (1554–1600)".
  4. James E. Kiefer, "Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past: Richard Hooker, Doctor of the Church," Society of Archbishop Justus, accessed October 3, 2013.
  5. A. S. McGrade, "Hooker, Richard (1554–1600)".
  6. Ibid.
  7. Kiefer, "Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past."
  8. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Richard Hooker."
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. A. S. McGrade, "Hooker, Richard (1554–1600)".
  12. Kiefer, "Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past."
  13. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 13, 2013.
  14. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  15. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 3:14-15 [no.2334].

External Links

Read this book in Google Books.