Institutes of Natural Law
by Thomas Rutherforth
Thomas Rutherforth (1712-1771) was an English moral philosopher, regius professor of divinity at Cambridge, and archdeacon of Essex. Rutherforth taught physical science privately at Cambridge and he had a strong interest in natural and moral philosophy. His lectures on the topic were ultimately published as the Institutes of Natural Law in two volumes in 1754 and 1756, respectively. The work "draws heavily on Grotius and considers morality chiefly in terms of its social consequences." "Institutes of Natural Law was a work widely read and cited among those of the founding generation" of the United States. In fact, the founders relied on the treatise while creating and ratifying the Constitution; the work was also used in early legal education in the United States and as authority in actual cases.
Rutherforth’s work brought him recognition and career advancement. He served as chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and later the princess dowager for a time. He married Charlotte Elizabeth Abdy whose father was Sir William Abdy, fourth baronet of Albyns, and became regius chair of divinity at Cambridge in 1756.
Author: Thomas Rutherforth, (1712-1771)
Title: Institutes of Natural Law: Being the Substance of a Course of Lectures on Grotius De Jure Belli et Pacis
Published: Cambridge: Printed by J. Bentham, printer to the University, for W. Thurlbourn, bookseller in Cambridge, 1754-1756.
Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library
Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy
Bound in contemporary calf; the Newton Hall set with the ownership signatures "Babington." Purchased from Meyer Boswell Books, Inc.
View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.
- William Holdsworth, A History of English Law (London: Methuen & Co., Sweet and Maxwell, 1938), 12:643.
- John Gascoigne, “Rutherforth, Thomas (1712–1771)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed October 21, 2013.
- Gary L. McDowell, “The Limits of Natural Law: Thomas Rutherforth and the American Legal Tradition”, The American Journal of Jurisprudence 37 (1992): 58, accessed Oct. 21, 2013.
- McDowell, “The Limits of Natural Law: Thomas Rutherforth and the American Legal Tradition,” 59-60.
- Gascoigne, John, “Rutherforth, Thomas.”