Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Locke Unlocked.

LOCKE UNLOCKED: JOHN LOCKE - SCHOLAR, EXPERIMENTER, THINKER, WRITER, TEACHER, TRAVELLER, PHYSICIAN, AND UNLIKELY REVOLUTIONARY.

A Pensford Perspective by Tim Veater. (Part 1)

An overview of the life and works of John Locke and it's application to current issues of Government. (In Parts)

Preface.

This piece does not purport to be a scholarly work. Rather it attempts to cast a familiar story in a new light, highlighting the part Locke's early life and physical environment played in the making of the man and his ideas that were to have such an important impact on a world that was come after his death and of which he could have no idea. In the process it is hoped it might get a relatively small area of North Somerset, familiar to the writer, its “fifteen minutes of fame” and its most illustrious son, John Locke, his rightful place in its local history. 

This is the first of several discursive pieces first published on the 'Inquiring Minds' site, which has closed with the regrettable demise of its editor Malcolm Treacher on the 21st August, 2015, who in his way, continued many of Locke's principles of 'presenting truth unto power' and to whom I should like to dedicate this edited (and hopefully corrected) version.  

I have referred to a number of sources, principally the well-known biographies by Maurice Cranston and Roger Woolhouse. Others will be listed as a bibliography with the final part at a later date. The illustrations have been taken from public Internet sources, which will also be acknowledged in the final part. 

If despite my best efforts and in the interests of readability, any errors have crept in or I have offended anyone, I apologise in advance and request forgiveness. The substance is all the work of others; the errors all my own.

1. Introduction.



 

John Locke, FRS (1632 – 1704), the seventeenth Century philosopher, is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential thinkers in the English-speaking world. Building on the approach of others, such as Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) and the Frenchman Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650), he asserted the primacy of reason in matters of natural philosophy, religion, politics and man himself. As such he is considered to be one of the first of the British “empiricists”. 

In turn he influenced later thinkers including Voltaire (1694 – 1778) , Rousseau (1712 – 1778) , David Hume (1711 – 1776) and Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) amongst others. 

He also had a direct impact on British and American political development, specifically the British “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 and the American Revolution of 1776. Many of his ideas were pillars of both the United States Declaration of Independence and first Constitution.

To this liberal philosophy, was added his consideration of the mind, holding that all children were born as it were with a blank slate ("Tabula Rasa") and were shaped by environmental forces, to become what they were as adults, emphasising perception and experience. 

In consequence, in both the political and religious spheres, whilst maintaining an outwardly very conservative stance, he challenged some deeply embedded philosophical ideas such as original sin, predestination, divine right of kings to govern, the duty of the subject to obey, and even the nature of the Christian God itself! In a wider sense he contributed to the “Enlightenment”, from which sprang later scientific discovery and democratic principles of government. 

He wrote and was published, always anonymously, in the latter quarter of the 17th Century, and it was only a good deal later and largely after his death in 1703 that their importance was fully recognised and his name attached to them.

He was in a way one of what we might regard as one of the last old-style polymaths, interested in, and by the standards of the time, expert in, a range of spheres of human knowledge and endeavour, there being then no great divide between the arts and sciences or between religious or secular views of the world. Most of the intellectual debate centred on differences in religious interpretation of the Bible and how this should apply to practical living and government.

It is hard now to appreciate the revolutionary nature of Locke's thinking and argument the effect of which was to challenge both temporal and spiritual perceptions and man's place in them. We have to realise that the metaphysical world of the Elizabethan was a very real one, filled with angels of light, dark spirits and the physical reality of a Divine being and eternal damnation or bliss experienced by the human soul. 

We should resist the temptation to be historically superior about this as we are daily reminded these attitudes and beliefs persist in millions of people about the world. However Locke with a few others, was one of the first to subject knowledge to a new 'empirical' approach subjecting everything to examination and challenge, using reason alone. The Frenchman Rene Descarte famously coined the phrase 'Cogito ergo sum' (I think therefore I am) as his starting point, and Locke who was greatly influenced by him, took up his Socratic method.

So in the time time between Locke's grandfather's arrival in Pensford in the late 16th Century and Locke's death at the beginning of the 18th, a great transformation, revolution in fact, had taken place, though not generally recognised by the general population, first and foremost concerned with the details of their daily lives.

Locke's life was dominated by the turbulent events of the time, first Civil War and Interregnum that established in the political sphere the primacy of Parliament over the Crown and then another political crisis in which he was intimately involved, termed the 'Glorious Revolution', that set in stone a Protestant succession and limits on the Monarch's powers.

So Locke's ideas were born out of revolution. Little did he know the impact on further, arguably greater ones, for his ideas figured large in the writings of people like Voltaire and Thomas Paine that fired the political upheavals in the British American colonies and Republican France.

The illustration below represents a time when Locke's grandfather arrived in Pensford in the latter part of the sixteenth century and perhaps slightly more obliquely a world view that was transformed by Locke and his generation. John Dee (1527 - 1608/9) influential advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, is emblematic of the old school of thinker and of the great divide between him and Locke. He was (in the words of the WIKI entry) "a mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, imperialist who devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy,divination and Hermetic philosophy and in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels and demons in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind"! Even though superstition still reigned in the 18th Century, as indeed it still does today in certain quarters, Locke had indeed ushered in a new and rational enlightenment that was to have unlimited consequences for mankind.

John Dee and Queen Elizabeth I


Locke Remembered and Relevant?

Not everyone will be familiar with Locke or his writings, even though they have had a huge and lasting influence on our lives. Philosophers, past or present, get scant regard from current society. Locke's memorials are few and scattered. Apart from his printed works and biographies, they are limited to a few busts, plaques and portraits in inaccessible locations. There is a bust and plaque in Wrington Church, an epitaph at High Laver, Essex and a memorial stone in the floor of Christ Church, Oxford. As far as I am aware, there was until recently, no memorial in his Pensford home. One of the lights in the Millennium Window in Publow Church now commemorates his life. It reminds me of the biblical saying: “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country”.

The Wrington House where he was born (now demolished)



And the bust of him that remains in the porch of Wrington Church, Somerset.



Tomb at High Laver, Essex.



Plaque at Christ Church, Oxford


However, his reasoning has never been more relevant to modern issues and controversies. The current debate on the relationship between citizen and government, in an age of over-arching power to monitor and control, has been awoken from its slumbers by the activities of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and others. 

There is a growing awareness of how by stealth and the pretext of danger, Western Governments and Corporations have extended their remit to pry into the lives of ordinary people, and increased their legal powers to intervene and control, with little to stop them doing so. As Noam Chomsky wrote recently to the American web site“Counter Punch”:

It is, regrettably, no exaggeration to say that we are living in an era of irrationality, deception, confusion, anger, and unfocused fear — an ominous combination, with few precedents. There has never been a time when it was so important to have a voice of sanity, insight, understanding of what is happening in the world.” 

Revolutionary Times.

The period Locke lived through was not without its momentous events, bloody conflicts and political developments, as ideas clashed with ideas and cohort with opposing cohort. He later recorded: “I no sooner perceived myself in the world but I found myself in a storm, which has lasted almost hitherto.” (1660)

King against Parliament. Town against Country. Merchant against Aristocracy. Levellers versus those that believed in hierarchy. Rich against poor. Tolerance versus Conformity. Superstition versus Reason. Protestant against Catholic. Anglican versus Non-conformist. Puritan versus Quaker and Shaker. “Whig” versus “Tory”. Stuart line versus House of Orange replacement.

An indication of the parlous state of the County of Somerset caused by civil war (no doubt replicated throughout the country) is illustrated in this passage from the Somerset Rolls. Note how certain individuals disadvantaged by Royal troop actions directed at one of Popham's principal estates in Wellington, Somerset were ordered to be compensated by magistrates, of which Popham was one, representing the now victorious Parliamentary faction.

"At the first meeting of the Taunton Sessions held in 1652 the Justices found themselves confronted with a two-fold difficulty. On the one hand the ordinary county expenses were much increased. The roads and bridges had been let down or destroyed by military operations and lack of proper supervision. The gaol and the three Houses of Correction were in more than their usual state of dilapidation ; and the same remark applies to the different hospitals or alms- houses which used to be helped from the hospital money fund. Maimed soldiers, and the widows and orphans, abounded on every side. 

In addition heavy levies were demanded for paying off the debts incurred by the State and providing the armies to be raised for Scotland and Ireland. On the other hand, the paying power of the County was much diminished. Few districts can have seen more of hostile armies, and the flocks and herds of the countryside had been consumed. Without oxen the land could not be cultivated, and the farmers could pay neither rents nor rates.  Even when rents, or a portion, were forthcoming, the royalist landowner had to send them to London to discharge the fines levied for his malignancy. 

For some years the financial difficulty was always present and acute. Sir John Berkeley, afterwards Lord Berkeley of Stratton, who in a few days put the business in very good order, and by storm took Wellington House early in the month of April. (Clarendon, Book IX.) Some of the townspeople had placed their goods in the house for safety. A certificate was given by Richard Bovett and Alexander Popham on the 1 9th October, 1650, that Anne Martyn of Wellington, widow, suffered loss of cattle and household goods to the value of 175/2". besides 22/2. in money and the loss of her eldest son, they all being in the house of the Honorable Alexander Popham at the siege thereof by the late king's forces. (S.R., 82, i, 14.) At Taunton, 1655, she was allowed ten shillings for the present, and at Taunton, 1556, twenty shillings for the present. 

Mary (Maud) Cape petitioned at Bridgwater, 1646, for maintenance for herself and children, as her husband had been slain at Wellington House in the State's service (p. 5). Eventually the parish of Wellington was ordered to pay her a weekly allowance of one shilling ; and she continued to petition and to receive small sums for several years. At the Wells Sessions, 1647-8, the widow Hickman of Wellington, whose husband was slain in the Parliament service, was allowed twenty shillings for present relief and to take her home again (p. 53)."

Sir John Berkeley, afterwards Lord Berkeley of Stratton, who in a few days put the business in very good order, and by storm took Wellington House early in the month of April. (Clarendon, Book IX.) Some of the townspeople had placed their goods in the house for safety. A certificate was given by Richard Bovett and Alexander Popham on the 1 9th October, 1650, that Anne Martyn of Wellington, widow, suffered loss of cattle and household goods to the value of 175/2". besides 22/2. in money and the loss of her eldest son, they all being in the house of the Honorable Alexander Popham at the siege thereof by the late king's forces. (S.R., 82, i, 14.) At Taunton, 1655, she was allowed ten shillings for the present, and at Taunton, 1556, twenty shillings for the present. "


http://archive.org/stream/somersetpub28someuoft/somersetpub28someuoft_djvu.txt 


Religion and the role of the King which were inextricably linked, were dominant themes. On the one hand, the belief all executive power resided in the Monarch who obtained such authority from the Creator itself; on the other, that power resided ultimately in the people. It, and the power to tax without Parliamentary consent, was at the root of the civil war that lasted, on and off, for most of the 1640's - until King Charles I lost his head on a bitterly cold January morning in 1649. 

Regicide – a crime so unthinkable, the crowd let out, what an observer described as, “a moan as he had never heard before and desired he might never hear again". Handkerchiefs were dipped in the king's blood as a memento and such “revered” artifacts survive to this day. It is even possible that Locke and the other Westminster scholars, despite the efforts of the Headmaster, heard the groan!

The execution of King Charles I, after Unknown artist, circa 1649 - NPG D1306 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Locke's life also spanned an absolutely pivotal period in human exploration, colonisation and experimentation. It effectively marks the start of science as we know it, which progressively affected humanity's world view. From being central to the divine creation and plan, both literally and metaphorically, the role God played was gradually pushed back by discoveries through microscope and telescope, by observation, measurement, experiment and exploration. Having created the “clock”, God was likened to the Clock Maker. 


The Royal Society, the world's first truly scientific body, and to which Locke was elected in ...., is currently celebrating the 350th anniversary of Robert Hooke's Micrographia, the first to reveal, by use of the newly invented 'microscope' the secret and fantastic world of the very small. It represents the other extreme of Galileo's exploration of the very large and distant.

The Bible account was being tentatively challenged. From the fundamentalist literal view of the Bible, Locke moved inexorably towards a nuanced and deist interpretation by virtue of his own reasoning, whilst still retaining an evangelical view of Jesus as redemptive Christ and Saviour. Reason versus Faith or conversely Reason supportive of Faith, resulted in a public debate with clerical opposition in his later years.

In Italy in 1642, when Locke was ten, in far-off Italy, Galileo Galilei, who had been forced by the Catholic Church's Inquisition to recant his assertion that the sun, not the earth, was at the centre of the solar system, died. In the very same year, the great Isaac Newton was born. These two historical figures mark a huge transformation from the old to the new, what may be described as a scientific and religious revolution.


The first truly scientific society – the English Royal Society, still of course in existence - was founded in 1660, composed of some of the most enquiring minds of the day. Among the original Fellows were Christopher Wren, John Evelyn, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke. Some later notables were John Flamsteed, Edmond Halley and Hans Sloane. John Locke was to be elected to Fellowship in 1668 and moved in these circles. Whilst on Somerset trips in the mid-1660's, Locke contributed directly to Boyle's experiments on pressure, working out of Strachey's Sutton Court to local high points on Clutton Hill, and he was an assiduous collector of meteorological information, taking rain and other weather readings every day for the greater part of his life. This was the new scientific approach in action that was to be replicated by many others subsequently.

He was interested in all things human and all things scientific, what was then referred to as Natural Philosophy. He was well versed in the Classics, could speak at least seven languages and was fascinated with archaeological remains as with the pre-historic Stanton Drew Stone Circle close to his home that he described and discussed with John Evelyn. He was a respected lecturer and tutor in Latin and Greek, a trusted surgeon and physician, a confidant and adviser to political activists at the highest level. Described by a friend as a “man with a versatile mind” and today recognised as an early polymath when knowing “something about everything” was still a possibility.

Robert Hooke's Microscopic Flea and Isaac Newton's Telescope.


Galileo's Telescope 1610 (Source: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/images/I012/10315150.aspx)

Galileo's telescope, 1610.




But Locke is chiefly remembered for his philosophical writings on economics, government and education at a time of great political upheaval and growth in trade, commerce, technical innovation and global expansion east and west. In all of these Locke had a prominent and direct involvement. Furthermore it now appears that the writings for which he famous published in or about 1690, were in fact drafted in the early 1660's which equates to an extended stay in Somerset when his father was ill. So it it is not altogether fanciful that Locke's influential ideas were conceived in Pensford air and writings with a quill dipped in Pensford ink!

A full bibliography of his works can be found here:http://www.libraries.psu.edu/tas/locke/bib/ch0.html We hope to discuss them more fully later.

A Pensford Perspective

I have always felt a special affinity with, and respect for, John Locke. Not because I compare myself intellectually of course, but simply because his character, writings, and positive influence on history are so impressive and because though separated by three hundred years, there were elements of commonality between his formative years and my own. Not least that he spent them in the same village, and was subject to a not dissimilar religious background. 

Incredibly, the local schools I attended, at no time pointed out the link Locke had with the area or his international status and impact. I had to discover it for myself and despite the fact he now has a somewhat higher profile locally, he still lacks an appropriate and tangible memorial.

Daily, on the school bus run, we slowed to negotiate the narrows, bordered by high limestone walls, behind which were set two large and distinguished houses - to me, always a touch mysterious and unapproachable. 

Little did I realise in one of these locations the great John Locke grew up and later inherited an estate that surrounded it. That he had been familiar with the same woods and fields, the same buildings and landscape, swam and fished in the same river and walked the same winding lanes, creates a ephemeral but tangible emotional link. Both my grandfathers owned freeholds that had belonged to Locke centuries before, as do I!

A Somerset Home.

Wrington






















All the biographies observe John Locke's birthplace as Wrington, Somerset in 1632. It is true but also somewhat misleading, in that it tends to suggest the Wrington house (illustrated below) was his family home and childhood environment. It wasn't. It was his mother's grandparent's home, a very modest affair at the north entrance to the majestic parish church of All Saints. (It is one of those little coincidences that Publow Church closely linked to the Locke/Popham estates is also “All Saints”) He was there just long enough to be baptised by the local puritan and non-conformist Rector, Dr Crook, after which he returned home to Pensford, where he spent the next fifteen years, maintaining links until he died.

Loke's birthplace. Compare and contrast with photo above.


Belluton

Locke's family home was some ten miles or so to the east, in a small hamlet called Belluton, mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, just outside the market town of Pensford and five miles south of the important commercial city of Bristol.

Facsimile of the Doomsday Entry


The hamlet of Belluton consists today of two substantial 18th and 19th Century houses, probably on the site of earlier ones, two significant farm houses with outbuildings and numerous smaller houses and cottages and the attached enclosed fields one of which is still called “Locke's Cottage”.


The View from above Locke's house today


The house sits on elevated ground falling away to the south and the River Chew, with fine views to the Mendip Hills beyond. Behind and to the north the land rises to a limestone promontory, on which there is an Iron Age fort known as 'Maes Knoll', complete with burial mound and earth works. So in a way the situation of the house replicated the social status of the family that lived in it – neither too high nor too low.

In the post-Roman period, when Britain was a patchwork semi-kingdoms, Maes Knoll formed part of a quite incredible defensive earth work that ran from the Bristol Channel to Salisbury called the 'Wansdyke'. This virtually formed the north-easterly boundary of the Locke land.

Ordnance Survey Map of Maes Knoll and part of the Wansdyke



Pensford

Arthur Mee the travel writer, described Pensford in the 1930's as follows:



“It has a character, and a good one; could any tiny place be more crowded with quaint loveliness? Perhaps we found it at its best, for it was a glorious spring day and the Aubrietia was creeping down the stone walls through which the river runs, ten feet down from the cottage gardens to the water, and it is all bridges- three little stone ones and a colossal viaduct dwarfing the village, the tower, the roofs and everything with its 16 great arches carrying the trains 100 feet up in the air. A perfect miniature is the little domed lock-up looking down the street. Wandsdyke which runs close by is hardly noticed.”

“The 14th century church is nearly moated with the little river; in its long history the nave has been flooded four feet deep. It has a 15th century font with quatrefoils and roses; a Jacobean pulpit of which every inch is carved with swaures and circles and leaves, and in the tower we found an odd little man most certainly winking, though winking at nothing we could see.

“In this small place there lived two people whose son was to join our immortals, father and mother of our philosopher John Locke.”

It appears it had always been so regarded, because in 1542 Henry VIII's roving inquisitor, Leland described it as ‘a “praty” (pretty?) townlet much occupied in clothiage, with a market and a stream which flows down to it and drives several fulling mills’.


Pensford Today


Belluton, as can be seen from the Ordnance Survey map below, is situated just to the north of Pensford, which in Locke's time was a small town, somewhat in decline. Two or three hundred years previously, it had been one of the most important Somerset centres for the production of high quality 'broad-cloths', with Royal Charters for a weekly market and twice annual fairs and ancillary industry utilising the water power provided by the River Chew and surface coal mining in local fields. 

Pensford is not mentioned in Doomsday and was not even a unit of taxation in 1327 or 1334. It never became a parish in its own right, although the Church of St Thomas a Beckett – a Chapel of Ease of the Parish Church at Stanton Drew - has recently been shown to have been in existence as early as 1320. Belluton referred to above and most of the Locke estate, was situated up until the 19th Century in the parish of Stanton Drew, when it was incorporated into an enlarged one of Publow which included the Pensford settlement. 

The anomaly of a divided town between ecclesiastical and civil parishes resulted from predating topography using the River Chew as the natural dividing line between the two halves. This may well have had a detrimental effect on the development of self-governance for the town, as happened in so many other commercial towns in the post Norman period. Typically, if the inhabitants were prosperous and trade flourishing, the market and fair charters would be complimented by borough status and an element of self governance with Mayor, Aldermen and other official looking after things corporate. 

This did not happen in Pensford, and although having the markets and fairs, these were governed and controlled by either Church or Manorial Lords, of which the Pophams and Lockes were 17th Century examples.

The later medieval period had seen the town at the zenith of its prosperity. In 1395/6, it was the largest cloth market in the county, registering a fifth of the county’s cloth and more was produced in Somersetshire than any other! The Charters had been obtained by the monks of Keynsham Abbey, which later fell foul of Henry VIII and his over-zealous Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell and then passed to the Lords of the Manor. 

From that time, with the cloth industry moving north and competition from abroad it was a story of steady decline. Even so its track record in cloth was probably the reason Locke's grandfather grand father, Nicholas a wealthy cloth merchant, had relocated to Pensford from Dorset late in the reign of Elizabeth I. Maybe having made his money in cloth he decided to reinvest it in land where cloth had been a major industry and skills still existed, should it revive. Who knows?

Ordnance Survey Map of Pensford, Somerset.



So it may be said that although the medieval Pensford was an important Somerset town with market, fairs and manufacturers, it never achieved corporate status by charter as was commonly the case. It always therefore remained in state of division and essentially feudal, subject to powers civil, ecclesiastic and merchandising. 'Brown of London' was said to control much of the manufacture of cloth in the 16th Century.

Publow

The town of Pensford was divided between two ecclesiastical and civil parishes roughly demarcated by the River Chew and “Salter's Brook”. To the west Stanton Drew and to the east Publow. Land ownership and proprietorial rights are complicated but roughly followed a similar geographical division. All land was vested in the King but could be held in various capacities by his subjects from “freehold” through”leasehold” to various states of rental occupation. Lords of the Manor roughly followed the civil parishes. That of Publow was vested in Col Alexander Popham and leased to the Lockes, probably in recognition of John Locke Senior's support for him in the Civil War. (It was in Publow Church in 1642 John Locke stood during Divine Service to declare for the Parliamentary Side which must have caused quite a stir.) Popham was based in Wiltshire but had estates elsewhere including Publow and Wellington, near Taunton and was a Justice of the Peace, of which more later. Locke's father was Clerk and Steward for him.





Stanton Drew

Stanton Drew's 15th Century Bridge


To the west, was located the Bronze Age Stanton Drew Stone Circles, the purpose and significance of which, by the time of Locke, had been lost in antiquity. Whether social, political, religious or astronomical, and probably something of each - it remains an impressive memorial to a lost civilisation, replicated at Avebury, Stonehenge and numerous locations throughout the western British Isles and France. Recent excavation and geological mapping have indicated a much more ancient and complicated history of multiple wood henge illustrated below, of which Locke was unaware of course.


The Stanton Drew Stone Circle and recently discovered Post Holes.


He would however, been very much aware of local interpretations and superstitious legends attached to them such as the familiar story of the dancers turned to stone for disregarding the Sabbath, which must have conveyed mixed emotions to Locke himself. 

The question of tolerance and the right of the Church to impose behavioural restrictions on the one day free of work was a burning question nationally and locally in the 17th Century. Puritan Rector Crook in Wrington had actually engaged in litigation to stop Sunday games which required the direct intervention of the King no less, to annul. It was a confrontation in miniature of a national debate, akin to what we see in Muslim states today. In England in the 1660's, over a decade of Christian fundamentalism was placed in abeyance by popular demand by the Restoration although Puritanism and other off shoots such as Congregationalists, Unitarians, Baptists and Quakers continued to flourish, all well represented in the region.

The Sunday Revellers “turned to stone”.


As part of a 16th Century scientific awakening, these sites were provoking a systematic archaeological investigation and theorising, which Locke, having them on his very doorstep, engaged. Correspondence survives between him and John Aubry, an early antiquarian. Can there be any doubt that surrounded by these ancient features, Locke's imagination and curiosity must have been cultivated?


The Family Home

As regards the family home, it was much superior to the Wrington cottage, in which he saw the light of day. It was probably a Tudor Farmhouse, neither grand nor modest. It had been purchased by his grandfather Nicholas and handed on to his father, John senior. It consisted of a parlour, hall, study, kitchen, buttery, three (bed) chambers and outside, stables, all with furniture and fittings. Perhaps, the most significant item in the the still extant inventory, is reference to a library containing books to the value of £5:14:0. This when a stool was valued at 6d and even an exclusive clock was valued at £2:0:0 indicates the family's attitude to reading and education. This was no working class household then, and it is clear from the first, Locke was brought up in a bookish, puritanical and politically aware household.

Belluton House today – probably the location of Locke's House


His was a fairly prosperous, low-church, family of which he was the third generation that had made it's money, like so many others, from the clothing trade and latterly from land and employed occupation. His father was an attorney, JP's Clerk and steward for the local Lord of the Manor and for fledgling local government.

Locke had a brewer uncle in Bristol, five miles distant, a cosmopolitan and maritime port and city with strong links to the West Indies and the triangular slave trade; coal mines on his father's land; a fascinating topographical and historic environment; direct connections with both local and national events; a serious Puritanical world view. All these things contributed to shaping Locke's early character.

So Locke was not, and never became a member of the aristocracy, but in a rural community, he decidedly was not one of the labouring classes and occupied a privileged and elevated status carved out by his father and grandfather. It is fair to assume he was treated with a fair degree of respect and circumspection locally by virtue of his father's role as landlord, Justices Clerk and agent for the Popham Lords of the Manor, but this was not so impressive a background when he found himself walking in the corridors of power, where he would be treated very much the educated commoner.

That is not to say his family was completely lacking in the sort of status and breeding that might impress the class conscious Jacobean. He was able to trace his lineage to Sir William Locke, mercer to Henry VIII, alderman and sheriff of London in 1548. Locke was therefore fortunate in possessing a good springboard from which to jump and could be proud of his ancestral line, confirmed by the fact that he adopted Sir William's arms for his own seal. Such distinctions, then as now, could be of critical importance to an individual's social advance.

It was in Pensford that Locke remained, until his fifteenth year, when he experienced a huge change in his life circumstances when he was dispatched to London for schooling. He returned periodically thereafter and may even have drafted some of his later works in the Belluton home whilst waiting for the fetid political atmosphere to cool with the death of Oliver Cromwell and return of Charles II. His views on the infallibility of the monarch, the need for religious toleration and separation from civil government, the continuing dangers of Catholicism and principles of democratic accountability, were probably beginning to be formed at this time. On the death of his father in February 1663 at only fifty- seven, Locke inherited the estate of property and land, delayed for four years to pay off debts accrued, providing a moderate income of around fifty pounds, for the rest of his life.

A scholarly discussion and description of Locke's 17th Century property portfolio by Roger Woolhouse, a recent biographer is available on the web at:

For someone like myself, growing up in the immediate vicinity, it of course holds a particular fascination. A map (by kind permission of the Ordnance Survey) indicates the extent of Locke's portfolio. Belluton house is unfortunately just out of view immediately north of Pensford village. The Locke estate, either held freehold or on a 99 year lease from Alexander Popham, extends to about eighty acres east and west, north and south, of the Pensford settlement in recent times approximating to the farms of Guys, Grange and Belluton Farms although recent land sales have changed this.

Friends and Family

For the times, the Locke family was small. His mother Agnes (nee Keene) was actually nine years older than his father, and gave birth to only three children, one of which did not survive. 

Both John and his younger brother by five years, Thomas, were rather delicate. Thomas followed him to Westminster School, but did not excel and succumbed to probably plague when still only 26. In fact both father and brother died in the same year, 1663, when Locke was thirty-one. His mother Agnes had already passed away in 1654 so at thirty-one, Locke remained the only survivor, bereft of paternal, maternal or sibling advice or support and suffering from asthma type symptoms. One of his uncles, Peter, provided indispensable help looking after the estate when John was living and working away.

Now as to the first fourteen years of Locke's life in Pensford, (photo below) his character, activities and acquaintances, we have relatively sparse information. To a certain extent we have to fill the gaps with reasonable supposition. So we get a picture of a small family unit with rather stern and distant puritan parents taking their religion and politics seriously. Father busy and cerebral effectively fulfilling the role of a local authority, police authority, water authority, highways agency, social security, inland revenue and administrator of justice all rolled in one. Queen Elizabeth I had identified JP's as her effective administrative arm a century before. Women were publicly whipped in Pensford for falling pregnant outside marriage for example. Locke's father was specifically responsible for the county's sewers and for calculating and collecting the hated Ship Money – one of the aggravating factors leading up to the civil war. Pensford was part of the Popham estate, for which John senior acted as attorney. It was the location of a weekly market and twice yearly fair that required supervision and adjudication.

The Civil War had seriously depleted the family fortune and it was equally disastrous for his boss, Alexander Popham, both suffering defeat by Royalist troops at the battle of Devizes in 1643. After this they appear to have retired from the conflict. The office of Custos Rotulorum was filled by Alexander Popham, who is described as Keeper of the Rolls of the County at the Wells Sessions, 1653-4.

So the atmosphere at home was likely to have been sober and industrious with little time for frivolity. Nevertheless or even perhaps because of it, it is clear that Locke junior managed to develop an earthy and somewhat subversive sense of humour. Having been brought up in a Plymouth Brethren family, I am aware how humour is used to mitigate an overly sober environment and I think I can understand how it might have developed.


One of Locke's best friends whilst at Pensford was another John. John Strachey was an equally interesting guy of a long and distinguished line. He lived at an Elizabethan mansion a few miles across the valley at Sutton Court, that until comparatively recently, retained its ancient castellated charm and was occupied by a direct descendant. In fact I retain a vivid memory of visiting as a child with my father who conversed with the last Lord Strachey, whilst his Great Dane looked in at me and my Cardigan Corgi through the back window of the Morris Eight! Sadly on his death, modern economic necessity required the house be converted to flats, surrounded by “executive houses”, and with it an indefinable historic aura of a past age was lost for ever.

Until 1973, Sutton Court was the residence of Sir Edward Strachey (1882––1973), second Baron Strachie, and last in direct line of descent from John Strachey, F.R.S. 


In his 1922 autobiography, “The Adventure of Living”, John St. Loe Strachey refers affectionately to Sutton Court, his family home and ancestors. He writes :

The beauty and fascination of the house, its walls, its trees and its memories made …. so deep an impression upon me that to this hour I love the place, the thought of it, and even the very name of it, as I love no other material thing.”

Sutton Court (an early image)


I remembered with a glow of pride that it was on these principles that my family had been nourished. William Strachey, the first Secretary to the Colony of Virginia, would I felt, have been a true Whig if Whig principles had been enunciated in his time, for the Virginia Company was a Liberal movement. John Strachey his son stood at the very cradle of Whiggism, for was he not the intimate friend of John Locke? Locke in his letters from exile and in his formative period writes to Strachey with affection and admiration.”

Indeed right up to his death in 1674, the very year Locke made his escape to to the continent, they maintained their friendship, Locke visiting him whenever back in Somerset and writing to him whenever away. Many of the letters having been preserved. Consistently it is his humour and scepticism that comes through. Just one example will have to do.

Whilst on a Government mission to Germany, he pokes good-natured fun at a “learned bard in a threadbare coat and a hat that though in its younger days it had been black, yet it was grown grey with the labour of its master's brain … his two shoes had but one heel, which made his own foot go as uneven as his verses.” And again in relation to a formal disputation of theologians he records, “the dispute was a good sport and would have made a horse laugh and truly I was like to break my bridle”.

As the descendant of a line of Chew Magna saddlers, who probably sewed leather for Strachey horses (indeed my four times grandparents were born on the Sutton estate) I appreciate the allusion.

An early photograph of Sutton Court (and as I remember it)



In passing, it may be worth referring to John Strachey (10 May 1671 – 11 June 1743) son of Locke's close friend who was a noted and early Geologist. We have this from WIKIPEDIA:
"He was born in Chew MagnaEngland. He inherited estates including Sutton Court from his father at three years of age. He matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford and was admitted at Middle Temple, London, in 1688. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1719.[1] He introduced a theory of rock formations known as Stratum, based on a pictorial cross-section of the geology under his estate at Bishop Sutton and Stowey in the Chew Valley and coal seams in nearby coal works of the Somerset coalfield, projecting them according to their measured thicknesses and attitudes into unknown areas between the coal workings.[2] The purpose was to enhance the value of his grant of a coal-lease on parts of his estate. This work was later developed by William Smith.[3] In addition to his map making and geological interests he had several other publications including An Alphabetical List of the Religious Houses in Somersetshire (1731)"



John Strachey,  (born May 10, 1671, Chew Magna, Eng.—died June 11, 1743, Greenwich), early geologist who was the first to suggest the theory of stratified rock formations. He wrote Observations on the Different Strata of Earths and Minerals (1727) and stated that there was a relation between surface features and the rock structure, an idea that was not commonly accepted until a century later.


Sons and daughters of Sir Richard Strachey and Lady Strachey. Left to right: Marjorie, Dorothea,Lytton, Joan Pernel, Oliver, Dick, Ralph, Philippa, Elinor, James.



 PART 2



Leaving Home and London Schooling.

In 1647 he left home to attend Westminster School in London, then and now, one of the most prestigious in the country. Situated in the shadow of Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster - the seat of the British Parliament – the contrast with his rural background must have been dramatic.

Westminster School


We know little or nothing about his formal education up to fifteen. Maybe a local tutor was employed. In any event it could not have been inadequate preparation for the new school as Locke excelled in Latin and Greek and was appointed a “King's Scholar” - a privilege that went to only select number of boys, who from the time of Henry VIII, were financed from the royal purse.

When he was there, the notorious Dr Busby was headmaster who established a reputation, as much for the birch and strict discipline as for rigorous classical learning. On the day of Charles I execution, not many yards away in Whitehall, Busby prayed for the safety of the King, and then locked the boys inside to prevent their going to watch the spectacle. He apparently thrashed Royalist and Puritan boys alike without fear or favour. Busby remained in office throughout the Civil War and the Commonwealth, when the school was governed by Parliamentary Commissioners, and well into the Restoration. Locke came from devoutly Puritan stock, but he welcomed the return of the King a decade later. He was comfortable with monarchy, subject to it being protestant and constitutionally accountable to Parliament, a philosophical position that would subsequently give him big trouble.

After Westminster, by dint of effort, seeking influential support and an impressive public oration in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, he secured a scholarship to attend Christ Church, Oxford, which he entered in 1652.

In 1656 he graduated with a Bachelor's degree and a Master's in 1658. He was subsequently awarded a bachelor of medicine in 1674 despite university opposition, by the intervention and support of his powerful patron, the Earl of Shaftesbury. 

Since the late 1650's, including the times he was in Pensford, medicine had been his chosen subject, in preference to the more usual Theology. In fact he did not follow the accustomed route in either and claimed his medical degree on the basis of a proven track record, and especially by the reportedly saving Lord Ashley's life. This rather than the prescribed course of study. 

This is not to suggest his own intellect and study did not make up for it. Note books still exist of what we might call “country cures” from his Somerset home and amongst his voluminous writings fragments survive of a manuscript entitled “Arte Medica” that was not published until the 19th Century in Fox Bourne's “Life of John Locke”. 

I happen to have A. G. Gibson's 1933 book on the subject. It might today be regarded as guidelines in diagnosis and treatment for a doctor in “general practice”. Reading it, one is impressed with its common sense and modernity. Had it been published, Gibson suggests it might have done for the body, what his “Essay on Understanding” did for the mind.

It was therefore the move from Somerset to London at age fifteen that was undoubtedly one of the most significant events in his long life.

Apart from brief periodic visits up to the mid-1660's, he would never return permanently to his Somerset roots, though he retained his local accent - which we must assume was reasonably precise and articulate yet retaining the North Somerset/Bristolian burr - and grounded attitude. 

His status was certainly elevated by virtue of his education and employment by aristocracy and Crown, and he died a very rich man by standards of the time, though he was never formally honoured or Knighted. He died as he had lived, just plain John Locke. Indeed it was some years before his impact was truly assessed and acknowledged.

London, Oxford and Essex.

After Pensford his life was spent in London, Oxford, extended periods in France and Holland and finally Essex, where in 1691, Locke's close friend Lady Masham (nee Damaris Cudworth) who he had first met in 1681 when she was in her early twenties and twenty eight years his junior, invited him to join her at Sir Francis Masham's country house in “Oates”, in Essex. 

She was the daughter of a contemporary at Christ Church and it is difficult not to believe he was smitten by her. In fact they exchanged love letters as “Philander” and “Philoclea”, some of which are still in the Lovelace Collection, so clearly this was not merely a practical solution, though it is impossible to determine the exact nature of their relationship, then or later.

From Oats, for a while he made forays to London to fulfil his government job as Commissioner for Trade until his health could support it no longer. Can you imagine the difficulty and discomfort, given the state of coach suspension and road surface of the time?

He could not cope with London smoke and the stress of business but missed company, lacking intellectual stimulation. In letters he implored friends and relations to visit, saying to one: “Do not think now that I am grown either stoic or mystic. I can laugh as heartily as ever, and be in pain for the public as much as you. I am not grown into a sullenness that puts off humanity – no nor mirth either. Come and try...”

Locke never married or had children. Having dabbled with fame, power, intrigue and influence, one gets the impression in his final decade, he achieved a certain degree of national respect for his writings and part in the establishment of a protestant-enshrined new relationship between Monarch and Parliament. In a sense he came full circle to his Puritanical and liberal roots as exemplified by his self-composed epitaph in All Saints Church of High Laver, Essex:-

Stop, Traveller! Near this place lieth John Locke. If you ask what kind of a man he was, he answers that he lived content with his own small fortune. Bred a scholar, he made his learning subservient only to the cause of truth. This thou will learn from his writings, which will show thee everything else concerning him, with greater truth, than the suspect praises of an epitaph. His virtues, indeed, if he had any, were too little for him to propose as matter of praise to himself, or as an example to thee. Let his vices be buried together. As to an example of manners, if you seek that, you have it in the Gospels; of vices, to wish you have one nowhere; if mortality, certainly, (and may it profit thee), thou hast one here and everywhere.”




Revolutionary Times.

The period Locke lived through was not without its momentous events, bloody conflicts and political developments, as ideas clashed with ideas and cohort with opposing cohort. King against Parliament. Town against Country. Merchant against Aristocracy. Levellers versus those that believed in hierarchy. Rich against poor. Tolerance versus Conformity. Superstition versus Reason. Protestant against Catholic. Anglican versus Non-conformist. Puritan versus Quaker and Shaker. “Whig” versus “Tory”. Stuart line versus House of Orange replacement.

Religion and the role of the King which were inextricably linked, were dominant themes. On the one hand, the belief all executive power resided in the Monarch who obtained such authority from the Creator itself. On the other, that power resided ultimately in the people. It, and the power to tax without Parliamentary consent, was at the root of the civil war that lasted, on and off, for most of the 1640's - until King Charles I lost his head on a bitterly cold January morning in 1649. Regicide – a crime so unthinkable, the crowd let out what an observer described as, “a moan as he had never heard before and desired he might never hear again". Handkerchiefs were dipped in the king's blood as a memento. It is even possible that Locke and the other Westminster scholars, despite the efforts of the Headmaster, got an inkling of it!

Locke's life also spanned an absolutely pivotal period in human exploration, colonisation and experimentation. It effectively marks the start of science as we know it, which progressively affected humanity's world view. From being central to the divine creation and plan both literally and metaphorically, the role God played was gradually pushed back by discoveries through microscope and telescope, by observation, measurement, experiment and exploration. Having created the “clock”, God was likened to the Clock Maker. The Bible account was being tentatively challenged. From the fundamentalist literal view of the Bible, Locke moved inexorably towards a nuanced and deist interpretation by virtue of his own reasoning, whilst still retaining an evangelical view of Jesus as redemptive Christ and Saviour. Reason versus Faith or conversely Reason supportive of Faith, resulted in public debate with clerical critics in his later years.

In Italy in 1642, when Locke was ten, in far-off Italy, Galileo Galilei, who had been forced by the Catholic Church's Inquisition to recant his assertion that the sun, not the earth, was at the centre of the solar system, died. In the very same year, the great Isaac Newton was born. These two historical figures mark a huge transformation from the old to the new, what may be described as a scientific and religious revolution.

The first truly scientific society, the English Royal Society - still of course in existence - was founded in 1660, composed of some of the most enquiring minds of the day. Among the original Fellows were Christopher Wren, John Evelyn, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke. Some later notables were John Flamsteed, Edmond Halley and Hans Sloane. John Locke was to be elected to Fellowship in 1668 and moved in these circles. 

Whilst on Somerset trips in the mid-1660's, Locke contributed directly to Boyle's experiments on pressure, and was an assiduous collector of meteorological information for the greater part of his life. He was interested in all things human and all things scientific, what was then referred to as Natural Philosophy. He was well versed in the Classics, could speak at least seven languages and was fascinated with archaeological remains as with the pre-historic Stanton Drew Stone Circle close to his home that he described and discussed with John Evelyn. He was a respected lecturer and tutor in Latin and Greek, a trusted surgeon and physician, a confidant and adviser to political activists at the highest level. In short an undisputed polymath.

Robert Hooke's Microscopic Flea.


But Locke is chiefly remembered for his philosophical writings on economics, government and education at a time of great political upheaval and growth in trade, commerce, technical innovation and global expansion east and west. In all of these Locke had a prominent and direct involvement. Furthermore it now appears that the writings for which he famous published in or about 1690, were in fact drafted in the early 1660's which equates to an extended stay in Somerset when his father was ill. So it it is not altogether fanciful that Locke's quill dipped initially in Pensford ink!

Personal Consequences of War.

When Locke was still a youth at home in Pensford, Britain was wracked by civil war. His family was directly affected.  His father was a country attorney and land steward for the local Lord of the Manor, Alexander Popham, who also was appointed a Colonel for the Parliamentary, and ultimately victorious, forces under Oliver Cromwell. John's father was a Captain of Horse and was impoverished by it. It was this connection, possibly by way of gratitude, that Locke secured his Westminster place in 1647, the Parliamentarians then being in the ascendancy and Popham having the right to sponsor.

Oxford.

At Christ Church, perhaps Oxford's most prestigious college, Locke immersed himself in logic and metaphysics, as well as the classical languages. After graduating in 1656, he returned to Christ Church two years later for a Master of Arts, which led in just a few short years to Locke taking on tutorial work at the college. 

His bachelor of medicine awarded in 1674 resulted from influential political connections despite University objections, principally Lord Ashley – later Earl of Shaftesbury - who's life he had saved in a surgical procedure and who's personal physician and confident he became. In 1678 Shaftesbury was made chancellor and Locke became his “Secretary of Presentations”. They were close and Locke's fortunes mirrored those of his master.

Christchurch, Oxford.

Image result for christchurch oxford images



Lord Ashley, Later Earl of Shafesbury

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC (22 July 1621 – 21 January 1683), known as Anthony Ashley Cooper from 1621 to 1631, as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Baronet from 1631 to 1661, and as The Lord Ashley from 1661 to 1672, was a prominentEnglish politician during the Interregnum and during the reign of King Charles II. A founder of the Whig party, he is also remembered as the patron of John Locke.

Cooper was one of twelve members of parliament who travelled to the Dutch Republic to invite King Charles II to return to England. Shortly before his coronation, Charles created Cooper Lord Ashley, so when the Cavalier Parliament assembled in 1661 he moved from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. He served asChancellor of the Exchequer, 1661–1672. Lord Chancellor 1672–1673. He was created Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672. During this period, John Locke entered Ashley's household. Ashley took an interest in colonial ventures and was one of the Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina; in 1669, Ashley and Locke collaborated in writing the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. Shaftesbury, who sympathised with the Protestant Nonconformists, briefly agreed to work with the Duke of York, who opposed enforcing the penal laws against Roman Catholic recusants. By 1675, however, Shaftesbury was convinced that Danby, assisted by the bishops of the Church of England, was determined to transform England into an absolute monarchy, and he soon came to see the Duke of York's own religion as linked to this issue. Opposed to the growth of "popery and arbitrary government", throughout the latter half of the 1670s Shaftesbury argued in favour of frequent parliaments (spending time in the Tower of London, 1677–1678 for espousing this view) and argued that the nation needed protection from a potential Roman Catholic successor to King Charles II. During the Exclusion Crisis, Shaftesbury was an outspoken supporter of the Exclusion Bill, although he also endorsed other proposals that would have prevented the Duke of York from becoming king, such as Charles II's remarrying a Protestant princess and producing a Protestant heir to the throne, or legitimising Charles II's illegitimate Protestant son the Duke of Monmouth. TheWhig party was born during the Exclusion Crisis, and Shaftesbury was one of the party's most prominent leaders. In 1681, during the Tory reaction following the failure of the Exclusion Bill, Shaftesbury was arrested for high treason, although the prosecution was dropped several months later. In 1682, after the Tories had gained the ability to pack London juries with their supporters, Shaftesbury, fearing a second prosecution, fled the country. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, he fell ill, and soon died, in January 1683.

Flight and Fight.

When Shaftesbury fell out of favour, when he was implicated in an assassination attempt on the King – the so-called Rye House Plot – in 16, Locke made a run for it to Holland where he laid low for several years. He may well have been supportive of, and instrumental in, the “Monmouth Uprising” in 1685, that ended disastrously for the participants – Locke's Somerset countrymen. He may even have known the families on his Pensford estate from which twelve men were hung and many more sentenced to transportation.


James Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch 1649-85: Portrait and Contemporary Image of his Execution and of West Country Rebels


The narcissistic Duke of Monmouth was executed, as were many of his followers after the “Bloody” travelling Assize, supervised by the young but vicious Judge Jeffreys. There is little doubt that the two events of Civil War and the Monmouth Uprising were crucial factors in his political stance and writings. He witnessed first hand the destructive power of religious and political intolerance, and the cold viciousness that could be meted out by Government against its own people. Privately he may also have felt a stab of guilt for his part in a disastrous and bloody rebellion.

Shaftesbury's Downfall

Locke, despite his best efforts, or perhaps because of them, had a habit of courting controversy and danger. As a result he also became adept in the arts of subterfuge, camouflage and discretion. In correspondence he developed his own short-hand and code. In 1660 when the issue of the Restoration of Charles the Second was being decided, and vengeance being meted out to those that supported his execution of his father, Locke returned to, some might say “laid low” in, Somerset until the issue had been decided and he could return to Oxford, untainted.



When his Patron and employer fell out of favour and lost his job as Chancellor in 1675, Locke rather conveniently set sail for France for his health – he suffered all his life from something akin to asthma – and didn't return for three and a half years. Shaftesbury fled to Holland in 1681 where he died soon after. Locke attended his funeral when his body was returned to London.

Rye House Plot



The Rye House Plot of 1683 was a plan to assassinate KingCharles II of England and his brother (and heir to the throne) James, Duke of York. Historians vary in their assessment of the degree to which details of the conspiracy were finalized. Whatever the state of the assassination plot, plans to mount a rebellion against the Stuart monarchy were being entertained by some opposition leaders in England, and the government cracked down hard on those in a series of state trials, accompanied with repressive measures and widespread searches for arms. The Plot presaged, and may have hastened, the rebellions of 1685.


After the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660 there was concern among some members of Parliament, former republicans and sections of the Protestant population of England that the King's relationship with France under Louis XIV and the other Catholic rulers of Europe was too close. Anti-Catholic sentiment, which associated Catholicism with absolutism, was widespread, and focussed particular attention on the succession to the throne. While Charles was publicly Anglican, he and his brother were known to have Catholic sympathies. These suspicions were confirmed in 1673 when James was discovered to have converted to Roman Catholicism.


In 1681, triggered by the opposition-invented Popish Plot, the Exclusion Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, which would have excluded James from the succession. Charles outmanoeuvred his opponents and dissolved Parliament. This left his opponents with no lawful method of preventing James's succession, and rumours of plots and conspiracies abounded. With the "country party" in disarray, Lord Melville, Lord Leven, andLord Shaftesbury, leader of the opposition to Charles's rule, fled to Holland where Shaftesbury soon died. Many well-known members of Parliament and noblemen of the "country party" would soon be known as Whigs, a faction name that stuck.

There followed the so called “Rye House Plot” to kill both King Charles II and his brother, next in line to the throne, James, in 1683, in which Locke was directly implicated. Again he avoided arrest by slipping away from his Oxford lodgings and travelling to Amsterdam, where with the help of friends, he managed to dodge discovery and British attempts to extradite him to answer to charges of treachery. On his part he vehemently protested his innocence and researchers have failed to prove complicity, although this may indicate Locke's acuity.


The Monmouth Uprising (1685)


From WIKIPEDIA: "The Monmouth Rebellion, also known as The Revolt of the West or The West Country rebellion, was an attempt to overthrow James II, who had become King of England, Scotland and Ireland upon the death of his elder brother Charles II on 6 February 1685. James II was a Roman Catholic, and some Protestants under his rule opposed his kingship. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, claimed to be rightful heir to the throne and attempted to displace James II."


"Following the failure of the Rye House Plot to assassinate Charles II and James in 1683, plans for several different actions to overthrow the monarch were discussed while Monmouth was in self-imposed exile in the Dutch Republic. Archibald Campbell, theEarl of Argyll, landed with a small force in Scotland. Because Monmouth had previously been popular in the South West of England he planned to recruit troops locally and take control of the area before marching on London."



In 1685 the rather vacuous Duke of Marlborough was persuaded to attempt to wrest the crown with an armed uprising. Who should channel significant sums to the attempt in Amsterdam but a “Mr Locke” although it has been claimed this was different individual. Biographer Maurice Cranston took the view that the “Mr Lock” or “Locke” who supplied at least £1000 to support the venture, was a tobacconist come over from London. If so it is quite a big coincidence and alternatively. Could it have provided “cover” for the more famous namesake?

He was certainly in close contact with a Thomas Dare, Monmouth's Comptroller, and arrived with the Queen Mary three years later when William landed, so it is almost inconceivable that Locke was unconnected in some way to the Monmouth Uprising. It may or may not be significant that in his fateful progress to Sedgemore, arguably the last battle on English soil, Monmouth stopped off for a night on Locke's Belluton land before progressing to confront the King's forces at Keynsham.

Judge Jeffreys manhandled by the Mob 1688 and his Earlier Portrait



From WIKIPEDIA: "Monmouth was executed for treason on 15 July 1685. Many of his supporters were tried during the Bloody Assizes lead by Judge Jeffreys and condemned to death or transportation. James II was then able to consolidate his power and reigned until 1688 when he was overthrown in a coup d'├ętat by William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution."


"During the Glorious Revolution, when James II fled the country, Jeffreys stayed in London until the last moment, being the only high legal authority in James's abandoned kingdom to perform political duties. When William III's troops approached London, Jeffreys tried to flee and follow the King abroad. He was captured in a public house in Wapping, now named The Town of Ramsgate. Reputedly he was disguised as a sailor, and was recognized by a surviving judicial victim. Jeffreys was in terror of the public when dragged to the Lord Mayor and then to prison "for his own safety". He begged his captors for protection from the mob."


"He died of kidney disease (probably pyelonephritis) while in custody in the Tower of London on 18 April 1689. He was originally buried in the Chapel Royal of Saint Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. In 1692 his body was moved to St Mary Aldermanbury."


King James II



The Glorious Revolution


From WIKIPEDIA: "The Glorious Revolution,[b] also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland and James II of Ireland) by a union of EnglishParliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III ofOrange-Nassau (William of Orange). William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascending of the English throne as William III of England jointly with his wife Mary II of England."

"Some of the most influential leaders of theTories united with members of the opposition Whigs and set out to resolve the crisis by inviting William of Orange to England,[1] which the stadtholder, who feared an Anglo-French alliance, had indicated as a condition for a military intervention."

"After consolidating political and financial support, William crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay. After only two minor clashes between the two opposing armies in England, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns, James's regime collapsed, largely because of a lack of resolve shown by the king. However, this was followed by the protracted Williamite War in Ireland and Dundee's rising in Scotland.[c] In England's geographically-distant American colonies, the revolution led to the collapse of the Dominion of New England and the overthrow of the Province of Maryland's government. Following a defeat of his forces at the Battle of Reading on 9 December, James and his wife fled England;"




Post 1688 – Preferment and Publication



The confession was first published in London in 1677 under the title "A confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians, Baptized upon Profession of their Faith in London and the Country. With an Appendies concerning Baptism."[2] It was based on the The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the Savoy Declaration (1658), with modifications to reflect Baptist views on church organizationand baptism.[2] The confession was published again, under the same title, in 1688 and 1689.[2]

The Toleration Act of 1689[edit]

In 1689, The Toleration Act was passed, which enabled religious freedom and plurality to co-exist alongside the established churches in England and Scotland. This official reprieve resulted in representatives from over 100 Particular Baptist churches to meet together in London from 3–12 September to discuss and endorse the 1677 document. Despite the fact that the document was written in 1677, the official preface to the document has ensured that it would be known as the "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith".



Conclusion.

So in conclusion of this simple biographical review, we may say that during a period of unprecedented scientific and political change, when England rejected Monarchy, reinstated it and then modified it to ensure that never again executive power could be exercised without the approval of the people, through Parliament, and great advances were made in man's view of himself in the cosmos, this man John Locke was at the very centre of the action.

Some might draw parallels with the situation today in respect of the relationship between those who govern and are governed; the social consequences of scientific advances; the accountability of an elite; a crisis in finance; the need for and justification of, political revolution; reassessment of spiritual and moral paradigms; and the meaning of “freedom” in a modern world of surveillance and control. Does Locke still have relevance today? Perhaps you will allow me to make a feeble stab at this question in a second part soon?

Postscript: As this is intended to be the first part of a discursive rather than a scholarly article, I have not attached a bibliography or references. However for anyone who wishes to find out more, Wikipedia on line provides a wealth of information.


Bibliography


Cranston, Maurice. “John Locke – A Biography”. Longmans. 1957.
Gibson, A. G. “The Physician's Art. An Attempt to Expand John Locke's Fragment De Arte Medica” Clarenden Press. 1933.
Strachey, John St. Loe. The Adventure of Living: A Subjective Autobiography. Putnam. 1922.
Woolhouse, Roger. “Locke - A Biography”. Cambridge. 2007.

END.













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