John Sadler (1615-1674): Religion, Common Law, and Reason in Early Modern England

Jain, Pranav Kumar

Most histories of Early Modern English common law focus on a very specific set of individuals, namely Justices Edward Coke and Matthew Hale, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Henry Finch, Sir John Doddridge, and-very recently-John Selden. The focus is partly explained by the immense influence most of these individuals exercised upon the study and practice of common law during the seventeenth century. Moreover, according to J.W. Tubbs, such a focus is unavoidable because a great majority of common lawyers left no record of their thoughts. It is my contention that Tubbs’ view is unwarranted. Even if it is impossible to reconstruct the thoughts of a vast majority of common lawyers, there is no reason to limit our studies of common law to the aforementioned group of individuals. In fact, if we are to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the place of common law in political and intellectual culture of the seventeenth century, it is necessary to move beyond the limits to which current historiography has confined itself.

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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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April 26, 2016