Patriarcha and Other Political Works

Patriarcha and Other Political Works

Patriarcha and Other Political Works

Patriarcha and Other Political Works

Excerpt

For over two hundred years the name of Sir Robert Filmer has been a byword -- a byword for obscurity. None, or almost none, of the thinkers or historians who have examined Filmerism, refuted it, anatomized it or simply dismissed it as stupidity have known exactly who Sir Robert Filmer was, when he lived, what he did and what he wrote. It so happens that all the important evidence about his life and his writings was preserved by the line of English baronets which descended from him and which persisted until 1916. It is set out here with two objectives. First, to fix him in his historical context and to make it easier to understand why he wrote as he did. Second, to correct the inaccuracies and misconceptions caused by this lengthy story of contemptuous neglect.

He was born in or about the year 1588 -- the year of the Great Armada and the year of the birth of Thomas Hobbes. His father was Edward Filmer, gent., lord of the manor of Little Charlton in the parish of East Sutton near Maidstone in Kent, and later Sir Edward Filmer, Kt., owner of the whole of East Sutton, Sheriff of Kent and county notable. He was Sir Edward's eldest son and the heir to three other Kentish manors and much landed property. Most of it had been accumulated by his grandfather, Robert Filmer, who had been a registrar or prothonotary of Queen Elizabeth's Court of the Common Pleas and a typical sixteenth-century lawyer on the make.

His mother was Elizabeth Argall, a member of another recently established county family with its origins in the City of London. But the Filmers were an older family than the Argalls and Sir Robert Filmer inherited a name which can be traced back to the early fourteenth century and a coat of arms of genuine antiquity. Both families were connected with the gentry of Essex and with the society of merchant venturers which founded the first community of Englishmen overseas -- the Virginia Company of London. Sir Robert Filmer's uncle was Captain Sir Samuel Argall, first discoverer of the direct sea route to Virginia, first surveyor of the coast of New England, reputed conqueror of the site of the modern city of New York.

He spent the first forty-one of his sixty-five years as the eldest son of a family of eighteen children. He was educated first (probably) at the village school, then at Trinity College, Cambridge, where his . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.