Richard Cumberland and Natural Law: Secularisation of Thought in Seventeenth-Century England

By Linda Kirk

An in-depth discussion of the life and theories of a 17th-century polymath.

ISBN: 9780227176788


Richard Cumberland and Natural Law represents the first major biographical sketch of Cumberland to appear in English. A critic and antagonist of Thomas Hobbes, a proto-Utilitarian and a man of the cloth, Richard Cumberland may be England’s least recognised seventeenth century polymath, often overshadowed by the likes of John Bramhall and John Wallis. His magnum opus, De Legibus Naturae (On Natural Laws) stands in quality amongst the greatest works of natural philosophy and ethics of his time period.

Here Kirk outlines Cumberland’s significant philosophical contributions as well as situating him in his intellectual and historical context. She describes his life, his work as Bishop of Peterborough, and his pioneering contributions to natural law theory. Kirk also includes a chapter on the various editions of Cumberland’s masterwork and the praise it received from his contemporaries. Richard Cumberland and Natural Law remains the foremost collection of biographical information of Richard Cumberland, as well as offering a comprehensive discussion of his theories.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 156 mm
Pages 188

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Linda Kirk was educated at the University of Cambridge. She taught at the then University College of Rhodesia before becoming a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, where she is currently Honorary Lecturer in Early Modern History. Kirk was a founding member of the Political Thought Conference and has more recently worked and published on eighteenth-century Geneva.


Preface to the Second Edition
Note on Translation

1. Natural Law and Cumberland
2. Law
3. Property
4. Sovereignty
5. Editions, Translations and Reactions
6. Cumberland and the Eighteenth Century