Deism in Enlightenment England

Theology, politics, and Newtonian public science

By Jeffrey Wigelsworth

Deism in Enlightenment England


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7872-9
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2009
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History, Early Modern History
  • Series: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain


This is the first complete study of English deists as a group in several decades and it argues for a new interpretation of deism in the English Enlightenment. While there have been many recent studies of the deist John Toland, the writings of other contemporary deists have been forgotten.

With extensive analysis of lesser known figures such as Anthony Collins, Matthew Tindal, Thomas Chub, and Thomas Morgan, in addition to unique insights into Toland, Deism in Enlightenment England offers a much broader assessment of what deism entailed in the eighteenth century. Readers will see how previous interpretations of English deists, which place these figures on an irreligious trajectory leading towards modernity, need to be revised.

This book uses deists to address a number of topics and themes and theme in English history and will be of particular interest to scholars of Enlightenment history, history of science, theology and politics, and the early modern era.


Introduction: The importance of deist theology
1. The meaning of 1689: politics and theology, 1694-1700
2. The issue of succession: politics and theology, 1701-9
3. Matter, motion, and Newtonian public science, 1695-1714
4. The spectre of high-church: politics and theology, 1709-19
5. Matter, motion, and Newtonian public science, 1720-41
6. The age of Walpole: politics and theology, 1720-41
Conclusion: Radical no more


Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Dalhousie University

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