Richard Hooker Collection

An Exhibit from the W. Speed Hill Collection of the Works of Richard Hooker Given to the Graham Library in 2003

Richard Hooker portrait and title page for Of the Lawes

The “judicious” Richard Hooker (1554-1600) has been deemed not only defender, but inventor of Anglicanism, the “father of Anglo-Catholic theology,” his Lawes “the terminus a quo for any … study of the specific genius of Anglicanism.” He presented the English church as “an independent branch of the Church Universal, neither Roman nor Calvinist, but at once Catholic and Protestant, with a positive doctrine and discipline of its own and a definite mission in the wide economy of Grace” (More). Responding to the threat of “Presbyterian power” to the Church of England and to attacks on his own position, he produced “the first major work in the fields of theology, philosophy, and political thought to be written in English”–Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie. (Dictionary of National Biography)

Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie I-IV

The first four books of the Lawes were dedicated to “generall meditations” or first principles, the last four to particular controversial issues regarding worship and governance. Only the first five books were published during Hooker's lifetime, though the title consistently indicates that there are eight books. Hooker distinguished in the early books between “the lawes whereby we live…currently in force in the English church” and “divine law, presented by advocates of Genevan Presbyterianism as a radically incompatible alternative.” Conflict between the two is addressed by an enriched definition of law that embraces its diversity and rejects immutability even in the context of divine origin. Hooker viewed “devotion to the ideal of law as intelligible direction towards an understood end,” as opposed to “devotion … to a narrow and ill-founded conception of Christ’s statutes.”  While scripture contains all that is needed for salvation, this does not require that it prescribe a form of church polity that is binding in perpetuity. Scripture presupposes human reason. Book V of the Lawes is concerned with the forms of worship and ministry prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. Longer than the Preface and first four books combined, it offers “in both its details and its Christocentric structure … a theology of public devotion of extraordinary depth.” (DNB)



  • 1. London: Printed by John Windet [1593]. Books I-IV, 1st edition; with The Fift Booke. 1st edition. London: Printed by John Windet, 1597. Folio. STC 13712 + 13712.5. Although the title notes eight books, only four were published in the 1593 edition. Included in Printing and the Mind of Man.

  • 2. London: Printed by John Windet, 1604. Books I-IV, 2nd edition; with The Fift Booke. 1st edition. London: Printed by John Windet, 1597. Folio. STC 13713 + 13712.5. Books I-IV are a paginary reprint of the 1593 edition, with the addition of John Spenser’s prefatory address “To the Reader”.


William Stansby “attempted to produce a distinctive and handsome volume” in 1611, using for the first time continuous pagination for the five books and commissioning an elaborate engraved title by William Hole that would be used in the eleven subsequent London folio editions through 1723. Over the next twenty-one years Stansby produced three more editions of Books I-V, in 1617, 1622, and 1632. From the second state of 1617 various minor works were also included, collectively entitled Certayne Divine Tractates but with separate title pages as well. The several sections, even when continuously paged, were issued as paginary reprints often in mixed editions.

  • 3. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1611. Books I-IV, 3rd edition; Book V, 2nd edition. Folio. STC 13714.
  • 4. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1617. Books I-IV, 4th edition; Book V, 3rd edition. Folio. STC 13716.
  • 5. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1617. As above; with Certayne Divine Tractates and Other Godly Sermons. 1st collected edition. London: Henry Fetherstone, 1618. Large paper copy. Folio. STC 13716.


First of the collected Tractates was William Travers’s Supplication to the privy council after his suspension by Archbishop John Whitgift from the position of Temple lecturer during Hooker’s tenure as master of the Temple. Following is Hooker’s Answer to Travers’s charge of “apparent leniency towards both weak believing and false beliefs,” addressed to Whitgift in 1586. Travers’s attacks on Hooker, to whom he was related by marriage, were said to be “without personal animosity” (DNB).

  • 6. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1617. Books I-IV, 4th edition; Book V, 3rd edition; Tractates, 2nd edition, 1622. Folio. STC 13716 + 13717.
  • 9. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1632-(31). Books I-IV, 6th edition; Book V, 5th edition; Tractates, 3rd edition. STC 13718.
  • 10. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1632(-31). As above, but Tractates, 4th edition. STC 13718 + 13719.


After William Stansby’s death in 1638 Richard Bishop produced a new edition of Hooker’s works, thus confirming that Stansby’s initial faith in the book was justified, even that Hooker’s Lawes “had assumed the status of a contemporary classic” (Hill).

  • 7.  London: Printed by William Stansby, 1617. A mixed edition, with Tractates complete. Folio. STC 13716.
  • 8. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1622. Books I-IV, 5th edition; Book V, 4th edition; Tractates, 2nd edition. Folio. STC 13717.
  • 11. London: Printed by Richard Bishop (1638-39). Books I-IV, 7th edition; Book V, 6th edition; Tractates, 5th edition. Folio. STC 13720. This is the last appearance of the preface “To the Reader” written by Hooker’s friend and literary executor, John Spenser, to introduce the 1604 and subsequent folio editions.


In 1662 John Gauden, Bishop of Exeter, edited a new folio of Hooker’s works, the first to include all eight books of the Lawes. (The sixth and eighth books had been printed separately in 1648, the seventh uncovered in manuscript.) He also provided a highly inaccurate Life of Hooker and, as a frontispiece, a Faithorne engraving based on the effigy over Hooker’s tomb. The Hole engraving continued to be used for the general title page. “The Gauden edition, asserting as it did the authenticity of the three posthumous books, proved embarrassing to many of the Restoration episcopate and called forth Walton’s famous Life of 1665, with its corrections to Gauden’s biography and a deliberate attempt to discredit the later books. In its second edition Walton’s Life prefaced the 1666 folio, which superseded that of 1662, providing a text corrected against the edition of 1611 and destined to “set the text and canon of Hooker’s Works for a century and a half.” (Hill)

  • 12. The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker ... Vindicating the Church of England, as Truly Christian, and Duly Reformed: in Eight Books of Ecclesiastical Polity: Now Compleated. First edition of The Works to  include Books VI-VIII. With Gauden’s Life. London: Printed by J. Best, for Andrew Crook, 1662. Folio. Wing H 2630.
  • 13. 2nd  edition. London: Printed by Thomas Newcomb for Andrew Crook, 1666. First edition to reprint Walton's Life. Wing H2631.


Following reprints of the 1666 edition in 1676 and 1682, “the ecclesiastical historian John Strype added materially to Walton’s biography and corrected apparent errors for a 1705 edition. In 1723 the last folio was printed in London. Though the handsomest of all, it was not “the best edition of all,” as Keble claimed, in that “its text merely incorporates the progressive corruptions of its multiple forebears.” (Hill)

  • 14. 3rd  edition. London: Robert Scot., Thomas Basset, John Wright & Richard Chiswel, 1676. Folio. Wing H2632.
  • 15. 4th  edition. London: Robert Scot, Thomas Basset, John Wright and Richard Chiswel, 1682. Folio. Wing H2633.
  • 16. 5th  edition. London: R.C., S.S., B.W., M.W., G.C., 1705. Folio.
  • 17. 6th  edition. London: John Walthoe et al., 1723. Folio.


The first octavo edition of Hooker’s Works, was produced, according to Keble, “under the superintendence of Bishop Randolph,” published in three volumes by Clarendon Press in 1793 and reprinted in 1807 and 1820.

  • 18. An Abridgment of the Ecclesiastical Polity. Ed. Matthew Hemmings. Dublin: Printed by J.A. Husband, for William Watson, 1773. Octavo.
  • 19. The Works. “A New Edition.” 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1807. Octavo.
  • 21. “A New Edition.” 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1820. Octavo. Calf boards stamped with seal of Oriel College, Oxford. Presentation copy with note tipped in.
    21.2 “A New Edition.” 3 vols. London: Printed by J.F. Dove, for John Bumpus et al., 1821. Octavo. Original paper boards.


John Keble, whose first edition of the Works appeared in 1836, had access to the manuscript collections at Corpus Christi and at Trinity College, Dublin, and was thus able to produce an edition of far greater authority for the works as a whole. But Keble’s claim that his edition “professes to be a reprint” of the Editio Princeps “except in some matters of punctuation, and many of orthography” is belied to an extent by the presence of  numerous “fossils of the later folios.” In addition to correcting many errors that “had encumbered the text for centuries,” Keble also introduced numbered sections for ease of reference and added invaluable notes. His full three-volume edition was reprinted in 1841, 1845, 1863, 1865, and 1874, and in a two-volume text-only format in 1841, 1845, 1850, 1865, and 1890. A selection of these editions is exhibited.

  • 22. The Ecclesiastical Polity and Other Works. Ed. Benjamin Hanbury. 3 vols. London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1830. Octavo. Although Benjamin Hanbury’s 1830 text was “superior to any since the early seventeenth century,” John Keble faulted its “party feeling”: “Hanbury had admitted that his perspective was not that of a member of the Church of England; his editorial contributions included a biography of Hooker’s principal antagonist, Thomas Cartwright, and liberal quotations from the Puritan attack upon Hooker.” (Hill)
  • 23. The Works. Ed. John Keble. First  Keble edition. 4 vols. in 3. Oxford: University Press, 1836. Octavo.
  • 24. Ed. John Keble. 2nd Keble edition. 3 vols. Oxford: University Press, 1841. Octavo.
  • 25. The Works. 2 vols. Oxford: University Press, 1841. Octavo.
  • 26. The Works. Ed. John Keble. 3rd Keble edition. 3 vols. Oxford: University Press, 1845. Octavo. Calf board stamped with seal of Oxford University.
  • 27. Ed. John Keble. 2 vols. Oxford: University Press, 1845. Octavo.
  • 29. The Works. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1865. Octavo.
  • 30. The Works. Ed. John Keble. 6th Keble edition. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1874. Octavo. Original purple cloth.


  • In 1888 a seventh three-volume edition of Keble’s text revised by R.W. Church and Francis Paget became the standard scholarly text. Church had already published an edition of Book I, using Keble’s text and adding useful supplementary notes, and Paget had published a book-length commentary on Book V. Apart from Ronald Bayne’s 1902 edition of Book V, no further textual work was attempted before the monumental Folger Library Edition under the general editorship of W. Speed Hill.
  • 31. Book I of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Ed. R. W. Church. 2nd edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1876. Octavo.
  • 33. Paget, Francis. An Introduction to the Fifth Book of Hooker's Treatise Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899.
  • 34. Youens, F.A.C. Analysis of Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity Book V. London: Robert Scott, 1912.
  • 35. Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VIII. Ed. Raymond Aaron Houk. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.
  • 36. Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Ed. A.S. McGrade and Brian Vickers. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1975.
  • 36.1. The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker. General ed. W. Speed Hill. 7 vols. in 8. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1977-98.  (Vols. 6 & 7 have imprint of Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.)


Other works published in the year of the Lawes, 1593

  • 37. Hooker, Richard. A Learned and Comfortable Sermon of the Certaintie and Perpetuitie of Faith in the Elect. Oxford: Printed by Joseph Barnes, 1612. Quarto. STC 13707. “There is no exploration of deep theological points here but rather a picture of God as so merciful to human weakness and wavering that even anxiety about not having faith can be taken as a sign of having it.” (DNB)
  • 38. Another copy, bound with: A Learned Discourse of Justification, Workes, and How the Foundation of Faith Is Overthrowne. 2nd  edition. Oxford: Printed by Joseph Barnes, 1613. Quarto. STC 13707 + 13709. Hooker expresses pastoral leniency toward those holding beliefs that are logically incompatible, such as different doctrines of justification between England and Rome, faith and works.
  • 39. Hooker, Richard. Two Sermons upon Part of S. Judes Epistle. Oxford: Printed by Joseph Barnes, 1614. Quarto. STC 13723. These two sermons survive from Hooker’s years at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and reflect his intense concern about Roman Catholic attacks on the English church, especially by Englishmen themselves (DNB).
  • 42. [Bancroft, Richard.] A Survay of the Pretended Holy Discipline. London: Printed by John Wolfe, 1593. Quarto. Contemporary vellum. STC 1352.
  • 43. [Bancroft, Richard.] Daungerous Positions and Proceedings, Published and Practised within This Iland of Brytaine, under Pretence of Reformation, and for the Presbiteriall Discipline. London: Printed by John Wolfe, 1593. Quarto. STC 1344.
  • 44. Bilson, Thomas. The Perpetual Governement of Christes Church. London: Printed by the deputies of Christopher Barker, 1593. Quarto. Contemporary vellum. STC 3065.
  • 45. Cosin, Richard. An Apologie for Sundrie Proceedings by Jurisdiction Ecclesiasticall.  2nd edition. London: Printed by the deputies of Christopher Barker, 1593. Quarto. Contemporary vellum. STC 5821.


  • 46. Howson, John. A Sermon Preached at St. Maries in Oxford. Oxford: Printed by Joseph Barnes, 1603. 2nd impression. Quarto. STC 13885.
  • 48. Gardiner, Richard. A Sermon Preached at St. Maries in Oxford. 1st edition. Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, 1622. Quarto. STC 11568.
  • 49. Rawlinson, John. Quadriga Salutis. Foure Quadragesimal, or Lent-Sermons. Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and William Turner, for Elias Peerse, 1625. Quarto. Contains only “Dove-like Soul”. STC 20774.
  • 50. Pemble, William. Five Godly, and Profitable Sermons. 1st edition. Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield, 1628. Quarto. STC 19576a.
  • 52. Parsons, Bartholomew. A Sermon Preached at the Funerall of Sir Francis Pile. 1st edition. Oxford: Printed by Leonard Lichfield, for William Webb, 1636. Quarto. STC 19351.


John Jewel and John Whitgift, Hooker’s most important patrons, had preceded him in defending the Tudor constitution in the 1560s and 1570s, but their “point-by-point debates” with Thomas Harding and Thomas Cartwright, respectively, stand in contrast to “the singular originality of form of the Laws”—a style reflecting Hooker’s training as Renaissance humanist and inspiring the quip “that the Church of England was saved by a ‘good prose style.’” (Hill).

  • 40. Jewel, John. A Replie unto M. Hardinges Answeare. London: Henry Wykes, 1565. Folio. STC 14606.   
  • 41. Whitgift, John. The Defense of the Aunswere to the Admonition, against the Replie of T.C. London: Printed by Henry Binneman, for Humfrey Toye, 1574. Folio. STC 25430.
  • 47. Ussher, James. Gravissimae Quaestionis, De Christianarum Ecclesiarum, in Occidentis Praesertim Partibus. 1st edition. London: Bonham Norton, 1613. Quarto. STC 24551. Ussher’s first work is a scholarly account of medieval heretical groups, with an underlying polemical purpose of tracing the rise of the Antichrist in the Roman Catholic church (DNB).
  • 53. Certain Briefe Treatises, Written by Diverse Learned Men. Oxford: Printed by Leonard Lichfield, 1641. Quarto. Wing C1687a. Includes “A Discovery of the Causes of the Continuance of These Contentions Touching Church-Government: Out of the Fragments of Richard Hooker.”
  • 54. Walton, Isaak. The Life of Mr. Richard Hooker. 1st edition. London: Printed by J.G. for Richard Marriott, 1665. 12mo. Wing W670. Walton’s Life is faulted for reflecting personal biases that portray Hooker as excessively meek in both his marriage and his attitudes toward his Puritan antagonists.


Selected Miscellaneous Works of English Literature & History
from the Hill Collection

  • 60. Browne, Thomas. Pseudodoxia Epidemica ... together with the Religio Medici. 6th (and last) edition. London: Printed by J. R. for Nathaniel Ekins, 1672. Quarto. Wing B5165.
  • 64. Cowley, Abraham. The Works. 2 vols. “The Tenth Edition.” London: Jacob Tonson, 1707. Octavo.
  • 69. Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Thomas Newton. 2 vols. London: J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper, 1749. Quarto.
  • 70. Milton, John. Paradise Regain'd. ... Samson Agonistes: and Poems upon Several Occasions. Ed. Thomas Newton. London: J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper, 1752. Quarto.
  • 57. Ralegh, Walter. The Historie of the World. In Five Bookes. 4th edition. London: H. Lownes, G. Lathum, and R. Young, 1628. Folio. STC 20640.
  • 59. Stow, John. Annales, or, a Generall Chronicle of England…. Continued …  unto the End of This Present Yeere, 1631. By Edmund Howes. London: A. Matthewes, 1632. Folio. STC 23340.
  • 72. Herbert of Cherbury. Edward Herbert, Baron. The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Written by Himself. Ed. Horace Walpole. London: J. Dodsley, 1770. Quarto.


In celebration of this magnificent gift, made possible by the generosity of W. Speed Hill and David & Mary Neelands, an exhibition from the W. Speed Hill Collection opened in the Saunderson Rare Books Room, John W. Graham Library, October 30th, 2004.  Item numbers in the foregoing catalogue of this exhibit refer to the comprehensive Checklist of the Hill Collection. Roman numerals refer to exhibit cases in the Library.