John Selden

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Selden, John,

1584–1654, English jurist and scholar. He studied at Oxford, was called to the bar in 1612, and was elected to Parliament in 1623. He had already assisted in preparing the protestation of Commons in 1621, asserting to King James I Parliament's rights in the affairs of state, and he had briefly been held in custody as a result. He continued to support the rights of Parliament in its struggle with the crown, was prominent in the trial of George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham, and helped to draw up the Petition of Right in 1628. For his activity in the recalcitrant Parliament of 1629 he was imprisoned and was not released until 1631. He represented the Univ. of Oxford in the Long Parliament from 1640 to 1649. Selden was considered one of the most erudite men of his time. His England's Epinomis and Jani Anglorum (1610) established him as the father of legal antiquarianism. The preface to his edition of the Fleta (1647) summarizes his lifelong study in the origins of British law. Selden's reputation as an Orientalist was begun with his De Diis Syris (1617), and he prepared a number of studies of rabbinical law. His History of Tithes (1618) involved him in a conflict with the clergy, and the work was suppressed. Among his other works is Mare Clausum (1635), a defense of England's right to sovereignty over the seas between that country and the Continent, written in response to Hugo Grotius's Mare Liberum. He is popularly best remembered for the record of his conversations kept by his secretary, Richard Milward, and published as Table Talk (1689, ed. by Frederick Pollock, 1927).


See G. W. Johnson, Memoirs of John Selden (10 vol., 1883–84).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Selden, John


Born Dec. 16, 1584, in Salvington, county of Sussex; died Nov. 30, 1654, in London. English political figure, jurist, antiquarian, and historian.

In 1623, Selden was elected to Parliament, where he joined the antiabsolutist opposition; in 1629 he was arrested along with other parliamentary leaders and was imprisoned until 1631. During the Long Parliament, he was affiliated with the Presbyterians. His main works dealt with the history of England and the history of law among Eastern peoples. He was the author of the treatise Mare clausum (1635), directed against the principle of freedom of the seas that had been developed by Hugo Grotius. He is known in the history of English literature as the author of Table Talk, published in 1689.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Continue reading "'Rabbi' John Selden and the Restoration of the Jews to England" at...
A second major infuence on his life and thought was his deep friendship with John Selden, with whom he became close friends in the late 1630s.
Toomer, John Selden: A Life in Scholarship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 313-14 (my thanks to Will Poole for this reference).
Chapter One, "Polytheism and 'truest Poesie,'" considers John Selden, historian and mythographer of the gods, whose De diis Syris syntagmata (1617) was a major source of descriptive information that poets used in trying to stay true to monotheism.
In this capacity, Butler served the Countess of Kent in Bedfordshire, the lawyer John Selden and Sir Samuel Luke.
Using the works of Henry Spelman and John Selden, the author shows how the English feudal narrative developed in and around a colonial discourse.
Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi: John Selden, by Jason P.
In an essay that, like Turner's, shows the importance of the divorce tracts as part of Milton's toleration work, Rosenblatt investigates the ways in which Milton's ideas derive from his knowledge of natural law theorists, particularly Hugo Grotius and John Selden (132).
Wilcher's range of comparisons runs from Donne to Henry King and his brother William, to Sir John Mennes, to William Cartwright and James Shirley, as well as the hint of possible relations to Falkland and the Great Tew Circle, and John Selden and the literary circle gathered around the seventh Earl of Kent and his Countess, Elizabeth, at Wrest (though the sketchy evidence for these more serious intellectual connections again suggests Suckling's marginal status).
John Selden is best known for his competence in an impressive range of ancient and modern languages and for the breadth of his learning in such fields as the history of tithes and titles of honour, the English constitution, and common law.
These are the kinds of "authoritative" documents that antiquarians such as John Dee, Edward Coke, and John Selden gloried in citing to substantiate their accounts of England's past.