Scholarly discovery of hidden Locke manuscript in US library

Recently discovered John Locke manuscript

Christ’s Plumb Fellow, Dr Felix Waldmann, has worked alongside independent scholar J.C. Walmsley on a “once in a generation” discovery and analysis of a previously unseen centuries-old manuscript by John Locke.  Entitled “Reasons for tolerateing Papists equally with others” and dated to 1667-8, the manuscript presents a previously unthinkable viewpoint from Locke.  The manuscript essentially consists of two lists: the first, a set of reasons for tolerating Catholics, which at the time simply meant not actively persecuting the group, and the second a list of reasons not to (which is his much wider-known opinion).


According to Walmsley, the manuscript is directly connected to Locke’s ‘Essay concerning Toleration’, and, he says “was most likely its immediate antecedent and inspiration.”


“The early drafts of the Essay read like successively more elaborate treatments of questions raised in the Reasons, and parts of the Reasons re-appear in later drafts of the Essay. The Essay was Locke’s first mature formulation of the views that would be immensely important,” Walmsley adds. “When repeated in the Letters on Toleration, these arguments would indelibly inform Western liberal thinking in general and the U.S. Constitution in particular.”


Read the full article here:


The Guardian commented on the scholarly find:


The discovery was also reported in the Wall Street Journal: