London: Printed by G. Larkin, for Benjamin Harris, at the Stationers Arms and Anchor in the Piazza under the Royal-Exchange, [1682?]. 12mo. , 228 pp, as issued. Bound in 19th century quarter vellum and pale blue boards [front hinge starting, some spine wear]. One tear at leaf 35-36, costing several letters. Very Good.
This is the rare first edition; ESTC records none earlier. It prints the Magna Charta, Notes on Magna Charta ["This Excellent Law holds the first place in our Statute Books"], "A Confirmation of the Charters of the Liberties of England," other fundamental documents supporting trial by jury, liberty of conscience, and the foundations of individual rights and limited government.
'English Liberties' "drew from the radical reading of Magna Carta to defend the personal freedom of freeborn Englishmen. Building on the authority of the Great Charter, this work defended trial by jury and established the persisting legal freedoms based on Magna Carta. Care's work was condemned as seditious by the authorities but it was repeatedly reproduced into the 18th century, being regarded as a handbook of civil liberties. Editions were also produced in the American colonies at Boston and Providence between 1721 and 1774..." [online site of the British Library]. 'English Liberties' transmitted "fundamental laws and the rights and liberties of Englishmen to eighteenth-century England and the American colonies," where its influence was substantial. "Indeed, one scholar suggested some thirty years ago that 'English Liberties' had more to do with preparing the minds of American colonists for the American Revolution than the larger but less accessible works of Coke, Sidney, and Locke." [Lois Schwoerer, THE INGENIOUS MR. HENRY CARE, RESTORATION PUBLICIST. (2001). Page xxvi, 235. Internal quotations omitted].
Benjamin Harris, for whom this book was published, was an interesting man in his own right. A London radical and noisy anti-Catholic, he was convicted of sedition when he opposed the succession of James, Duke of York. In 1686 he immigrated to Boston, opened a coffee-house, and continued his trade. NAIP records 66 publications mentioning his name in the imprint [the earliest an Almanac, likely from 1686]. "His newspaper, 'Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick' (Sept. 25, 1690), the first newspaper printed in the colonies, was suppressed by Boston authorities after one issue. Sometime before 1690 Harris published 'The New-England Primer', adapted from his earlier, savagely political speller, 'The Protestant Tutor' (1679); the primer was for half a century the only elementary textbook in America. He returned to London in 1695" [Encyclopedia Britannica].
FIRST EDITION. Wing C515. ESTC R31286. I Harv. Law Cat. 335 [later printings]. Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution 44. Marvin 173 [later printings]. Item #33968