John Locke memorial


On the east wall of the south transept is a slate memorial to John Locke (1632-1704), the great philosopher, who was a friend of Mr. Edward Clarke of Chipley Park, Nynehead. John Locke lived with the Clarke family for some time and wrote some of his articles.

The inscription on the above memorial reads:

A little booke and taper's light
Did solace mee in my last night;
My taper spent, booke clos'd I sate
In bed thereon to meditate:
With what improvement thinke I knowe
Then volumes, more or sunne can showe.

John Locke (b. August 29, 1632 d. October 28, 1704) was an influential English philosopher. In epistemology, Locke has often been classified as a British Empiricist, along with David Hume and George Berkeley. He is equally important as a social contract theorist, as he developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and argued a government could only be legitimate if it received the consent of the governed through a social contract and protected the natural rights of life, liberty, and estate. If such consent was not given, argued Locke, citizens had a right of rebellion. Locke is one of the few major philosophers who became a minister of government.

Locke's ideas had an enormous influence on the development of political philosophy, and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and contributors to liberal theory. His writings, along with those of the writings of many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, influenced the American revolutionaries as reflected in the American Declaration of Independence.

There is a great deal about Locke on the internet! A good place to start is where I did - Wikepedia, but maybe he is best summed up in the words of his own epitaph;

Stop, Traveller! Near this place lieth John Locke. If you ask what kind of a man he was, he answers that he lived content with his own small fortune. Bred a scholar, he made his learning subservient only to the cause of truth. This thou will learn from his writings, which will show thee everything else concerning him, with greater truth, than the suspect praises of an epitaph. His virtues, indeed, if he had any, were too little for him to propose as matter of praise to himself, or as an example to thee. Let his vices be buried together. As to an example of manners, if you seek that, you have it in the Gospels; of vices, to wish you have one nowhere; if mortality, certainly, (and may it profit thee), thou hast one here and everywhere.

Among his major works are;

  • (1689) A Letter Concerning Toleration
    • (1690) A Second Letter Concerning Toleration
    • (1692) A Third Letter for Toleration
  • (1689) Two Treatises of Government
  • (1689) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • (1693) Some Thoughts Concerning Education
  • (1695) The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures
    • (1695) A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity