Ch 4: Glorious Revolutions?

John Locke
First Treatise of Government

Perhaps Locke’s best-known writing, this work was a response to Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha. It attacked the very basis of defenses of absolutist monarchies. Written in exile, Locke would eventually publish the work once the Glorious Revolution ushered in an era of more tolerance for views such as Locke’s.

In the former,
The false Principles, and Foundation
Sir Robert Filmer,
And his Followers;
Detected and Overthrown,
The latter is an
Concerning The
True Original, Extent, and End
Civil Government.


Printed for Awnsham Churchill, and the Black
Swan in Ave-Mary-Lane, by Amen-
Corner, 1690.

Further Reading
  • Ashcraft, Richard. Revolutionary Politics and Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986.
  • Brewer, Holly. “Slavery, Sovereignty, and ‘Inheritable Blood’: Reconsidering John Locke and the Origins of American Slavery.” American Historical Review 122, no. 4 (2017): 1038-78.
  • Goldie, Mark. “John Locke and Anglican Royalism.” Political Studies 31, no. 1 (1983): 61-85.
  • Goldie, Mark. “John Locke’s circle and James II.” The Historical Journal 35, no. 3 (1992): 557-586.
  • Waldron, Jeremy. God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations of John Locke’s Political Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Cite this page

Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire (October 1, 2023) John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690). Retrieved from
"John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690)." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - October 1, 2023,
Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire June 12, 2023 John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690)., viewed October 1, 2023,<>
Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690). [Internet]. [Accessed October 1, 2023]. Available from:
"John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690)." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - Accessed October 1, 2023.
"John Locke’s First Treatise of Government (1690)." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire [Online]. Available: [Accessed: October 1, 2023]


[Page A3-Right]


Thou hast here the Beginning and End of a Discourse, concerning Government; what Fate has otherwise disposed of the Papers that should have filled up the middle, and were more than all the rest, ‘tis not worth while to tell thee. These, which remain, I hope are sufficient to establish the Throne of our great Restorer, Our present King William; to make good his Title, in the Consent of the People, which being the only one, of all lawful Governments, he has more fully and clearly than any Prince in Christendom. And to justifie to the World, the People of England, whose love of their just and natural Rights,

[Page A4-Left]

with their Resolution to preserve them, saved the Nation, when it was on the very brink of Slavery and Ruine. If these Papers have that evidence, I flatter my self, is to be found in them, there will be no great miss of those which are lost, and my Reader may be satisfied without them. For I imagine I shall have neither the time, nor inclination to repeat my Pains, and fill up the wanting part of my Answer, by tracing Sir Robert again, through all the Windings and Obscurities which are to be met with in the several Branches of his wonderful Systeme. The King, and Body of the Nation, have since so throughly confuted his Hypothesis, that, I suppose, no Body hereafter will have either the Confidence to appear against our common Safety, and be again an Advocate for Slavery; or the Weakness to be deceived with Contradictions dressed up in a popular Stile, and well-turn-

[Page A4-Right]

ed Periods. For if any one will be at the Pains himself, in those Parts, which are here untouched, to strip Sir Robert’s Discourses of the Flourish of doubtful Expressions, and endeavour to reduce his Words to direct, positive, intelligible Propositions, and then compare them one with another, he will quickly be satisfied, there was never so much glib Nonsense put together in well sounding English. If he think it not worth while, to examine his Works all through, let him make an Experiment in that Part where he treats of Usurpation; and let him try whether he can, with all his Skill, make Sir Robert intelligible, and consistent with himself, or common sense. I should not speak so plainly of a Gentleman, long since past answering, had not the Pulpit, of late Years, publickly owned his Doctrine, and made it the Current Divinity of the Times. ‘Tis necessary those Men,

[Page A5-Left]

who, taking on them to be Teachers, have so dangerously misled others, should be openly shewed of what Authority this their Patriarch, whom they have followed is, or ought to be; that so they may either recant what, upon so ill Grounds, they have vented, or justifie his Opinions. For I should not have writ against Sir Robert, or taken the pains to shew his Mistakes, Inconsistencies, and want of (what he so much boasts of, and pretends wholly to build on) Scripture-Proofs, were there not Men amongst us, who, by crying up his Books, and espousing his Doctrine, save me from the Reproach of writing against a dead Adversary. They have been so zealous in this Point, that if I have done him any wrong, I cannot hope they should spare me. I wish, where they have done the Truth and the Publick wrong, (there being scarce a greater mischief to Prince and People, than

[Page A5-Right]

the propagating wrong Notions concerning Government) they would be as ready to redress it. And that all times might not have reason to complain of the Drum Ecclesiastick. If any one, concerned really for Truth, undertake the Confutation of my Hypothesis, I promise him either to recant my mistake, upon fair Conviction; or to answer his difficulties. But he must remember two Things: First, That cavilling here and there, at some Expression, or little Incident of my Discourse, is not an Answer to my book. Secondly, That I shall not take Railing for Arguments, nor think either of these worth my notice. Though I shall always look on myself as bound to give satisfaction to any one, who shall appear to be conscientiously scrupulous in the point, and shall shew any just Grounds for his Scruples.

[Page A6-Left]

I have nothing more, but to advertise the Reader, that

A. stands for our Authour,

O. For his Observations on Hobbs, Milton, &c. 

and that a bare Quotation of Pages always means Pages of his Patriarcha.

[Book 1: Ch 1]

[Page 1]

Chap. I.

§. 1. SLavery1“SL” is enlarged lettering taking up four lines.  is so vile and miserable an Estate of Man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our Nation; that ‘tis hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a Gentleman, should plead for’t. And truly I should have taken this as any other Treatise, which would perswade all Men, that they are Slaves and ought to be so; for such an other exercise of Wit, as was his who writ the Encomium of Nero, rather than for a serious Discourse meant in earnest, had not the gravity of the Title and Epistle, the Picture in the Front Sr. Rbts, Book, and the applause that followed it, required me to believe that the Author and Publisher were both in earnest, I therefore took the Patriarcha of Sr. R. Filmer into my hands with all the expectation, and read it through with all the attention due to a Treatise, that made such a noise at it’s coming abroad, and can-

[Page 2]

not but confess my self mightily surprised, that in a Book which was to provide Chains for all mankind, I should find nothing but a Rope of Sand useful perhaps to such whose skill and business it is to raise a dust, and would blind the People the better to mislead them, but is not of any force to draw those into Bondage, who have their Eyes open and so much Sense about them, as to consider that Chains are but an ill wearing, how much care soever hath been taken to file and polish them.

§. 2. If any one think I take too much liberty in speaking so freely of a Man who is the great Champion of absolute Power, and the Idol of those who worship it; I beseech him to make this small allowance for once, to one, who even after the reading of Roberts Book, cannot but think himself as the Laws allow him a Freeman, and I know no fault it is to do so, unless any one better skill’d in the Fate of it than I, should have it revealed to him, that this Treatise which has lain dormant so long, was when it appeared in the World to carry by strength of its Arguments, all Liberty out of it, and that from thence forth our Authors short model was to be the pattern in the Mount and the perfect Standard of Politics for the

[Page 3]

future. His System lies in a little compass ‘tis no more but this,
That all Government is absolute Monarchy, and the ground he builds on is this,
That no Man is born free?

[Page 4]

[§. 5.] By whom this Doctrine came at first to be broach’d, and brought in fashion amongst us, and what sad Effects it gave rise to, I leave to Historians to relate or the memory of those who were Contemporaries with Sibthorp2Robert Sibthorpe (or “Sibthorp”) was a clergyman in the Church of England during James I and Charles I’s reigns. A supporter of the divine right of kings, he was rewarded by Charles I with a royal chaplaincy that was removed by the House of Lords in 1641, which was reinstated upon the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. See J. Fielding, “Sibthorpe [Sibthorp], Robert (d. 1662), Church of England clergyman,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 16 Aug. 2022. and Manwering3Roger Maynwaring (or “Manwering”) was a clergyman and Bishop of St. David’s during the reign of Charles I. In 1627, Charles ordered his sermon on the divine right of kings printed. See Vivienne Larminie, “Maynwaring [Manwaring], Roger (1589/90?–1653), bishop of St David’s,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.  to

[Page 5]

recollect my business at present, being only to consider what Sr. R. F. who is allowed to have carried this Argument farthest, and is supposed to have brought it to perfection, has said in it; For from him every one who would be as fashionable as French was at court, has learned and runs away with this short System of Politics, viz. Men are not born free, and therefore could never have the liberty to choose either Governors or Forms of Government, Princes have their Power Absolute and by Divine Right for Slaves could never have a right to Compact or Consent; Adam4Refers to Adam from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Filmer sources the origin of monarchical power in the powers granted to Adam by God. Throughout the treatises, but particularly in the first, Locke refers to Bible verses (King James version) to examine Filmer’s arguments and refute them. was an absolute Monarch, and so are all Princes ever since.

[Book 1: Ch 2]

[Page 6]

Of Paternal and Regal Power.

[Page 12]

§. 9. I have been fain to trouble my Reader with these several Quotations in our A—s5Author’s. Throughout the treatise, Locke substitutes “Author” and variations thereof with the first letter (A) and a series of dashes following. Approximate recreations have been made here. “Authors” refers to Sir Robert Filmer. own words that in them might be seen his own Description of his Fatherly Authority, as it lies scatter’d up and down in his Writings, which he supposes was first vested in Adam, and by Right, belongs to all Princes ever since. This Fatherly Authority then or Right of fFtherhood, in our A—s sense is a Divine unalterable Right of Sovereignty, whereby a Father or a Prince, hath an Absolute Arbitrary unlimited and unlimitable Power, over the Lives, Libertys, and Estates of his Children or Subjects, so that he may take or alienate their Estates, sell, castrate, or use their Persons as he pleases, they being all his slaves, and he Lord and Proprietor of every thing, and his unbounded Will their Law.

[Page 13]

§. 11. The sovereignty of Adam, being that on which as a sure basis, our A– builds

[Page 14]

his Mighty Absolute Monarchy, I expected that in his Patriarcha, this his main supposition would have been proved and established, with all that evidence of Arguments, that such a Fundamental Tenet required, and that this on which the great stress of the business depends, would have been made out with reasons sufficient to justifie the confidence, with which it was assumed. But in all that Treatise, I could find very little tending that way; the thing is there so taken for granted without Proof, that I could scarce believe my self, when upon attentive Reading that Treatise, I found there so mighty a Structure, rais’d upon the bare supposition of this Foundation; for it is scarce credible, that in a Discourse where he pretends to confute the Erroneous Principle of Mans Natural Freedom, he does it by a bare supposition of Adams Authority, without offering any Proof for that Authority. Indeed he confidently says, that Adam had Royal Authority. p. 12, and 13. Absolute Lordship and Dominion of life and death, p. 13. An Universal Monarchy, p. 33. Absolute Power of life and death, p. 35. He is very frequent in such Assertions, but what is strange in all his whole Patriarcha, I find not one pretence of a reason, to Establish this great Foundation of Government; not

[Page 15]

any thing that looks like an Argument, but these words; To confirm this Natural Right of Regal Power, we find in the Decalogue, that the Law which injoyns Obedience to Kings, is delivered in the Terms, Honour thy father, as if all Power were Originally in the Father. And why may I not add as well, that in the Decalogue, the Law that injoyns obedience to Queens, is delivered in the Terms of Honour thy Mother, as if all Power were Originally in the mother? The Argument as Sr. Rob. puts it, will hold as well for one as the other, but of this more in its due place.

[Page 16]

§. 13. If he has in that Chapter, or any where in the whole Treatise, given any other Proofs of Adams Royal Authority, other then by often repeating it, which among some Men goes for Argument, I desire any body for him to shew me the Place and Page, that I may be convinced of my mistake, and acknowledge my oversight. If no such Arguments are to be found, I beseech those Men, who have so much cryed up this Book, to consider whether they do not give the World cause to suspect, that ‘tis not the Force of Reason and Argument, that makes them for Absolute Monarchy, but some other by interest, and therefore are resolved to applaud any Author, that writes in Favour of this Doctrin, whether he support it with reason or no. But I hope they do not expect that rational and indifferent Men should be brought over to their Opinion, because this their great Dr. of it, in a Discourse made on purpose, to set up the Absolute Monarchical Power of Adam, in opposition to the Natural Freedom of Mankind, has said so little to prove it, from

[Page 17]

whence it is rather naturally to be concluded, that there is little to be said.

[Book 1: Ch 3]

[Page 18]


Of Adams Title to Sovereignty by Creation. 

§. 15. SIR his Preface to his Observations on Aristotle’s Politics tells us, A Natural Freedom of Mankind cannot be supposed without the denial of the Creation ofAdam; but how Adams being Created, which was nothing but his receiving a Being immediately from Omnipotency, and the hand of God, gave Adam a Sovereignty over any thing, I cannot see, nor consequently understand how a Supposition of natural Freedom is a denial of Adams Creation, and would be glad any body else (since our A— did not vouchsafe us the favour) would make it out for him: for I find no difficulty to suppose the Freedom of Mankind, though I have always believed the Creation of Adam. He was created or began to exist by Gods imme-

[Page 19]

diate Power, without the Intervention of Parents or the pre existence of any of the same Species to beget him, when it pleased God he should, and so did the Lyon, the King of Beasts before him, by the same Creating Power of God, and if bare existence by that Power, and in that way, will give Dominion without any more adoe, our A— by this Argument will make the Lion have as good a Title to it as he, and certainly the Ancienter. No! for Adam had his title by the appointment of God, says our A- in another place. Then bare Creation gave him not Dominion, and one might have supposed Mankind Free without denying the Creation of Adam, since ‘twas Gods Appointment made him Monarch.

§. 16. But let us see how he puts hisCreationand this Appointment together. By the appointment of God, says Sir Rbt. as soon as Adam was Created he was Monarch of the World, though he had no Subjects, for though there could not be actual Government till there were Subjects, yet by the Right of Nature it was due to Adam to be Governor of his Posterity, though not in act, yet at least in habit, Adam was a King from his Creation, I wish he had told us here what he meant by Gods appointment. For whatsoever Providence orders, or the Law of 

[Page 20]

Nature directs, or positive Revelation declares, may be said to be by Gods appointment, but I suppose it cannot be meant here in the first Sense, i.e. by providence; because that would be to say no more, but that as soon as Adam was Created he was de facto Monarch, because by Right of Nature it was due to Adam, to be Governour of his Posterity. But he could not de facto be by providence Constituted the Governour of the World at a time, when there was actually no Government, no Subjects to be governed, which our A– here confesses. Monarch of the World is also differently used by our Author, for sometimes he means by it a Proprietor of all the World exclusive of the rest of Mankind, and thus he does in the same page of his Preface before cited, Adam says he being Commanded to Multiply and People the Earth and to subdue it, and having Dominion given him over all Creatures, was thereby the Monarch of the whole World, none of his Posterity had any Right to possess any thing but by his Grant or Permission or by Succession from him. 2. Let us understand then by Monarch Proprietor of the World, and by Appointment Gods actual Donation, and revealed positive Grant made to Adam, I. Gen. 28. as we see Sir Robt. himself does in this parallel place, and then his Argu-

[Page 21]

ment will stand thus, by the positive Grant of God: As soon as Adam was Created, he was Proprietor of the World, because by the Right of Nature it was due to Adam to be Governor of his Posterity, in which way of arguing there are two manifest Falsehoods. First, it is false that God made that Grant to Adam, as soon as he was Created, since though it stands in the Text immediately after his Creation, yet it is plain it could not be spoken to Adam till after Eve was made and brought to him, and how then could he be Monarch by appointment as soon as Created, especially since he calls, if I mistake not, that which God says to Eve, 3 Gen. 16, The original Grant of Government, which not being till after the fall, when Adam was somewhat, at least in time and very much distant in condition, from his Creation, I cannot see, how our A can say in this Sense, that by Gods appointment as soon as Adam was Created he was Monarch of the World. Secondly, were it true that Gods actual Donation appointed Adam Monarch of the World as soon as he was Created, yet the Reason here given for it would not prove it, but it would always be a false Inference that God by a positive Donation appointed Adam Monarch of the World, because by Right of Nature it was due to Adam to 

[Page 22]

be Governor of his Posterity; for having given him the Right of Government by Nature, there was no need of a positive Donation, at least it will never be a proof of such a Donation.

§. 17. On the other side the Matter will not be much mended, if we understand by Gods appointmentthe Law of Nature, (though it be a pretty harsh Expression for it, in this place) and by Monarch of the World,Sovereign Ruler of Mankind; for then the Sentence under consideration must run thus. By the Law of Nature, as soon as Adam was Created he was Governour of Mankind, for by Right of Nature it was due to Adam to be Governour of his Posterity, which amounts to this, he was Governour by Right of Nature, because he was Governour by Right of Nature; But supposing we should grant that a Man is by Nature Governour of his children, Adam could not hereby be Monarch as soon as Created, for this Right of Nature being founded in his being their Father, how Adam could have a Natural Right to be Governour before he was a Father, by which only he had that Right, is, methinks, hard to conceive unless he will have him to be a Father before he was a Father, and to have a Title before he had it.

[Page 25]

§. 20. I fear I have tired my Readers Patience by dwelling longer on this passage than the weightiness of any Argument in it, seems to require: but I have unavoidably been ingag’d in it by our A-s way of Writing, who hudling several Suppositions together, and that in doubtful and general terms makes such a medly and confusion, that it is impossible to shew his Mistakes, without examining the several Senses, wherein his Words may be taken, and without seeing how in any of these various Meanings, they will consist together, and have any Truth in them; for in this present passage before us, how can any one argue against this Position of his, that Adam was a King from his Creation,unless one examin whether the Words,from his Creation,be to be taken as they may for the time of the Commencement of his Government as the foregoing words import, as soon as he was Created he was Monarch, or for the cause of it, as he says, p. 11. Creation made Man Prince of his Posterity. How farther can one judge of the truth of his being thus King, till one has examined whether King be to be taken, as the words in the beginning of this passage would perswade, on supposition of his Pri-

[Page 26]

vate Dominion, which was by Gods positive Grant, Monarch of the World by Appointment; or King on Supposition of his Fatherly Power over his Off spring which was by Nature, due by the Right of Nature; whether, I say King be to be taken in both, or one only of these two Senses or in neither of them, but only this, that Creation made him Prince in a way different from both the other; for though this assertion, that Adam was King from his Creation be true, in no Sense yet it stands here as an evident conclusion drawn from the preceding words, though in truth it be but a bare assertion joyn’d to other assertions of the same kind, which confidently put together in words of undetermined and dubious meaning, look like a sort of arguing, when there is indeed neither Proof nor Connection: A way very familiar with our A- of which having given the Reader a taste, here, I shall as much as the Argument will permit me, avoid touching on hereafter, and should not have done it here, were it not to let the World see how Incoherences in Matter and Suppositions, without Proofs put handsomely together in good Words and a plausible Stile, are apt to pass for strong Reason and good Sense, till they come to be look’d into with Attention.

[Book 1: Ch 6]

[Page 64]


Of Adams Title to Sovereignty by Fatherhood.

[Page 65]

§. 51. Grotiustells us not here how far this jus in liberos,6Right to children. this Power of Parents over their Children extends, but our A- always very clear in the point assures us, ‘tis Supreme Power, and like that of Absolute Monarchs over their Slaves, Absolute Power of Life and Death: He that should demand of him how, or for what Reason, it is, that begetting a Child gives the Father such an Absolute Power over him, will find him answer nothing, we are to take his word for this as well as several other things, and by that the Laws of Nature and the Constitutions of Government must stand or fall; Had he been an Absolute Monarch, this way of talking might have suited well enough, pro ratione voluntas,7For reason the will. may there be allowed: But ‘tis but an ill way of pleading for 

[Page 66]

Absolute Monarchy, and Sr. Robts. bare Sayings will scarce Establish it, one slaves Opinion without proof is not of weight enough to dispose of the Liberty and Fortunes of all Mankind; If all Men are not as I think they are naturally equal, I’m sure all Slaves are, and then I may without presumption oppose my single Opinion to his, and be as confident that my Saying, that begetting of Children makes them not Slaves to their Fathers, sets all Mankind Free, as his affirming the contrary makes them all Slaves. But that this position, which is the Foundation of all their Doctrin, who would have Monarchy to be Jure divino,8By divine right. may have all fair play, let us hear what reasons others give for it, since our A– offers none.

[Page 81]

§. 64. By our A–s Doctrin, the Father having Absolute jurisdiction over his Children, has also the same over their Issue, and the consequence is good, were it true, that the Father had such a Power, and yet I ask our A– whether the Grand-father by his Sovereignty, could discharge the Grand-Child from Paying to his Father, the honour due to him by the 5th Commandment;9The 5th Commandment refers to the Old Testament biblical story of the 10 Commandments, received by Moses from God. The 5th Commandment instructs the honoring of fathers and mothers by their children. If the Grand-Father, hath by right of Fatherhood, Sole Sovereign Power in him, and by Honour thy Father be commanded, that Obedience which is due to the Sovereign, ‘tis certain the Grand-Father might dispense with the Grand-Sons Honour his Father, which since ‘tis evident in common Sense, he cannot ‘tis evident Honour thy Father and Mother, cannot mean an Absolute Subjection to a Sovereign Power, but something else. The right therefore which Parents have by nature, and which is confirmed to them by the 5th Commandment, cannot be that Political Dominion, which our A– would derive from it, for that being in every civil Society, Supream somewhere, can discharge any Subject, from any Political Obedience, to any one of his fellow Subjects. But what Law of the Magistrate, can give a Child liberty, not to Honour his Father and Mother;’tis an eternal Law, annex’d purely to 

[Page 82]

the relation of Parents and Children, and so contains nothing of the Magistrates Power in it, nor is Subjected to it.

[Page 83]

§. 66. The Law that enjoyns Obedience to Kings is delivered,says our A–, in the Terms, Honour thy Father, as if all Power were Originally in the Father,O. 254. And that Law is also delivered, say I, in the Terms, Honour thy Mother, as if all Power were Originally in the Mother. I appeal whether the Argument be not as good on one side as the other, Father and Mother being joyned all along in the Old and New Testament, where Honour or Obedience is injoyn’d Children, again

[Page 84]

our A– tells us, O. 254.10Observations, 254. that this command Honour thy Father gives the right to govern, and makes the Form of Government Monarchical. To which I answer, that, if by Honour thy Father, be meant Obedience to the Political Power of the Magistrate, it concerns not any duty we owe to our Natural Fathers who are Subjects, because they by our A–s Doctrin, are divested of all that Power, it being placed wholly in the Prince, and so being equally Subjects and Slaves with their Children, can have no right by that Title, to any such Honour or Obedience as contains in it Political Subjection; if Honour thy Father and Mother signifies the duty we owe our Natural Parents, as by our Saviours Interpretation, Math. 15. 4. and all the other mention’d places, ’tis plain it does, then it cannot concern Political Obedience, but a duty that is owing to Persons, who have no Title to Sovereignty, nor any Political Authority, as Magistrates over Subjects, for the Person of a private Father, and a Title to Obedience, due to the Supream Magistrate, are things inconsistent, and therefore this command, which must necessarily comprehend the Persons of our Natural Fathers, must mean a duty we owe them distinct from our Obedience to the Ma-

[Page 85]

gistrate, and from which the most Absolute Power of Princes cannot absolve us, what this duty is, we shall in its due place examin.

[Page 89]

§. 69. But that he means here Paternal Power, and no other, is past doubt from the Inference he makes in these words immediately following, I see not then how the Children ofAdam or of any Man else can be free from Subjection to their Parents,whereby it appears that the Power on one side and the Subjection on the other, our A– here speaks of, is that Natural Power and subjection between Parents and Children; for that which every Mans Children owed could be no other, and that our A– always affirms to be absolute and unlimited. This natural Power of Parents over their Children, Adam had over his Posterity, says our A–, and this Power of Parents over their Children, his Children had over theirs in his Life time, says our A– also; so that Adam by a natural Right of Father, had an absolute, unlimited Power over all his Posterity, and at the same time his Children had by the same Right absolute unlimited Power over theirs, here then are two absolute unlimited Powers existing together, which I would have any body reconcile one to another, or to common Sense; for the Salvo,

[Page 90]

he has put in of Subordination, makes it more absurd: to have one Absolute, Unlimited, nay Unlimitable Power in Subordination to another, is so manifest a Contradiction, that nothing can be more, Adam is Absolute Prince with the Unlimited Authority of Fatherhood over all his Posterity; All his Posterity are then absolutely his Subjects, and, as our A– says, his Slaves, Children and Grand Children are equally in this State of Subjection and Slavery, and yet says our A–the Children of Adam have paternal, i.e. Absolute, Unlimited Power over their own Children, which in plain English is, they are Slaves and Absolute Princes at the same time, and in the same Government, and one part of the Subjects have an Absolute Unlimited Power over the other by the natural Right of Parentage.

[Book 1: Ch 9]

[Page 107]


Of Monarchy, by Inheritance from Adam.

[Page 124]

§. 96. If Paternal Right,the Act of Begetting,give a Man Rule and Dominion, Inheritance or Primogeniture can give no Title; for he that cannot succeed to his Fathers Title, which was Begetting, cannot succeed to that Power over his Brethren, which his Father had by Paternal Right over them, but I shall have more to say on this by and by. This is plain in the mean time, that any Government whether supposed to be, at first founded in Paternal Right, Consent of the People, or the Positive Appointment of God himself, which can supersede either of the other, and so begin a new Government upon a new Foundation, I say, any Government began upon either of these, can by Right of Succession come to those only, who have the Title of him, they succeed to. Power founded on Contract, can descend only to him, who has Right by that Contract, Power founded on Begetting, he only can have that Begets, and Power founded on the positive Grant or Donation of God, he only can have by Right of Succession, to whom that Grant directs it.

[Book 1: Ch 11]

[Page 136]



[Page 165]

§. 129. Our A– to make good the Title of his Book, p. 13. begins his History of the descent of Adams Regal Power, p. 13. In these words: This Lordship, which Adam by Command had over the whole World, and by Right descending from him, the Patriarchs did enjoy was a large,&c. How 

[Page 166]

does he prove that the Patriarchs by descent did enjoy it? for Dominion of Life and Death, says he, we find Judah the Father pronounced Sentence of Death against Thamar his Daughter-in Law for playing the Harlot, p. 13. How does this prove that Judah had Absolute and Sovereign Authority, He pronounced Sentence of Death? The pronouncing of Sentence of Death is not a certain mark of Sovereignty, but usually the Office of Inferior Magistrates. The Power of making Laws of Life and Death is indeed a mark of Sovereignty, but pronouncing the Sentence according to those Laws may be done by others, and therefore this will but ill prove that he had Sovereign Authority, as if one should say, Judge Jefferies, pronounced Sentence of Death in the late Times, therefore Judge Jefferies, had Sovereign Authority: But it will be said, Judah did it not by Commission from another, and therefore did it in his own Right. Who knows whether he had any Right at all, heat of Passion might carry him to do that which he had no Authority to do. Judah had Dominion of Life and Death, how does that appear? he exercised it, he pronounced Sentence of Death against Thamar, our A– thinks it is very good Proof, that because he did it, therefore he 

[Page 167]

had a Right to do it; He lay with her also: By the same way of Proof, he had a Right to do that too, if the consequence be good from doing to a Right of doing, Absalon too may be reckon’d amongst our A-s Sovereigns,for he pronounced such a Sentence of Death against his Brother Amnon, and much upon a like occasion, and had it executed too; if that be sufficient to prove a Dominion of Life and Death.

But allowing this all to be clear Demonstration of Sovereign Power, who was it that had this Lordship by Right descending to him from Adam, as large and ample as the absolutest Dominion of any Monarch? Judah, says our A-Judah a younger Son of Jacob, his Father and Elder Brethren living, so that if our A–s own Proof be to be taken, a younger Brother may in the Life of his Father and Elder Brothers, by Right of descent, enjoy Adams Monarchical Power, and if one so qualified may be Monarch by descent, I know not why every Man may not, and if Judah, his Father and Elder Brother living were one of Adams Heirs, I know not who can be excluded from this Inheritance, all Men by Inheritance may be Monarchs as well as Judah.

[Page 168]

§. 130. Touching War, we see that Abraham Commanded an Army of 318. Soldiers of his own Family, and Esaumet his Brother Jacob with 400 Men at Armes; For matter of Peace;, Abraham made a League with Abimelech, &c. p. 13. Is it not possible for a Man to have 318. Men in his Family, without being Heir to Adam? A Planter in the West-Indies has more and might if he pleased (who doubts) Muster them up and lead them out against the Indians, to seek Reparation upon any Injury received from them, and all this without the Absolute Dominion of a Monarch, descending to him from Adam. Would it not be an admirable Argument to prove, that all Power by Gods Institution descended from Adam by Inheritance, and that the very Person and Power of this Planter were the Ordinance of God, because he had Power in his Family over Servants, born in his House, and bought with his Money; For this was Just Abrahams Case; Those who were Rich in the Patriarchs Days, as in the West-Indies now, bought Men and Maid Servants, and by their increase as well as purchasing of new, came to have large and numerous Families, which though they made use of in War or Peace, can it be thought the Power they had over them was an 

[Page 169]

Inheritance descended from Adam, when ‘twas the Purchase of their Money? A Mans Riding in an expedition against an Enemy, his Horse bought in a Fair would be as good a Proof that the owner enjoy’d the Lordship which Adam by Command had over the whole World, by Right descending to him, as Abrahams leading out the Servants of his Family, is that the Patriarchs enjoy’d this Lordship by descent from Adam since the Title to the Power, the Master had in both Cases, whether over Slaves or Horses, was only from his purchase; and the getting a Dominion over any thing by Bargain, and Money is a new way of proving one had it by Descent and Inheritance.

§. 131. But making War and Peace are marks of Sovereignty;Let it be so in Politic Socities; may not therefore a Man in the West Indieswho hath with him Sons of his own Friends, or Companions, Souldiers under Pay, or Slaves bought with Money, or perhaps a Band made up of all these, make War and Peace, if there should be occasion, and ratifie the articles too with an Oath, without being a Sovereign, an Absolute King over those who went with him; he that says he cannot, must then allow many Masters of Ships, many Private Planters to be Absolute Monarchs, 

[Page 170]

for as much as this they have done, War and Peace cannot be made for Politic Societies, but by the Supream Power of such Societies, because War or Peace, giving a different Motion to the force of such a Politic Body, none can make War or Peace, but that which has the direction of the force of the whole body, and that in Politic Societies is only the Supream Power. In voluntary Societies for the time, he that has such a Power by consent, may make War and Peace, and so may a single Man for himself, the State of War not consisting in the number of Partysans, but the enmity of the Parties, where they have no Superior to Appeal to.

[Page 186]

§. 146. For I demand when Mankind were all yet of one Language, all congregated in the plain of Shinar,were they then all under one Monarch, who enjoyed the Lordship ofAdam by right descending to him? If they were not, there was then no thoughts, ‘tis plain, of AdamHeir, no right to Government known then upon that Title, no care taken by God or Man, of AdamFatherly Authority: If when Mankind were but one People, dwelt all together, and were of one Language, and were upon Building a City together, and when ‘twas plain, they could not but know the Right Heir, for Shem lived till Isaacs time, a long while after the Division at Babel; If then, I say, they were not under the Monarchical Government of Adams Fatherhood, by right descending to the Heir, ‘tis plain there was no regard had to the Fatherhood, no Monarchy acknowledg’d due to Adams Heir, no Empire of Shems in Asia, and consequently no such Division of the World by Noah, 

[Page 187]

as our A– has talked of. As far as we can conclude any thing from Scripture in this matter, it seems from this place, that if they had any Government, it was rather a Common wealth than an Absolute Monarchy; For the Scripture tells us, Gen. II. they said, ’twas not a Prince commanded, the Building of this City and Tower, ‘twas not by the command of one Monarch, but by the consultation of many, a Free People, let us build us a City; They built it for themselves as Free-men, not as Slaves for their Lord and Master, that we be not scattered abroad, having a City once built, and fixed Habitations to settle their Bodies and Families. This was the consultation and design of a People, that were at liberty to part asunder, but desired to keep in one Body, and could not have been either necessary or likely in Men tyed together under the Government of one Monarch, who if they had been, as our A– tells us, all Slaves under the Absolute Dominion of a Monarch, needed not have taken such care to hinder themselves, from wandering out of the reach of his Dominion. I demand whether this be not plainer in Scripture than any thing of Adams Heir or Fatherly Authority.

[Page 198]

§. 154. And methinks he should have let Homerand his Wars of Troyalone, since his great Zeal to Truth or Monarchy car-

[Page 199]

ried him, to such a pitch of transport against Philosophers and Poets, that he tells us in his Preface, that there are too many in these days, who please themselves in running after the Opinions of Philosophers and Poets, to find out such an Original of Government, as might promise them some Title to Liberty, to the great Scandal of Christianity, and bringing in of Atheism. And yet these Heathen Philosophers, Aristotle and Poet Homer, are not rejected by our zealous Christian Politician when ever they offer any thing that seems to serve his turn.

But to return to his Scripture History, our A– farther tells us, p. 18. that after the return of the israelites out of Bondage, God out of a special care of them, chose Moses and Joshua Successively to Govern as Princes in the place and stead of the Supream Fathers. If it be true, that they returned out of Bondage, it must be into a State of Freedom and must imply, that both before and after this Bondage they were Free, unless our A– will say, that changing of Masters, is returning out of Bondage, or that a Slave returns out of Bondage, when he is removed from one Gally to another: If then they returned out of Bondage, ’tis plain that in those days, whatever our A- in his Preface says to the contrary, there was difference between a Son, a Subject, and a Slave; and 

[Page 200]

that neither the Patriarchs before, nor their Rulers after this Egyptian Bondage, numbered their Sons or Subjects amongst their Possessions, and disposed of them with as Absolute a Dominion, as they did their other Goods.

  • 1
    “SL” is enlarged lettering taking up four lines.
  • 2
    Robert Sibthorpe (or “Sibthorp”) was a clergyman in the Church of England during James I and Charles I’s reigns. A supporter of the divine right of kings, he was rewarded by Charles I with a royal chaplaincy that was removed by the House of Lords in 1641, which was reinstated upon the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. See J. Fielding, “Sibthorpe [Sibthorp], Robert (d. 1662), Church of England clergyman,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.
  • 3
    Roger Maynwaring (or “Manwering”) was a clergyman and Bishop of St. David’s during the reign of Charles I. In 1627, Charles ordered his sermon on the divine right of kings printed. See Vivienne Larminie, “Maynwaring [Manwaring], Roger (1589/90?–1653), bishop of St David’s,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.
  • 4
    Refers to Adam from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Filmer sources the origin of monarchical power in the powers granted to Adam by God. Throughout the treatises, but particularly in the first, Locke refers to Bible verses (King James version) to examine Filmer’s arguments and refute them.
  • 5
    Author’s. Throughout the treatise, Locke substitutes “Author” and variations thereof with the first letter (A) and a series of dashes following. Approximate recreations have been made here. “Authors” refers to Sir Robert Filmer.
  • 6
    Right to children.
  • 7
    For reason the will.
  • 8
    By divine right.
  • 9
    The 5th Commandment refers to the Old Testament biblical story of the 10 Commandments, received by Moses from God. The 5th Commandment instructs the honoring of fathers and mothers by their children.
  • 10
    Observations, 254.