Richard Hooker



The Whole Works of the Most Rev. James Ussher, Vols 1-14 ed. Charles Richard Elrington; Vols 15-17, ed James H. Todd (Dublin, 1847-64).

Folger edition

The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, general editor W. Speed Hill (Cambridge. Mass, & London):

Volume I: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Books I-IV, ed. George Edelen (1977). Volume II: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Book V, ed. W. Speed Hill (1977). Volume III: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Books VI, VII, VIII, ed. P.G. Stanwood (1981). Volume IV: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: Attack and Response, ed. John E. Booty (1982). Volume V: Tractates and Sermons, ed. Laetitia Yeandle and Egil Grislis (1990). Volume VI, Part 1: Introduction, Commentary, Prefaces Books I-IV, ed. W. Speed Hill, Egil Grislis et al. (1993). Volume VI, Part 2: Introductions; Commentaries Books V-VIII (1993). Volume VII: Index, ed. W. Speed Hill and Thane Doss (1998).


The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker, ed. John Keble [first published 1836], 7th edition revised by R.W. Church and F. Paget, 3 vols (Oxford, 1888).


Autograph Manuscripts and Principal Manuscript Copies

Several autograph manuscripts of Hooker have survived. Perhaps the most important are, first, the printer's copy of Book V of the Ecclesiastical Polity containing Hooker's autograph additions (*HkR 10) and, secondly, twenty-seven pages of autograph notes for the Polity (*HkR 8). An autograph draft of part of the Sermon on Pride (*HkR 6) and a scribal copy of the Sermon of the Certainty and Perpetuity of Faith in the Elect containing autograph additions (*HkR 23) are extant; so also is Hooker's annotated printed exemplum of the anonymous Christian Letter, a pamphlet attacking his doctrine (*HkR 53).

In view of the mystery surrounding the fate of most of Hooker's manuscripts and the delay in the posthumous publication of his works, a number of early scribal manuscripts are of special significance in establishing the text, particularly of Books VI-VIII of the Polity: see, for instance, W. Speed Hill, ‘Hooker's Polity: The Problem of the “Three Last Books”’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 34 (1970-1), 317-36. The number of known copies of the problematical Book VIII now stands at eight (HkR 14-21). The number of copies of the even more problematical Book VI (apart from the Cranmer-Sandys notes on the original version: HkR 11) stands at two (HkR 12-13).

The single most important collection of manuscripts of Hooker's works is at Trinity College, Dublin. This collection belonged to Archbishop Ussher and probably came to him via Lancelot Andrewes. It is described in P.G. Stanwood, ‘The Richard Hooker Manuscripts’, Long Room (Spring-Summer 1975), 7-10. One other notable collection that contains relevant manuscripts is the so-called Fairhurst Papers at Lambeth Palace. These papers are ecclesiastical documents belonging to the official archives of the Church of England. They were removed for safe keeping by John Selden during the Civil War and were re-acquired by Lambeth Palace, principally at a sale at Sotheby's in 1963. The collection is described by Geoffrey Bill in ‘Lambeth Palace Library’, The Library, 5th Ser. 21 (1966), 192-206 (pp. 201-3), and in the Catalogue of Manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library: MSS 1907-2340 (Oxford, 1976), pp. 29-66.

The Hooker-Travers Controversy

In addition to the manuscripts of Hooker's theological tracts, the entries below include documents relating to the major controversy in which he was engaged: that is, his doctrinal dispute with Walter Travers (1548?-1635) in 1585-86 (HkR 28-52). Travers's Supplication to the Council and various reports of his doctrinal objections to Hooker are included, as well as Hooker's Answer to Travers and Hooker's accounts of his own preaching. Travers's letter to Lord Burghley of 28 March 1586 and his arguments for being reinstated as minister in the Temple following the success of Hooker's defence are preserved in official copies annotated by Archbishop Whitgift (1530/1?-1604) in the British Library (Lansdowne MS 50, ff. 169r, 178r-v). The whole debate is treated in S.J. Knox, Walter Travers: Paragon of Elizabethan Puritanism (London, 1962), pp. 70-88.

The Ecclesiastical Polity: Quoted, Translated, and Annotated

Hooker's Polity was frequently quoted, sometimes extensively, and almost invariably from printed editions, in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century miscellanies. A number of these are included in entries below (HkR 69-78).

In addition, printed exempla of the Polity are often found containing marginal annotations by early readers. Volumes of this kind are found, for instance, in the British Library and in Corpus Christi College, Oxford (William Fulman's annotated exemplum of Books VI and VIII is mentioned in Keble (1888), I, xxxiii).

For the Latin translation of the Polity, Books I-V, which John Earles made for continental use during the Interregnum and which was thought to have been lost since Earles's original manuscript was destroyed by his servants after his death, see EaJ 85).


Only two letters by Hooker are currently known, one of them autograph, both addressed to John Rainolds (HkR 56-58).


‘The Inventarie of the goodes and chattells’ (including the library) left by Hooker at his death — a document dated 26 November 1600 — is preserved (HkR 59), as is his will (HkR 60).

Reports of the proceedings in the case of Hooker versus Sandys — documents of major importance in establishing what happened to Hooker's Polity after his death — are in the National Archives, Kew (C 24/390/100 and C. 24/394/73). These and other documents relating to the legacies of Hooker's daughters are edited in C.J. Sisson, The Judicious Marriage of Mr Hooker and the Birth of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (Cambridge, 1940), pp. 127-73.

Certain other manuscript works which are found ascribed to ‘Mr Hooker’ appear to be writings by another ‘Hooker’ (? Thomas Hooker (1586?-1647)). For instance, in the British Library there is a manuscript ‘Treatise of the Will of Man written by Mr Hooker, sometime Preacher of God's Word at Chelmsford in Essex’ (Harley MS 6828, ff. 65r-82r), and in York Minster a collection of manuscript transcripts of anti-episcopal tracts surreptitiously printed in the 1630s (MS XVI. L. II) includes ‘A Briefe discourse touchinge kneeling in the Act of receiuinge the Lords Supper: Written by Mr. Hooker’.

Apart from the annotated Christian Letter (*HkR 53) no printed books owned or annotated by Hooker have been identified. Elsie Smith, in ‘Hooker at Salisbury’, TLS (30 March 1962), p. 223, intimated that a number of theological books in the library of Salisbury Cathedral were ‘heavily annotated’ by Hooker. Although Hooker certainly had access to this library, no annotations in his autograph have yet been identified, however.

Peter Beal