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Winstanley, Gerrard

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

(1609-1676) UK textile merchant, grazier, political activist and author, active in the latter capacity from 1648 as a religious controversialist, a puritan (vulgarly) whose views on the events of the English Civil War were radically apocalyptic, and whose arguments about the tyranny of private property, expressed through his founding support of the Diggers (who transgressively attempted to farm on common land), remain sagaciously alarming today. His Utopia, The Law of Freedom in a Platform: Or True Magistracie Restored [for full title see Checklist below] (1652), directly expands upon the relatively primitive demands of the Diggers for equality, attempting to adduce Divine sanction for common ownership governed by "true magistracie", which controlled, among other dispensations, the use of Slavery as a form of strictly limited punishment (see Crime and Punishment). As befitted the time of its writing, there was no monarchy. The Law of Freedom is essentially unnarrated, but has remained influential. [JC]

Gerrard Winstanley

born Wigan, Lancaster: October 1609

died St Giles-in-the-Fields, Middlesex [now London]: 10 September 1676

works (selected)

about the author

  • Marie Louise Berneri. Journey Through Utopia (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1950) [nonfiction: pp 145-173: hb/uncredited]


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