Selden, John

Selden, John an eminent lawyer and antiquarian, was born at Salvington, a hamlet in the parish of West Farring, near Worthing, in Sussex, England, Dec. 16, 1584. He received the rudiments of his education at the Free School of Chichester, and at the age of fourteen entered at Hert Hall, Oxford, where, although possessing great abilities, he did not particularly distinguish himself. He entered himself at Clifford's Inn in 1602 for the study of law, and in 1604 removed to the Inner Temple for the completion of his legal studies. He acquired very early a taste for antiquarian research, in which department he afterwards became so eminent. He was, in fact, one of the most learned men of his age. He lived in stirring times, and was, almost inevitably, mixed up with the stormy politics of the period; but he belonged to no extreme party, although a friend of liberty and of the popular cause. He died Nov. 30, 1654. His works are very numerous and learned. The following are those which require special notice here: De Diis Syris Syntagmata Duo (1617), which contains a history of the idol deities mentioned in Scripture, and a summary of Syrian idolatry: — De Successione in Bona Defuncti ad Leges Ebroeorum (1631). An improved edition of this work appeared in 1636, including an additional treatise entitled De Successione in Pontificatum Ebroeorum. Both these treatises. were republished by the author, with additions, in 1638: — De Jure Naturali et Gentium juxta Disciplinam Ebroeorum Libri Septem (1640). In this work the author treats of the seven so called precepts of Noah, and gives a digest of all the laws of the Jews, distinguishing those which belong to universal law from those which are merely national and local: — Uxor Ebraica; seu de Nuptiis et Divortiis ex Jure Civili, id est Divino et Talmudico, Veterum Ebroeorum Tres Libri (1646). Everything relating to marriage and divorce among the Jews will be found treated of here: — De Synedriis et Proefecturis Juridicis Veterum Ebroeorum (1650). In this work, on which Selden spent twelve years, he sets forth everything recorded of the Sanhedrim, or juridical courts of the Jews, with collateral notices of similar institutions in other countries.

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