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Edmund Law

(1703—1787) bishop of Carlisle and theologian


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Daniel Waterland (1683—1740) theologian

John Gay (1699—1745) writer on philosophy

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Edmund Law was born at Cartmel, Lancashire on 6 June 1703. He died at Rose Castle on 14 August 1787 and was buried in Carlisle Cathedral. His father, also Edmund, was curate and schoolmaster at Staveley, Westmorland for forty-nine years. The younger Edmund was educated at Cartmel and at Kendal Grammar School before entering St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1723. He was elected a Fellow of Christ's College and proceeded MA in 1727. Having become a deacon in the previous year, he was also ordained priest in 1727, licensed to the curacy of St Mary's, Retford. In 1737 he became incumbent of Greystoke, Cumberland but, due to a dispute over the right of presentation (the patron being a Roman Catholic), he did not take up the living until 1739, in which year he left Cambridge. He remained at Greystoke until 1746. In 1743 he became Archdeacon of Carlisle, to which the living of Great Salkeld was annexed. He never lost his Cambridge connections, proceeding DD in 1754 in spite of his controversial advocacy of the view that the soul sleeps between death and resurrection. He became Master of Peterhouse in 1756, Protobibliothecarius in 1760 and Knightsbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1764. He was consecrated Bishop of Carlisle in 1769 and resigned his other ecclesiastical preferments. From then on he divided his time between Cambridge and Carlisle. He married Mary Christian, a member of a well-known Cumberland family, in about 1737. His sons formed a distinguished ecclesiastical and legal dynasty in the nineteenth century.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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