A Disputation of the Church, by LECHMERE, Edmund (d. circa…

‘the graceful and penetrating works of Edmund Lechmere’ 1
LECHMERE, Edmund (d. circa 1640).

A Disputation of the Church, Wherein the old Religion is maintained. V.M.C.F.E. Douai, the widdow of Mark Wyon, 1632.

Second Edition. 8vo ( pp. [xvi], 335, 338-434, 439-649 (text continuous and complete), [1] ‘the fift conclusion’, [3]’To my opponents’, Errata and notes on heretics, title with woodcut printer’s device, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and decorative initials, small hole in text p. 125 (6 x 9 mm max) with loss of some letters, small burn hole on p. 127 (9 x 2 mm max) also with minimal loss of letters, marginal tear in Rf4 (p. 637) just touching text but with no loss, small tear, probably an original paper flaw, on Ff4 (p. 461), through text with no loss, dampstaining throughout, with dust-soiling and browning, numerous leaves dog-eared, much creasing, loose in contemporary limp vellum with turn-ins, marked, creased and worn, binding only holding at foot of spine: an honest and well-read copy, entirely unrestored.

A rather tatty copy, unrestored in a contemporary vellum binding, of a learned recusant treatise first published in 1629. Edmund Lechmere was a Worcestershire-born Catholic divine who went to study at the English College at Douai, where he was also known under the alias of Stratford. He studied the course of divinity under the famous theologian Dr. Kellison and publicly defended it on 1st August 1617, after which he was appointed professor of philosophy. After spending some time in Paris where he attended the lectures of Dr. Gamache,he was persuaded by Kellison to return to Douai and take up the chair of divinity, which he held for some eight years. He was ordained to the priesthood in Douai in 1622. His works have always been admired for their intellectual clarity and depth of learning and he stands out among his contemporaries for the brilliance of his controversial writings in particular.
‘Edmund Lechmere astonished his contemporaries with his natural genius, and outstripped them all in the progress he made in the studies... Towards the close of Panzani’s mission to England, the names of several of the most eminent clergymen suitable for the episcopacy were sent up to Rome, in 1635, and, though the youngest on the list, Dr. Lechmere was most highly recommended for his ability, learning, and piety... ‘The works he left behind him,’ says Dodd, ‘are a lasting monument of his extraordinary qualifications, and have merited a preference to all our controversial writers for acuteness and just reasoning’... From his epistle in this remarkably learned work, it appears that the author had long been engaged in private controversy with his Protestant adversary’ (Gillow, Joseph, A Literary and Biographical History, or Biographical Dictionary of the English Catholics, IV, 174-175).
This is one of three editions of Lechmere’s treatise, all published in Douai, the first appeared in 1629 printed by Marck Wyon. The present and subsequent edition of 1640 were printed by Mark Wyon’s widow. ESTC lists copies of the 1629 first edition at BL, Cambridge, Downside, Lambeth Palace, NLS, Bodleian, Society of Jesus Library and Trinity College; no copies located outside the UK. This second edition (ESTC s108397) is more common, well held in British libraries and in America at Emory, Folger, Harvard, Huntington, Union Theological Seminary, Illinois and Texas. Rare at auction, with the last copy we can trace being 1969 (bought by Thorp for $100).

1 ‘Recusant Literature’, New Catholic Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia.com, 28 Feb 2022, .

STC (2nd edn) 15349; Allison & Rogers, Catholic Books, 443; ESTC s108397.

Keywords: Devotional Works
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