MS 294: Letters & Notes Relating to Josiah Tucker

Scope and Content

The collection comprises:

1. Five autograph letters from Tucker dating from 1776-1791. Three from the 1770s and 80s are addressed to London booksellers (Thomas Cadell and John Rivington) and relate both to the publication of his own pamphlets and to the purchase of books by others. Two later letters of 1791 to an unidentified correspondent, seemingly located in Bath, are of a more personal nature, but hint at Tucker's continuing interest in political issues.

2. One sheet of autograph notes in Tucker's hand for a poem on commerce.

3. Two engraved portraits of Tucker, one mounted with an obituary cut from a newspaper.

4. A letter from William Seward to "Mr Chalmers", relating to Tucker's anonymous authorship of a pamphlet on the Test Act.

Administrative / Biographical History

Josiah Tucker (1713-1799), was a key political and economic writer and controversialist of the 18th century. Although his Welsh origins were obscure he was educated at the grammar school at Ruthin in Denbighshire, before entering St John's College, Oxford, as an exhibitioner in 1733. He graduated BA in 1736, and went on to take holy orders, graduating MA in 1739 and DD in 1755. Appointed vicar of St Stephen's, Bristol in 1737, his first published work, an attack on Methodism, appeared in 1739, but the scope of his comment broadened rapidly and he eventually produced over 40 books and pamphlets on political and economic issues. An avowed controversialist, he was content to be unpopular, being burned in effiigy in central Bristol for supporting Jewish naturalization. From 1758 he was appointed Dean of Gloucester, and divided his time between this city and his parish in Bristol. In the 1770s the topic dominating his attention was the question of the independence of Britain's North American colonies, leading to two notable works: 'Cui bono?' and 'A treatise concerning civil government' (both 1781). Although his output declined in the later decades of his life, his interest continued and he remained a respected figure. He relinquished his post in Bristol in 1793 as his health declined, and died as the reult of a stroke in Gloucester. He is buried in the Cathedral.

Access Information

To view please contact St John's College Library ( to arrange an appointment.

Other Finding Aids


Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Kept together in a melanex pouch.

Archivist's Note

Prepared by the Librarian 13/03/14.

Custodial History

The collection was given to St John's College Library in 1947, by a descendant, Ms M.A.R. Tucker.