Richard Alleine, The World Conquered, or A Believers Victory over the World (1668)


Published in 1668, The World Conquered was the fourth part of Puritan minister Richard Alleine’s ca. 1660 work Vindiciae Pietatis. As a nonconformist work, Vindiciae Pietatis was published without a license. Consequently—

Roger Norton, the royal printer, caused a large portion of the first edition to be seized, on the ground of its not being licensed, and to be sent to the royal kitchen. But glancing over its pages he was arrested by what he read, and on second thoughts it seemed to him a sin that a book so holy and so saleable should be killed. He therefore bought back the sheets . . . for an old song, bound them, and sold them in his own shop. This in turn was complained of, and the shrewd publisher had to beg pardon on his knees at the council-table. The remaining copies were further sentenced to be ‘bisked’ or rubbed over with an inky brush, and sent back to the palace kitchen for lighting fires. Even in the palace there must have been worthy traitors, for ‘bisked’ copies occasionally turn up still [1].


Despite its controversial beginnings, however, Vindiciae Pietatis and its additions like The World Conquered were extensively printed throughout the 1660s. This edition of The World Conquered is signed on the last page “Mary Hill her Book” and the name “John” is written above in darker ink.


Mary Hill is a fairly common name and this Mary Hill is, unsurprisingly, unidentified, but it would be interesting to compare her signature with that of the Mary Hill who owned a scarce 1741 book titled Little Children Brought to Jesus Christ, offered for sale in the 1850s by the Office of the New England Historical and General Register [2]. Hill’s copy of the work, which was printed in Boston, contained her pedigree in manuscript, but its current whereabouts are unknown. A manuscript of cookery recipes (161/90F) now in the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives and estimated to date from the late 17th or early 18th century is also signed “Mary Hill her book.”


Source: Book offered for sale by Butler Rare Books, May 2020. Images used with permission.

Further Reading

[1] Leslie Stephen, editor. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 1. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1885, p. 301.

[2] Samuel G. Drake. Memoir of the Rev. Cotton Mather, D.D. with a Genealogy of the Family of Mather. Boston: Antiquarian Book Store, 1851, p. 69.

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