Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living (1682)

The Rule of Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651), here bundled together, were popular works by the Anglican and Laudian divine Jeremy Taylor, who had been chaplain of Charles I and was, by the early 1650s when these works were first published, retired to become a private chaplain in Wales, where he developed strong ties to Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery. Taylor is well known to scholars of early modern women for his connection with the poet Katherine Philips, at whose instigation he wrote a work on friendship.

At the time of writing the two works, Taylor was probably living at Carbery’s estate, Golden Grove, and, as John Spurr tells us, the latter work had some personal resonance: “Poignantly Holy Dying was intended as tribute to the countess of Carbery, but before Taylor could finish it, she died in childbirth on 9 October 1650. Taylor preached and later published a funeral sermon for the ‘dear departed Saint’. When he came to dedicate Holy Dying (which was entered in the Stationers’ register on 23 June 1651, while Thomason dated his copy 3 September 1651), Taylor added a personal note by remarking on his own sad experience of grief. Apparently his wife, Phoebe, had died in the first half of 1651″ (ODNB).

This particular copy of the two works was printed in 1682. It contains an undated bookplate with the name “Bourne” and four ownership marks: one above the bookplate show the intials “G. D. B.” (with the B. perhaps referring to Bourne?), and another above frontispiece has been crossed out. It reads “John Raworth,” presumarly with a note of the price, 5 shillings 6 pence.

Two signatures appear on the title page: Anthony Raworth signed and dated his signature 1714, and, most importantly for our purposes, Rosamond Raworth signed with the phrase “her Booke.”

A set of practical manuals on how to live and die a good Christian, this book must have been meaningful to the Raworth family since it was signed by three of its members. It is intriguing to think of how an early modern woman reader might have felt especially moved by the connection of Holy Dying with the death of two important women in Taylor’s life.

Source: Book offered for sale on eBay by dmhammond, 12/1/2020. Images reproduced with permission.

Further Reading

Spurr, John. “Taylor, Jeremy (bap. 1613, d. 1667).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  September 28, 2006.

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