Polygamy, Adultery & Divorce in 18th c. England

Ochino, Bernardino (1487-1564); Wolseley, Charles (c. 1630-1714); Castamore (pseud.)

The cases of polygamy, concubinage, adultery, divorce, &c. seriously and learnedly discussed. Being a compleat collection of all the remarkable tryals and tracts which have been Written on those Important Subjects

London: Printed for T. Payne, in Pater-Noster-Row; J. Chrichley, at Charing-Cross; and W. Shropshire, in New-Bond-Street, 1732


Large 12mo. 15.8 x 10 cm. 4 parts in 1: 15.8 x 10 cm. [2], lvii, [1], 240 p. Collation: π1, [a]-[b]12,[c]5, B-L12


Bound in 18thc. speckled calf, boards and spine ruled in gold. Bookplate of the LA Law Library on front pastedown (deaccessioned in 2014). Joints rubbed, small ships to spine, light stain to margins of title, else very fine.

Second English editions of Bernardino Ochino's dialogues on divorce and polygamy, both of which first appeared in English in 1657. With the second editions of Charles Wolseley's, "The Case of Divorce, and Re-marriage thereupon"(1673), the anonymous "Treatise Concerning Adultery and Divorce" (1700), and the pseudonymous "Conjugium languens: or the Natural, civil and religious mischiefs arising from conjugal infidelity and impunity" (1700), by "Castamore". In The "Treatise Concerning Adultery and Divorce", while adultery is condemned as a sin, the author allows that divorce should be allowed in cases of adultery, a sin committed by both men and women (but in women more severe a sin because they have the ability to bring "unlawful" children into the world.

Bernardino Ochino was something of an anomaly. He began his religious life as Franciscan and later became a member of the Capuchins, of which order he was to become vicar general before converting to Protestantism. Hunted by the Inquisition, he fled to Geneva, then to Augsburg, and thence to England, where he participated in the promotion of Protestant reforms under Edward VI. When Mary I assumed the throne, Ochino fled to Zurich to minister to Italian Protestant refugees. However, he antagonized the city authorities and was forced to publish a defensive work, his Thirty Dialogues (1563). It was in one of these dialogues (that printed here) that he appeared to advocate polygamy. This led to his banishment to Poland, whence the Poles also banished him. He died of plague wandering in Moravia in 1564. For an in-depth examination of Ochino's problematic text, see Philip McNair, Ochino's Apology: Three Gods or Three Wives? In History, Vol. 60, No. 200, p. 353-373

ESTC T153320