Debating the Faith: Damaris Masham (1658–1708) and Religious Controversy

  • Sarah Hutton
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 209)


Damaris Masham was one of a tiny handful of seventeenth-century women who published philosophical writings: A Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1696) and Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705). Like many seventeenth-century women, Damaris Masham also engaged in correspondence. Both her letters and her books contain diverse discussions of religious matters on issues topical for her time (such subjects as the relationship of reason to faith, religious toleration and controversies surrounding the doctrine of the Trinity). A key figure in her intellectual life is John Locke through whom she came in contact with leading lights of the Republic of Letters. My paper places Masham’s correspondence in the context of the religious controversies of the 1690s and 1700s. I focus on her correspondence with Locke’s friends, Philip Van Limborch and Jean Le Clerc to identify her personal religious views, to demonstrate her theological knowledge, and to show the ways in which she used letter writing as a means to debate them


Religious View Religious Topic Religious Matter Christian Life Opus Omnia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Carter, Benjamin. 2011. “The little commonwealth of man”: The Trinitarian origins of the ethical and political philosophy of Ralph Cudworth. Leeuven: Peeters.Google Scholar
  2. Champion, Justin. 1992. The pillars of priestcraft shaken. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Colie, Rosalie. 1957. Light and enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dixon, Philip. 2003. Nice and hot disputes: The doctrine of the trinity in the seventeenth century. London: T&T Clark.Google Scholar
  5. Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College.Google Scholar
  6. Harris, Frances. 2003. The transformations of love: The friendship of John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hedley, Douglas. 2005. Persons of substance and the Cambridge connections some roots and ramifications of the Trinitarian controversy in seventeenth-century England. In Socinianism and Arminianism. Antitrinitarians, Calvinists and cultural exchange in seventeenth-century Europe, ed. Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls, 225–40. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  8. Hutton, Sarah. 1993. Damaris cudworth, Lady Masham: Between Platonism and enlightenment. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1: 29–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hutton, Sarah. Forthcoming. Religion and sociability in the correspondence of Damaris Masham (1658–1708). In Women and religion in England, ed. Sarah Apetrei and Hannah Smith. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  10. Marshall, John. 1994. John Locke, resistance, religion and responsibility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nuovo, Victor. 2000. Locke’s theology, 1694–1794. In English philosophy in the age of Locke, ed. M.A. Stewart, 183–215. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Phemister, Pauline. 2004. “All the time and everywhere, everything’s the same as here”: the principle of uniformity in Leibniz’s correspondence with Lady Masham. In Leibniz and his correspondents, ed. Lodge Paul, 193–213. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Phemister, Pauline, and Justin Smith. 2007. Leibniz and the Cambridge Platonists and the debate over plastic natures. In Leibniz’s philosophy and the English-speaking world, ed. Phemister Pauline and Brown Stuart, 95–110. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Simonutti, Luisa. 1987. Damaris Cudworth Masham: una Lady della Repubblica delle Lettere. Scritti in Onore di Eugenio Garin. Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 141–65.Google Scholar
  15. Simonutti, Luisa. 2008. Circles of virtuosi and “charity under different opinions”: The crucible of Locke’s last writings. In Studies on Locke: Sources, contemporaries and legacy, ed. Hutton Sarah and Schuurman Paul, 159–76. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sleigh, Robert. 2005. Reflections on the Masham correspondence. In Early modern philosophy: Mind, matter, and metaphysics, ed. Mercer Christia and O’Neill Eileen, 119–27. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adran SaesnegAberystwyth UniversityAberystwythUK

Personalised recommendations