Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burthogge, Richard

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BURTHOGGE, RICHARD (1638?–1694?), theological writer, was born at Plymouth about 1638. He was educated at Exeter grammar school, became a servitor or chorister of All Souls' College, Oxford, in 1654, proceeded B.A. in 1658, migrated to Lincoln College, and completed his degree 'by determination.' He afterwards went to Leyden University to study medicine, and was admitted there 11 Oct. 1661 (Peacock, Leyden Students, Index Soc, p. 12, s.v. 'Borthage'). He took the degree of doctor in medicine after publishing a thesis, 'De Lithiasi et Calculo,' Leyden, 1662. On returning to his native country he settled at Bowden, near Totnes. Wood states that in 1691 he had been a popular medical practitioner in the neighbourhood of Bowden for more than twenty years, and by that means and by two wealthy marriages 'hath attained a pretty full estate.' He was a vigorous champion of toleration in religious matters and of the right of dissent, and published a number of pamphlets in support of his views. 'He always kept pace with the fanatics,' says Wood, 'temporiz'd with the papists in the reign of James II, and was therefore made a justice of the peace for Devonshire, which office he kept under William III, as being a favourer of fanatics. He is looked upon as a person of considerable learning, and of no less pride and ambition.' He is stated to have died in 1694. Burthogge's chief works are philosophical, and he gained a deserved reputation as a critic of Locke. In his 'Essay on Reason,' dedicated to Locke (1694), he argues that 'every object which we know, we know only as in relation to our powers to know—as a phenomenon or appearance—and what appears is determined negatively by that power of sense and understanding we possess as human beings.' Burthogge anticipates explicitly one of the most important positions of Kant's philosophical system, known also as Hamilton's 'doctrine of the relativity of knowledge' (Ueberweg). Sir William Hamilton quotes Burthogge's definition of consciousness in his notes on Reid's works.

Burthogge's works are: 1. 'Tὰγαθὸν, or Divine Goodness explicated and vindicated from the Exceptions of the Atheist; wherein also the consent of the gravest philosophers with the holy and inspired penmen in many of the most important points of Christian doctrine is fully vindicated,' London, 1672. 2. 'Causa Dei; or an Apology for God,' 1675. 8. 'Organum Vetus et Novum; or a Discourse of Reason and Truth; wherein the natural logick common to mankind is briefly and plainly described,' London, 1678. 4. 'An Argument for Infant Baptism,' London, 1683. 5. 'Vindiciæ Paedo-Baptismi,' London, 1685, a reply to a tract against infant baptism by Edmund Elvs, a divine of the church of England. 6. 'Prudential Reasons for repealing the Penal Laws against all Recusants, and for a general Toleration,' London, 1687, 4to, 'a scandalous and virulent pamphlet ,' according to Wood, to which a clergyman (Rev. John Prince, vicar of Berry-Pomeroy, near Totnes, and author of the 'Worthies of Devon') issued a reply. 7. 'The Nature of Church Government freely discussed in three letters,' to which Robert Burscough, vicar of Totnes, published an answer in 1692. 8. 'An Essay upon Reason and the Nature of Spirits,' London, 1694 (dedicated to Locke). 9. 'Of the Soul of the World, and of Particular Souls: in a letter to Mr. Locke, occasioned by Mr. Keil's Reflections upon an Essay lately published concerning Reason' (i.e. Locke's 'Essay on the Human Understanding'), London, 1699 (republished in Somers's 'Tracts,' 1748, vol. ii., 1809, vol. xii.) 10. 'Christianity a Revealed Mystery,' London, 1702.

[Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 214; Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 581-2; Ueberweg's Hist. of Philosophy (translated), ii. 365; Hamilton's Reid, ii. 928, 938; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.