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The Palfrey Notebook


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The Palfrey Notebook is a unique survival from the early seventeenth century. Compiled in around 1623 by George Palfrey of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, probably as a record of his studies for his Master's degree, it covers many of the widely-used texts of the period. Although primarily devoted to a detailed evaluation of Aristotelian natural philosophy, it includes an extended survey of the literature on Natural Magic, records of orations and disputations (including Palfrey's own) delivered in college or at the Schools, notes on logic and ethics, personal notes, and anti-papal diatribe. Since the Master of the college at the time was the renowned, moderate-Calvinist scholar Samuel Ward, Palfrey's views, as reflected in the Notebook, can be taken to represent this aspect of Anglicanism, although most of the sources are Roman Catholic, specifically Jesuit texts.
A full transcript of the Notebook is presented here, with detailed commentary and extensive notes which illuminate Palfrey's material and explain its relationship to contemporary texts. A substantial introduction places the Notebook in its historical, educational and philosophical contexts, examines the apparent contradictions between Palfrey's Aristotelianism and interest in magic, his Calvinism and use of Jesuit material, and suggests that the notebook represents a coherent response to the social and intellectual challenges of the times.

C. J. Cook holds a Doctorate in the History of Philosophy from Cambridge University.


Boydell Press is to be commended for undertaking the substantial work of publishing this volume. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY NEWS


First Published: 15 Dec 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843836667
1 black and white illustrations
Pages: 818
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Part I: Introduction
  • 2  The Notebook, its Author and the Seventeenth-Century Context
  • 3  The Content of the Notebook and its Place in the Curriculum
  • 4  The Curriculum of the Notebook and the Development of Method
  • 5  Part II: The Notebook
  • 6  Appendix 1: Contents of Jacobus Zabarella, De rebus naturalibus, Frankfurt 1607
  • 7  Appendix 2: Names: Latin and/or vernacular
  • 8  Bibliography