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Gaulois™, in Viallaneix and Erhard, Nos ancetres les Gaulois, p. 112.
ˆ
¦»“ Pezron, Antiquities of nations, pp. xii“xiii. ¦»“ Ibid., p. 214.
68 Theological contexts

theology excited controversy, but also had considerable inXuence on the
construction of the Celt in eighteenth-century British ethnic discourses.
Bryant and Jackson proved to be hostile critics of the Pezronian account
of gentile mythology. Jackson argued that the Titans were not Pezron™s
Gomerian Celts, but were, in fact, Hamidians.¦»” Far from accepting
Pezron™s account of the centrality of Celtic history in the formation of
classical paganism, Bryant believed that the Greeks had been profoundly
ignorant of the ethnography of northern Europe and had invented con-
venient umbrella terms for the peoples of this area.¦¦» However, other
English commentators proved more receptive to Pezron™s scheme, in-
cluding Francis Wise.¦¦¦ The prominent tory historian Thomas Carte
(1686“1754) drew heavily on Pezron in his account of the Celtic origins
of the ancient Britons,¦¦  a view which was later repeated, albeit with a
degree of caution, in Tobias Smollett™s Complete history of England.¦¦À
Carte accepted the Biblical account of the dispersal of nations, and of the
Japhetan roots of the European peoples: prior to the eastern invasion of
Europe by Gomerian Celts, the continent had been settled by Phrygians
descended from Javan, fourth son of Japhet. Like Pezron, Carte linked
ancient Celtic history to a euhemeristic interpretation of the origins of
classical paganism. Moreover, the empire of the Titans had included the
Germans, whom Carte categorised as ˜a Celtic nation™. The Gomerian
framework suggested an identiWcation of the common ethnic roots of
Celts and Germans, of the sort which would be unthinkable in the
secularised ethnology of the nineteenth century. Inspired by Pezron,
Parsons, the author of The remains of Japhet, called on his fellow English-
men to show due respect for the peoples of the Celtic fringe, who were
after all ˜the only unmixed remains of the children of Japhet upon the
globe™, and related through that patriarch to the Scythian Germans.¦¦Ã
Pezron™s main contribution to British ethnic discourse was the provi-
sion of a glorious usable past for the neglected ˜Gomerian™ Celts of the
British peripheries. Celtic patriots derived inspiration from the ingenious
work of the Breton Cistercian. Rowlands retold the Japhetan peopling of
Europe from a Cambrocentric perspective in his Mona antiqua restaurata
(1723).¦¦• Theophilus Evans (1694“1767), Rowland Jones (1722“74),
Jackson, Chronological antiquities, III, p. 76.
¦»”
Bryant, New system, III, p. 135.
¦¦»
See e.g. Wise, Enquiries concerning the Wrst inhabitants of Europe, pp. 29“33.
¦¦¦
Thomas Carte, A general history of England (4 vols., London, 1747“55), I, pp. 7“14. The
¦¦ 
myth of Trojan origins was, by contrast, I, p. 15, ˜utterly destitute of all support™.
¦¦À Tobias Smollett, A complete history of England from the descent of Julius Caesar (1757“8:
2nd edn, 11 vols., London, 1758“60), I, pp. 6“7.
¦¦Ã James Parsons, Remains of Japhet, p. x.
¦¦• Rowlands, Mona antiqua restaurata; G. H. Jenkins, The foundations of modern Wales,
1642“1780 (Oxford, 1987), p. 250.
Ethnic theology and British identities 69

Thomas Richards (1710?“90) and John Walters (1721“97) drew on the
theory of the glorious Gomerian past to raise the proWle of the Welsh
language.¦¦’ There already existed an earlier layer of Welsh Hebraism “
as, for example, in Charles Edwards™s Hebraismorum Cambro-
Britannicorum (1675)¦¦“ “ upon which the superstructure of Pezronian
ideology could be raised. The Welsh Gomerians argued that Celtic was a
dialect of the original Hebrew language of mankind, and compiled tables
of comparative vocabulary to demonstrate the proximity of Welsh to
Hebrew. There were thus two principal strands to the patriotic story
projected by the Welsh ethnic theologians. They took pride both in a
glorious Gomerian descent, embracing the ancient Titan empire, and in
the close aYnity of Welsh to Hebrew. Welsh patriots claimed to speak the
most uncorrupted language of Europe. According to Jones, ˜Celtic re-
ceived no alteration at Babel.™¦¦“ Richards boasted that Welsh ˜comes not
short of any European language in point of antiquity, copiousness and
independency™.¦¦” Pezron™s account of the Celts™ Titan golden age was
inserted into the origin myth of the Welsh. Richards rejoiced that the
modern Welsh, though a people conWned to a peripheral region of the
British state, were the heirs of the Titans, and spoke ˜the language of those
princes called Saturn and Jupiter, who posed for great deities among the
ancients™.¦ » Walters argued that Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Gaulish, Welsh
and Irish were merely diVerent dialects of the language of the ancient
Titan race.¦ ¦ This phase of Celticist recovery was not predicated on
Welsh opposition to the Germanic stock of England. Jones wrote conW-
dently of the original familial aYnities of these distinct ethnic groups:
˜historians are of late generally agreed from some passages in Ezekiel and
Jeremiah, Josephus, Berosus, Bochart and others, that the Cimbri, Gauls,
Celtes and Germans are the descendants of Gomer and his eldest son
Ashkenas™.¦  
The ideas of Pezron also played a part in the evolution of eighteenth-
century Scottish patriotism. The Gomerian scheme Wlled the gap which
resulted from the deconstruction of the secular myth of the ancient

¦¦’ Jenkins, Foundations of modern Wales, pp. 223“4, 400“1; G. J. Williams, ˜The history of
Welsh scholarship™, Studia Celtica 8“9 (1973“4), 215“18; J. Davies, A history of Wales
(1990: Harmondsworth, 1994), p. 303; P. Morgan, A new history of Wales: the eighteenth-
century renaissance (Llandybie, 1981), pp. 106“9.
¦¦“ S. Piggott, Celts, Saxons, and the early antiquaries (O™Donnell Lecture, 1966: Edinburgh,
1967), p. 7.
¦¦“ Rowland Jones, The origin of language and nations, hieroglyWcally, etymologically and
topograWcally deWned and Wxed (London, 1764), ˜Preface™.
¦¦” Thomas Richards, Antiquae linguae Britannicae thesaurus: being a British, or Welsh“
English dictionary (Bristol, 1753), p. iv. ¦ » Ibid., pp. ix“x.
¦ ¦ John Walters, A dissertation on the Welsh language (Cowbridge, 1771), pp. 20“1.
¦   Rowland Jones, Origin of language, ˜Preface™.
70 Theological contexts

Scottish royal line and constitution by the Jacobite antiquary Father
Thomas Innes.¦ À The Gomerian history of the Celts provided a reliable
alternative to the recently overthrown medieval myth of the settlement of
Scotland from Ireland by an ancient maritime people from Iberia. Whig“
presbyterian antiquarians such as David Malcolme, William Maitland
(1693?“1757) and Robert Henry (1718“90) hitched the ethnic theology
of Pezron to theories of universal language, ancient migration patterns
and comparative ethnography as a means of infusing some glory and
scriptural credibility into the denuded story of Scottish origins.¦ Ã
Outside Pezron™s sphere of inXuence alternative versions of Scriptural
ethnology continued to inXuence the construction of British identities.
The pedigree of the Druid religion practised by the aboriginal Britons was
traced to Noachic origins. Indeed, a patriotic subtradition within the
Church of England recognised Druidism as a respectable Old Testament
prototype of Anglicanism, a cosy native British version of the religion of
Noah and Abraham. Christianity was but retrospective Druidism, a
˜republication of the patriarchal religion™ which looked back rather than
forwards to the coming of the Messiah.¦ • According to Rowlands, who
championed Anglesey as the metropolitan seat of the high Druid and
Welsh as the modern descendant of Hebrew, the Druids ˜being so near in
descent, to the fountains of true religion and worship, as to have had one
of Noah™s sons for grandsire or greatgrandsire, may well be imagined, to
have carried and conveyed here some of the rites and usages of that true
religion, pure and untainted™. These ˜great moralists and adorers of one
God™, he considered, in spite of their ˜human sacriWces and diabolical
magic™, to be ˜almost half Christians™, who prepared the way for Britain™s
early apostolic reception of the gospel.¦ ’
William Stukeley (1687“1765), whose archaeological studies Stone-
henge (1740) and Abury (1743) were conceived as elements in a larger
project on the patriarchal religion, was the foremost Anglican champion
of Druidism. In an attempt to counter the deists and anti-Trinitarians

¦ À T. I. Rae, ˜Historical scepticism in Scotland before David Hume™, in R. F. Brissenden
(ed.), Studies in the eighteenth century II (Canberra, 1973).
¦ Ã Malcolme, Letters, essays and other tracts; William Maitland, The history and antiquities of
Scotland (London, 1757), pp. 32“3, 112; Jerome Stone, ˜An enquiry into the original of
the nation and language of the ancient Scots™, Edinburgh University Library Laing MS,
La.III.251, V. 35“9; Robert Henry, The history of Great Britain (6 vols., London,
1771“93), I, pp. 466“70; ˜Dissertation concerning the antiquity of the Caiel or Gaiel™,
V. 1“2.
¦ • William Stukeley, Abury, a temple of the British Druids (London, 1743), p. iii; Piggott,
Druids, p. 151. Gale, Court of the Gentiles, II, p. 82, traced the oak religion of the Druids
back to the practices of Abraham in the plain of Mamre.
¦ ’ Rowlands, Mona antiqua restaurata, pp. 45, 140“1; Jenkins, Foundations of modern Wales,
p. 250.
Ethnic theology and British identities 71

from an unexpected quarter, Stukeley proclaimed that England had been
the seat of orthodox religious truth ever since the age of the Old Testa-
ment patriarchs. Arriving soon after the Flood, the Druids had construc-
ted the great stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury, ˜the great cathe-
dral, the chief metropolitical or patriarchal temple of the island™. Stukeley
depicted the Druids as learned and moderate precursors of Georgian
Anglicanism steering a steady via media between the follies of enthusiasm
and superstition. For example, Druidism had been Trinitarian: ˜the
ancients knew somewhat of the mysterious nature of the deity, subsisting
in distinct personalities, which is more fully revealed to us in the Christian
dispensation™. Through defending the particular ethos of the Church of
England as well as revelation in general, Stukeley managed to weave a
vivid pageant of English patriotism out of the unpromising material of
theology: ˜the true religion has chieXy since the repeopling mankind after
the Flood, subsisted in our island: and here we made the best reformation
from the universal pollution of Christianity, Popery™. Furthermore, not
only did Stukeley celebrate the central role played by the Britons in the
preservation of true religion, he also sacralised the pre-Christian land-
scape of England. The ancient henges about which he waxed hobby-
horsical were a permanent ˜impress™ on the land of the ˜sacred character™
of the patriarchal religion.¦ “
In the wake of Stukeley, a lively mythistoire of patriotic Druidism,
variously pan-British, imperialist, English, Welsh and Cornish in focus,
was maintained by the likes of William Cooke, Thomas Maurice, Row-
land Jones and Edward Davies (1756“1831).¦ “ This tradition cul-
minated in William Blake™s epics Milton (1810) and Jerusalem (1820),
which were conceived at the turn of the nineteenth century under the
inXuence of the British patriarchal tradition. However, Blake™s growing
disillusionment with Druidism led to a radical reworking of its history. He
transformed the myth of Biblical survivals in Britain into a story of decline
from the vital uncorrupted Christianity of the patriarchs, Wrst into the
staleness and oppression of organised ˜state religion™, later into the very
antithesis of spirituality as modern Britain became the seat of the
¦ “ Stukeley, Abury, pp. iv, 6, 40, 101; Stukeley, Stonehenge, a temple restored to the British
Druids (London, 1740), ˜Preface™; Piggott, Druids, pp. 146“50; Piggott, Stukeley. For the
Trinitarianism of the Druids, see also William Cooke, An enquiry into the patriarchal and
Druidical religion (1754: 2nd edn, London, 1755), pp. 33, 40, 55, 57“8.
¦ “ Cooke, Patriarchal and Druidical religion; Maurice, Indian antiquities, VI, ˜A dissertation
on the Indian origin of the Druids™; Rowland Jones, Circles of Gomer; Edward Davies,
Celtic researches (London, 1804), pp. 119“20, whose scheme of Druidism is substantially
modiWed by the helio-arkite theories of Bryant and Faber in Edward Davies, The
mythology and rites of the British Druids (London, 1809), sect. II, esp. pp. 87, 90“1, 96,
117, 180“2; S. Piggott, Ancient Britons and the antiquarian imagination (London, 1989),
p. 147; Piggott, Druids, p. 164.
72 Theological contexts

mechanical philosophy of Bacon, Newton and Locke: ˜All things begin
and end in Albion™s ancient Druid rocky shore / But now the starry
heavens are Xed from the mighty limbs of Albion.™¦ ”

Ideas of Japhetan descent did not play a dominant role in the formation of
British patriotisms. As subsequent chapters will show, ethnic histories
were generally deployed to further temporal ends (including the institu-
tional needs of churches). Nevertheless, ethnic theology did constitute a
vital arena of early modern Christian apologetics, and insights derived
from it did have some inXuence both on the construction of identities and
on attitudes to other ethnic groups. Conversely, of course, it is widely
acknowledged that the secularisation of knowledge played an important
role in the rise of racialism: the construction of a philology which separ-
ated Indo-European languages from the Semitic both undermined a
universal Biblical history and provided a ˜scientiWc™ rationale for Europe™s
traditional anti-Judaic bigotry. Similarly, in the British Isles, where the
Celtic fringes had always had to endure the unwanted reformist atten-
tions of the centre, such practices acquired a clear racialist rationale only
in the nineteenth century with the disappearance of a Japhetan lineage
which demonstrated the aYliation of Celts and Saxons. Mosaic history,
in all its hermeneutic variety, is a neglected but necessary backdrop to the
history of ethnic identity.
¦ ” Blake, Milton, in Blake, Complete writings (ed. G. Keynes, 1957: Oxford, 1966 edn),
p. 486; S. Smiles, The image of antiquity (New Haven, 1994), pp. 91“6; P. F. Fisher,
˜Blake and the Druids™, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 58 (1959), 592;
Piggott, Druids, p. 165; M. Butler, ˜Romanticism in England™, in R. Porter and M. Teich
(eds.), Romanticism in national context (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 49“51; Mee, Dangerous
enthusiasm, pp. 92“4, 99.
Part II

The three kingdoms
MMMM
4 Whose ancient constitution? Ethnicity and
the English past, 1600“1800




The identity of the English nation during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries Wts neatly into neither of the main categories of classiWcation
identiWed by political scientists, being neither indisputably ethnic nor
exclusively civic-territorial.¦ Although early modern Englishness drew
heavily on the inspiration of the nation™s Anglo-Saxon past, it was far
from straightforwardly ethnocentric. Rather, ideological imperatives
shaped a troubled legacy of repeated conquests and new ethnic settle-
ments into an irreducible ˜story™ of England. This myth was well adapted
to the rigours of contemporary political discourse but its chameleon
qualities defy modern deWnitions of national identity. Englishmen enjoy-
ed both an ethnic identity as the descendants of the libertarian Anglo-
Saxons and an institutional identity derived from the historic laws and
mixed constitution of the realm, a long regnal history which encompassed
the ancient Celtic Britons, the Gothic Saxons who displaced them from
the Wfth century onwards and the Normans who arrived in the eleventh
century. Anglo-Saxonism predominated as the core identity of the Eng-
lish people, but, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
the ˜aboriginal™ ancient Britons enjoyed signiWcantly more than a walk-on
part in the national pageant. The Normans too, although often cast as
villains, played an integral (and sometimes positive) part in the unfolding
history of English liberty.
This rich ethnic diversity was a minor ingredient of English national
identity. The copious vocabulary of the English language was generally
attributed to the ethnic variety of the English people, and some common
lawyers celebrated a similar wealth of legal solutions drawn from diVerent
ethnic sources. Francis Bacon, for example, celebrated both these as-
pects, noting that our laws ˜are as mixt as our language, compounded of

¦ See e.g. J. Plamenatz, ˜Two types of nationalism™, in E. Kamenka (ed.), Nationalism: the
nature and evolution of an idea (New York, 1976), for the crude “ but inXuential “ contrast
between benign western civic patriotisms and virulent eastern ethnic nationalisms;
P. Cabanel, La question nationale au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1997), pp. 9“14, for the distinction
`
between ˜la nation-contrat™ and the ethnographic conception of ˜la nation-genie™.
´

75

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