John Lilburne

Selected Works of the Levellers


The Levellers were a group of English reformers mainly active during the period from 1645 through 1649, who originated many of the ideas that eventually became provisions of the U.S. Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. Inspired by the Petition of Right of 1628, and led by John Lilburne, beginning as a lieutenant of Oliver Cromwell, they initially supported the Protectorate, but then turned against it when Cromwell failed to make the reforms they demanded. The response was the prosecution of most of its leaders, who were either imprisoned or executed. Their proposals continued, however, to inspire political philosophers and future generations of reformers. They appear to have influenced their contemporary, Thomas Hobbes, and later writers such as James Harrington and John Locke. Their proposals were revived during the Revolution of 1688 to produce the English Bill of Rights in 1689, which led to the Whig party in Britain that supported many of the reforms for Britain sought by the Americans during the War of Independence.

During the period of their greatest activity, the Levellers produced a number of political documents, which have been gathered and published by various editors. We present several of those collections here, which have some overlap in their contents.


Andrew Sharp Collection

Published as The English Levellers by Cambridge University Press in 1998, the following selections provide an introduction to some of the key ideas of the Levellers and the debates their ideas provoked. For more on this edition, see publication information.

      page
    Introduction: the English Levellers, 1645-1649 vii
    Chronological table xxiii
    Bibliographical note xxxi
    A note on the texts xxxv
HTML Version Text Version  1 John Lilburne, 'On the 150th page': An untitled broadsheet of August 1645 3
HTML Version Text Version  2 William Walwyn, Toleration justified and persecution condemned. 29 January 1646 9
HTML Version Text Version  3 John Lilburne, Postscript to The freeman's freedom vindicated. 16 June 1646 31
HTML Version Text Version  4 Richard Overton with William Walwyn's collaboration, A remonstrance of many thousand citizens. 7 July 1646 33
HTML Version Text Version  5 Richard Overton, An arrow against all tyrants. 12 October 1646 54
HTML Version Text Version  6 William Walwyn, Gold tried in the fire. 4 June 1647 73
HTML Version Text Version  7 Several hands, An agreement of the people for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right and freedom. 28 October 1647 92
HTML Version Text Version  8 Members of the New Model Army and civilian Levellers, Extract from the debates at the General Council of the Army, Putney. 29 October 1647 102
HTML Version Text Version  9 John Lilburne and others, The petition of 11 September 1648 131
HTML Version Text Version  10 John Lilburne, England's new chains discovered. 26 February 1649 140
HTML Version Text Version  11 William Walwyn, and on behalf of John Lilburne, Thomas Prince and Richard Overton, A manifestation. 14 April 1649 158
HTML Version Text Version  12 John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Thomas Prince and Richard Overton, An agreement of the free people of England. 1 May 1649 168
HTML Version Text Version  13 John Lilburne, The young men's and the apprentices' outcry. 29 August 1649 179
  Select biographies 202
    Index 214

William Haller and Godfrey Davies Collection

Published as The Leveller tracts 1647-1653 in 1944, the following selections cover some of the later documents. For more on this edition, see publication information.

[These documents under construction.]

Don M. Wolfe Collection

Published as Leveller manifestos of the Puritan revolution in 1944, the following selections provide a comprehensive exposition of the positions of the reformers. For more on this edition, see publication information.

[These documents under construction.]


John Lilburne

  • HTML Version John Lilburne: The First English Libertarian, by Peter Richards, March 29, 2008 — Biography.
  • HTML Version The Resurrection of John Lilburne (1655) — Final letters.

Leveller Allies

Not properly part of the Leveller movement, there were some who sided with their positions:

  • HTML Version Text Version A Healing Question, Sir Henry Vane (1656) — He was tried for writing this in a famous trial that tested the right of free speech.

History and Commentary

  • HTML Version The Leveller Movement, Theodore Calvin Pease (1916) — A study in the history and political theory of the English Great Civil War.
  •  Short Hints upon Levelling — A Charge to the Grand Jury of Middlesex, William Mainwaring. (1791) — Reveals Tory-Mansfieldian linking of jury rights to fears of property re-distribution.

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Home » Liberty Library » Levellers
Original URL: http://www.constitution.org/lev/levellers.htm
Maintained by:
Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Created: 2000/3/3 | 


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