Hume Texts Online

The History of England (1754-62, 1778)

prepared by Amyas Merivale

Hume’s History of England was written in three stages, and in reverse chronological order. He began with two volumes on the History of Great Britain (from the Union of the Crowns to the death of James II), published in 1754 and 1757. In 1759 he then published two more volumes, on the House of Tudor. This necessitated changing the title from the History of Great Britain to the History of England, since he now began the story a century and a half before the union. Finally, in 1762, he published two more volumes tracing the country’s history back even further, all the way to the Celtic Britons and the Roman invasion. In 1763, the first complete set was published, but owing to the size of the work—including the now very large index included in the final volume—it had to be chopped up rather awkwardly into 8 volumes rather than 6.

The text here follows the posthumous 1778 edition, which Hume was working on before he died. That edition was also (of necessity) printed in 8 volumes, but it is shown here divided into 6 volumes instead (matching the breaks that appeared in the volumes as they were originally published). The other texts on this site are not divided up into separate volumes at all (even where the originals were), since such divisions are unnecessary and presumed to be of little interest. In the case of the History of England, however, we have made an exception; with its 71 chapters and four appendices, and no other internal structure, it would be rather unwieldy without these divisions.

The text here is derived from the HTML version of the Liberty Classics edition, available at I am hugely grateful to the Liberty Fund for making this text available. The text was imported automatically, and is being checked and edited by hand. I have not yet checked it all (far from it), but from what I can tell so far it is very accurate. There are some systematic stylistic changes that have been undone here, and a handful of small errors that I am correcting as I see them. Don’t expect me to get through the text quickly; it is about twice as long as everything else Hume ever published put together.