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Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament
for South West England
including Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset,
Somerset, Devon and Cornwall
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Graham Watson MEP celebrates life of liberal father, John Locke

Thursday, 28th October 2004

The world renowned philosopher John Locke, whose ideas formed the foundation of liberal democracy and greatly influenced both the American and French revolutions was born in Wrington in Somerset on 29th August 1632. Today, 28th October, is the 300th anniversary of his death in Essex, where he is buried.

John Locke was born in his grandmother’s cottage in Wrington and baptized in the village church. He grew up in a small, middle-class, provincial household. At 15, Locke enrolled at Westminster School where he was taught by Richard Busby, a Royalist headmaster. Busby taught his pupils to think for themselves and to beware of the influence of propaganda.

After five years at Westminster, Locke won a scholarship to Christchurch at Oxford in which he took a junior studentship. It was at Oxford that Locke read the writing of Descartes which intellectually stimulated him. In 1689, Locke published a notable writing known as Two Treatises on Government in which he advocated human rights and a governmental structure based on checks and balances.

Locke moved to his country manor in Essex due to his poor health in the last few years of his life, but remained busy publishing other books. He died in 1704.

Current day Liberal, Graham Watson, South West and Gibraltar Euro MP said today:

"The tribute being paid by the village of Wrington to John Locke, by turning the John Locke room into an education resource, is a fitting tribute to a great philosopher. John Locke is noted as one of the leading 10 philosophers in the world and I am pleased to mark the 300th anniversary of his death. We would all be so much poorer intellectually but for men like John Locke who have shaped Liberal thinking. I particularly like this quote of John Locke’s, which for me sums up Liberal philosophy;

"The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which [treats] everyone [equally]. Reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind... that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health or possessions."



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