The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England are a seminal text still in use today, having been finalised in this form in 1571, when they were incorporated into the Book of Common Prayer. They would no doubt have been published in both English and Latin, and possibly their translation could have been used as an academic exercise in religious training establishments. In 1713, Edward Welchman, an Anglican priest and one-time associate of Merton College, Oxford published a little volume in Latin, offering a detailed explanation of the Articles, with notes and an appendix explaining his findings in more detail. This was most successful, and was reprinted in 1718 and 1724; a 5th edition was dated 1730, and further editions appeared in 1774, 1793 and 1819.
Edward Welchman (1665–1739) was an English churchman well-known as a theological writer, author of 8 other important texts. Born in Banbury, he entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1679, graduating in 1683 with a B.A. He then became a probationer fellow of Merton College (1684), gaining his M.A. in 1688. His college presented him to the rectory of Lapworth, Warwickshire (1690), and in 1727 He became Archdeacon of Cardigan and a Prebendary of St. David's Cathedral. Later he was chaplain to the Bishop of Lichfield, who made him Prebend of Wolvey at Lichfield Cathedral (1732). Appointed rector of Solihull in 1736, he was still in post when he died in 1739. He was a friend of Deane Swift.
Our book is remarkable, not only for its great age and surprisingly good condition, but because it is not tucked away in the depths of a library somewhere, as most others seem to be. Its marbled paper-covered boards are age-worn, rubbed and scuffed, and the paper is detaching slightly from the back cover. The leather spine is also very worn, with some loss at both top & bottom, but the gilt lines framing the 5 raised bands are still just visible, and the ghost of a title on a coloured label in the top panel is also present. The front cover has a paper band stapled at the top with what looks like a biro code written on the front. Inside, there are signs of bookworm damage in the first portion of the book, at the top (see photo for worst example). The binding is generally firm with no loose pages, but some points of weakness here & there (front & back cover gutters, end of the Articles/beginning of the Appendix) where the binding string is visible. Pages are clean with no foxing. An ink-written inscription on the second (blank) page is very similar to that seen in our copy of Isaac Newton's Tables, and the two books may have originated from the same collection or library.