John Selden, an English author, born at Salvington, Sussex, Dec. 16, 1584, died in London, Nov. 30, 1654. He was educated at Oxford, was called to the bar, and became known as "the great dictator of learning of the English nation." He was a member of Ben Jon-son's Literary club. His earliest work, the Analecton Anglo-Britannicon (1615), was written in 1606. He also published "England's Epinomis," Jani Anglorum Fades Altera, and "The Duel or Single Combat" (1610), law treatises; "Titles of Honor" (1614); De Diis Syris (1617); and "History of Tithes" (1618). In the last named work he denied the divine right of the clergy to receive tithes, and was obliged to make a public acknowledgment of his regret at having promulgated his opinions, which however he was careful not to retract. In 1621 he underwent a brief imprisonment for advising the commons to insist upon certain privileges in dispute between themselves and the crown; and in 1625, being then a member of parliament, he took part against the royal favorite, the duke of Buckingham, whom in the succeeding parliament he aided in impeaching. From 1629 to 1634 he was imprisoned in the tower on a charge of sedition.
He had meanwhile produced a variety of works, including his Marmora Arundeliana (1628). In 1635 appeared his Mare Clausum, in answer to the Mare Liberum of Grotius. In the long parliament, to which he was elected in 1640 for the university of Oxford, he frequently sided with the king. He opposed the exclusion of the bishops from the house of peers, and also the condemnation of Strafford, although he was one of the members named to prepare the articles against him. Subsequently he was keeper of the records in the tower, and having subscribed the "Solemn League and Covenant," he was appointed in 1644 one of the 12 commoners chosen commissioners to the admiralty. When it became apparent that the struggle between the crown and the commons could have no peaceful issue, he gradually withdrew from political life. He died at the house of the countess of Kent, to whom he is said to have been married. He is now best known by his "Table Talk," published in 1689 by Richard Milward, his amanuensis. A complete edition of his works, with a memoir by David Wilkins, appeared in 1726 (6 vols. fol.).