Toland, John°

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TOLAND, JOHN ° (1670–1722), Irish-born deist, active in the theological and political controversies in England at the beginning of the 18th century. Toland was born in County Donegal, supposedly the illegitimate son of a Roman Catholic priest. At the age of 16 he rejected Catholicism, became a Presbyterian, and studied at Scottish universities. A friend of John Locke, he eventually became a Deist and, later, a Pantheist. Among his many publications was Reasons for Naturalising the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland on the Same Footing with All Other Nations (anonymously published in London in 1714, reprinted 1939). This was not as has frequently been stated a plea for the naturalization of the Jews, but for facilitating the naturalization of foreign-born Jews and thereby attracting them to England. The economic and philosophic arguments that Toland used to demonstrate the utility of the Jews to the country showed a tolerance in advance of his day. Toland also translated into English The Agreement of the Customs of the East Indians with Those of the Jews (London, 1705).


Dubnow, Weltgesch, 7 (1928), 520–3; Roth, Mag Bib, 213, 380; Wiener, in: huca, 16 (1941), 215–42; A. Cohen, Anglo-Jewish Scrapbook (1943), 336–7; J. Toland, Gruende fuer die Einbuergerung der Juden in Grossbritannien und Irland, ed. and tr. by H. Mainusch (Eng. and Ger., 1965), incl. bibl.; Barzilay, in: jss, 21 (1969), 75–81. add. bibliography: odnb online; S.H. Daniel, John Toland: His Methods, Manners, and Mind (1984); R.E. Sullivan, John Toland and the Deist Controversy (1982); Katz, England, 234–36.

[Cecil Roth]