William Paley (1743-1805) was a college fellow at Cambridge University, and a minister in the Church of England. He was a Yorkshireman who aspired to live the simple life of a parish priest, raise a family, and write books. Paley was a good friend and a witty companion, who loved dining, theatre, news and novels. He loved the natural world, and had a special passion for fishing.
Paley gained both fame and notoriety for his writings in his own day, and Paley remains controversial in our time. His philosophical defence of the existence of God, in which he argues that there is an appearance of Design in the natural world, is widely known.
As you explore this website, you will find that there is far more to Paley than this one Big Idea. He cared deeply about the poor, adored children, and in all things Paley searched for ways to increase the happiness of the world.
This website provides resources for research and discussion of Paley’s life and times and his writings.
On this page, to the left, you will find links to an extensive archive of material written by, and about, Paley.
It has seemed expedient, as Paley might say, to initiate the site by providing, first, the memoirs and obituaries which were written in the generation after Paley’s death. In addition to these writings - themselves frequently rare, and unavailable elsewhere on the web - a new summary of the life of William Paley, by the editor, will be provided (in due course) exclusively on this site.
Over time, new materials will be added to the site (with the relevant permissions), many of which have been transcribed and edited after research in record offices and other archives, mostly in the UK.
Links to booksellers and search engines are intended to be provided as an added resource.
Email the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org