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It is said that his skill as a violin-player was what attracted his wife Margaret who was from a better family being the only child of Thomas Baker of Rustington and descended from a knightly family of Kent. There he remained for eight months deprived for a part of the time of the use of books and writing materials. His earliest patron was Sir Robert Bruce Cotton the antiquary who seems to have employed him to copy and summarise some of the parliamentary records then held at the Tower of London.
He was known as a polymath showing true intellectual depth and breadth; John Milton hailed Selden in 1644 as "the chief of learned men reputed in this land. John Selden (16 December 1584 – 30 November 1654) was an English jurist and a scholar of England's ancient laws and constitution and scholar of Jewish law.