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John Penry

Penry, John, 1559–93, British Puritan author, an instigator of the Marprelate controversy, b. Wales, grad. Cambridge and Oxford. While at college he became an ardent Puritan. In 1587 his pamphlet assailing the spiritual destitution of the Welsh clergy was seized and burned, and he was briefly imprisoned. Puritans were aroused, and Penry and several associates were helped to set up a hidden printing press from which emerged (1588–89) seven pamphlets attacking alleged evils of the Church of England and its clergy. They appeared under the pseudonym Martin Marprelate; Penry was perhaps the chief author. When his associate John Udall was arrested (1590), Penry fled to Scotland; he returned secretly in 1592. He was arrested, tried on the doubtful charge of writing with intent to excite rebellion, and hanged.

See his Notebook (ed. by A. Peel, 1944); D. J. McGinn, John Penry and the Marprelate Controversy (1966).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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