« Pryce, Robert Vaughan Prynne, William Psalmanazar, George »

Prynne, William

PRYNNE, WILLIAM: Puritan; b. at Swanswick (10 m. e. of Bristol, Somersetshire) in 1600; d. at London Oct. 24, 1669. He was graduated at Oxford University, 1621; studied law; acquired great notoriety by his learned but dull work Histriomastix (London, 1633), against plays, masks, dancing, and the like. For the alleged seditious writing in it he was tried in the Star Chamber (Feb. 7, 1633), and condemned to the loss of his ears, perpetual imprisonment, and to pay a fine of 5,000 pounds. The instigation to this infamous sentence came from Archbishop Laud, whose animosity he had won by writing against Arminianism and the jurisdiction of the bishops. The same court condemned him (June 30, 1637). to branding, and imprisonment in remoter prisons, and another payment of 5,000 pounds, for a fresh seditious and libellous work, News from Ipswich (1639). He was 320released by the Long Parliament, and received in London (Nov. 28, 1640) with a great ovation. Prynne, by a strange turn of affairs, was solicitor in the trial of Laud (1644), and arranged the whole proceedings. He was a stout opponent of the army in the civil war. In 1648 he was elected to parliament from Newport, and, Dec. 4, 1648, there advocated the cause of Charles. He was expelled in 1650 from the House of Commons for his vehement opposition to Cromwell, but readmitted 1659. He promoted the Restoration, and was rewarded with the appointment of keeper of the records in the Tower (1660); and his collection of records is considered a model work. His learning was very great, and he published about 200 books and pamphlets, mostly controversial (the list of his works in the British Museum Catalogue covers twelve pages).

Bibliography: A. A Wood, Athena Oxionienses, ed. P. Bliss, iii. 844, 4 vols., London, 1813–20; DNB, xlvi. 432–437; Encyclopædia Britannica, sub voce; R. E. M. Peach, Annals of the Parish of Swainswick, London, 1890; W. H. Hutton, The English Church (1625–1714), pp. 68–69, 78, 176, London, 1903.

« Pryce, Robert Vaughan Prynne, William Psalmanazar, George »
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