William Prynne: Wikis


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William Prynne

William Prynne (1600 – 24 October 1669) was an English lawyer, author, polemicist, and political figure. He was a prominent Puritan opponent of the church policy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. Although his views on church polity were presbyterian, he became known in the 1640s as an Erastian, arguing for overall state control of religious matters. A prolific writer, he published over 200 books and pamphlets.


Early life

Born at Swainswick, near Bath, Somerset, he was educated at Bath Grammar School and Oriel College, Oxford. He graduated B.A. on 22 January 1621, was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn in the same year, and was called to the bar in 1628. According to Anthony à Wood, he was confirmed in his militant puritanism by the influence of John Preston, who was then lecturer at Lincoln's Inn. In 1627 he published his first book, a theological treatise,[1] followed in the next three years by three others attacking Arminianism and its teachers. In the preface to one of them he appealed to parliament to suppress anything written against Calvinist doctrine and to force the clergy to subscribe the conclusion of the Synod of Dort.[2] Prynne was ever the stark disciplinarian. After arguing that the custom of drinking healths was sinful, he asserted that for men to wear their hair long was 'unseemly and unlawful unto Christians,' while it was 'mannish, unnatural, impudent, and unchristian' for women to cut it short.[3][4]


Like many Puritans he was strongly opposed to stage plays and he included in his Histriomastix (1632) a denunciation of actresses which was widely felt to be an attack of Queen Henrietta Maria. This led to the most famous incidents in his life, but the timing was accidental. About 1624 Prynne had begun a book against stage-plays; on 31 May 1630 he obtained a license to print it, and about November 1632 it was published. Histriomastix is a volume of over a thousand pages, showing that plays were unlawful, incentives to immorality, and condemned by the scriptures, the fathers, modern Christian writers, and the wisest of the heathen philosophers. Fortuitously the queen and her ladies, in January 1633, took part in the performance of Walter Montagu's The Shepherd's Paradise: this was an innovation at court. A passage reflecting on the character of female actors in general was construed as an aspersion on the queen; passages which attacked the spectators of plays and magistrates who failed to suppress them, pointed by references to Nero and other tyrants, were taken as attacks on the king, Charles I.[4]

William Noy as attorney-general instituted proceedings against Prynne in the Star-chamber. After a year's imprisonment in the Tower of London, he was sentenced (17 February 1634) to be imprisoned during life, to be fined £5,000, to be expelled from Lincoln's Inn, to be deprived of his degree by the university of Oxford, and to lose both his ears in the pillory. Prynne was pilloried on 7 May and 10 May. On 11 June he addressed to Archbishop Laud, whom he regarded as his chief persecutor, a letter charging him with illegality and injustice. Laud handed the letter to the attorney-general as material for a new prosecution, but when Prynne was required to own his handwriting, he contrived to get hold of the letter and tore it to pieces. In the Tower Prynne wrote and published anonymous tracts against episcopacy and against the Book of Sports. In one[5] he introduced Noy's recent death as a warning. Elsewhere[6] he attacked prelates in general (1635). An anonymous attack on Matthew Wren, bishop of Norwich[7] brought him again before the Star-chamber. On 14 June 1637 Prynne was sentenced once more to a fine of £5,000, to imprisonment for life, and to lose the rest of his ears. At the proposal of Chief-justice John Finch he was also to be branded on the cheeks with the letters S. L., signifying 'seditious libeller'. Prynne was pilloried on 30 June in company with Henry Burton and John Bastwick, and Prynne was handled barbarously by the executioner. He made, as he returned to his prison, a couple of Latin verses explaining the 'S. L.' with which he was branded to mean 'stigmata laudis' (("sign of praise", or "sign of Laud").[8][4]

His imprisonment was then much closer: no pens and ink, and allowed no books except the Bible, the prayer-book, and some orthodox theology. To isolate him from his friends he was removed first to Carnarvon Castle (July 1637), and then to Mount Orgueil Castle in Jersey. The governor, Sir Philip Carteret, treated Prynne well, which he repaid by defending Carteret's character in 1645 when he was accused as a malignant and a tyrant. He occupied his imprisonment by writing verse.[4]


He was released by the Long Parliament in 1640. The House of Commons declared the two sentences against him illegal, restored him to his degree and to his membership of Lincoln's Inn, and voted him pecuniary reparation (as late as October 1648 he was still trying to collect it). He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War, particularly in the press, and in many pamphlets, while still pursuing the bishops.[4]

In 1643 Prynne became involved in the controversy which followed the surrender of Bristol by Nathaniel Fiennes. Together with his ally Clement Walker, he presented articles of accusation against Fiennes to the House of Commons (15 November 1643), managed the case for the prosecution at the court-martial, which took place in the following December, and secured a condemnation of the offending officer.[9] Prynne was also one of the counsel for the parliament at the trial of Lord Maguire in February 1645.[10][4]

He was able to have the satisfaction of overseeing the trial of William Laud, which was to end in Laud's execution. He collected and arranged evidence to prove the charges against him, bore testimony himself in support of many of them, hunted up witnesses against the archbishop, and assisted the counsel for the prosecution in every way. At the time some thought he was clearly tampering with the witnesses. Prynne had the duty of searching Laud's room in the Tower for papers. He published a redacted edition of Laud's diary[11] and a volume intended to serve as an introduction to his trial.[12] After Laud's execution, Prynne was charged by the House of Commons (4 March 1645) to produce an account of the trial;[13] other controversies prevented him from finishing the book.[4]

In the rapidly shifting climate of opinion of the time, Prynne, having been at the forefront of radical opposition, soon found himself a conservative figure, defending Presbyterianism against the Independents favoured by Oliver Cromwell and the army. From 1644 he wrote pamphlets against Independents.[14] He attacked John Goodwin[15] and crossed his old companion in suffering, Henry Burton.[16] He controverted and denounced John Lilburne, and called on Parliament to crush the sectaries.[17] Prynne was equally hostile to the demands of the presbyterian clergy for the stablishment of their system: Prynne maintained the supremacy of the state over the church. 'Mr. Prynne and the Erastian lawyers are now our remora,' complains Robert Baillie in September 1645. He denied in his pamphlets the right of the clergy to excommunicate or to suspend from the reception of the sacrament except on conditions defined by the laws of the state.[18] He was answered by Samuel Rutherford.[19][4] William M. Lamont writes:

... Prynne had no distrust of power or abstract love of freedom. His pamphlet, The Sword of Christian Majesty, is one of the most blood-curdling pleas for total repressive action from the civil authority in the English language.[20]

Prynne also came into collision with John Milton, whose doctrine on divorce he had denounced, and was replied to by the poet in a passage in his Colasterion. Milton also inserted in the original draft of his sonnet On the Forcers of Conscience a reference to 'marginal Prynne's ears'.[4]

During 1647 the breach between the army and the Parliament turned Prynne's attention from theology to politics. He wrote a number of pamphlets against the army, and championed the cause of the eleven presbyterian leaders whom the army impeached.[21] He also undertook official work. Since February 1644 he had been a member of the committee of accounts, and on 1 May 1647 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the visitation of the university of Oxford. In April 1648 Prynne accompanied Philip Herbert, 5th Earl of Pembroke when he came as chancellor of Oxford to expel recalcitrant heads of houses.[4]

In November 1648 he was elected member for Newport in Cornwall. As soon as he took his seat, he showed his opposition to the army. He urged the Commons to declare them rebels, and argued that concessions made by Charles in the recent treaty were a satisfactory basis for a peace.[22] Two days later Pride's Purge took place. Prynne was arrested by Colonel Thomas Pride and Sir Hardress Waller, and kept prisoner first at an eating-house (called Hell), and then at the Swan and King's Head inns in the Strand.[4]

Pride's Purge to the Restoration

The purged Prynne protested in letters to Lord Fairfax, and by printed declarations on behalf of himself and the other arrested members. He published also a denunciation of the proposed trial of King Charles, being answered by a collection of extracts from his own earlier pamphlets.[23] Released from custody some time in January 1649, Prynne retired to Swanswick, and began a paper war against the new government. He became a thorn in Cromwell's side. He wrote three pamphlets against the engagement to be faithful to the Commonwealth, and proved that neither in conscience, law, nor prudence was he bound to pay the taxes which it imposed.[24] The government retaliated by imprisoning him for nearly three years without a trial. On 30 June 1650 he was arrested and confined, first in Dunster Castle and afterwards in Taunton Castle (12 June 1651) and Pendennis Castle (27 June 1651). He was finally offered his liberty on giving security to the amount of £1,000 that he would henceforward do nothing against the government; but, refusing to make any promise, he was released unconditionally on 18 February 1653.[4]

On his release Prynne returned to pamphleteering. He exposed the machinations of the papists, showed the danger of Quakerism, vindicated the rights of patrons against the triers, and discussed the right limits of the Sabbath.[25] The proposal to lift the thirteenth-century ban on the residence of Jews inspired him with a pamphlet against the scheme. Oliver Cromwell allowed the Jews to return to the British Isles on the condition that the Jews attend compulsory Christian sermons on a Sunday, in order to encourage their conversion to Christianity. Cromwell based this decision on St. Paul's epistle to the Romans 10:15. [26] The offer of the crown to Cromwell by the ' petition and advice' suggested a parallel between Cromwell and Richard III.[27] Similarly, when the Protector set up a House of Lords, Prynne expanded the tract in defence of their rights which he had published in 1648 into an historical treatise of five hundred pages.[28] These writings, however, attracted little attention.[4]

After the fall of Richard Cromwell he regained the popular ear. As soon as the Long Parliament was re-established, Prynne got together a few of the members excluded by Pride's purge and endeavoured to take his place in the house. On 7 May 1659 he was kept back by the guards, but on 9 May he managed to get in, and kept his seat there for a whole sitting. Arthur Haslerig and Sir Henry Vane threatened him, but Prynne told them he had as good right there as either, and had suffered more for the rights of parliament than any of them. They could only get rid of him by adjourning the house, and forcibly keeping him out when it reassembled.[29] On 27 December when the parliament was again restored after its interruption by John Lambert, Prynne and his friends made a fresh attempt to enter, but were once more excluded.[30] From May 1659 to February 1660 he went on publishing tracts on the case of the 'secluded members and attacks on the ref-formed Rump Parliament and the army. Marchamont Nedham, Henry Stubbe, John Rogers, and others printed serious answers to his arguments, while obscure libellers ridiculed him.[31][4]

On 21 February 1660 George Monck ordered the guards of the house to readmit the secluded members. Prynne, girt with an old basket-hilted sword, marched into Westminster Hall at their head; though the effect was spoiled when Sir William Waller tripped on the sword. The house charged him to bring in a bill for the dissolution of the Long parliament. In the debate on the bill Prynne asserted the rights of Charles II of England and claimed that the writs should be issued in his name. He also helped to forward the Restoration by accelerating the passing of the Militia Bill, which placed the control of the forces in the hands of the king's friends. A letter which he addressed to Charles II shows that he was personally thanked by the king for his services.[4]

From 1660

He supported the Restoration, and was rewarded with public office. When the Convention parliament was summoned, Prynne sat for Bath. He was bitter against the regicides and the supporters of the previous government, trying to restrict the scope of the Act of Indemnity. He successfully moved to have Charles Fleetwood excepted, and urged the exclusion of Richard Cromwell and Judge Francis Thorpe. He proposed punitive and financial measures of broad scope, was zealous for the disbanding of the army, and was one of the commissioners appointed to pay it off. In the debates on religion he was one of the leaders of the presbyterians, spoke against the Thirty-nine Articles, denied the claims of the bishops, urged the validity of presbyterian ordination, and supported the bill for turning the king's ecclesiastical declaration into law.[4]

As a politician Prynne was during his latter years of minor importance. Returned again for Bath to the parliament of May 1661, he asserted his presbyterianism by refusing to kneel when the two houses received the sacrament together. A few weeks earlier he had published a pamphlet demanding the revision of the prayer-book, but the new parliament was opposed to any concessions to nonconformity. On 15 July a pamphlet by Prynne against the Corporation Bill was voted scandalous and seditious. In January 1667 Prynne was one of the managers of Lord Mordaunt's impeachment. He spoke several times on Clarendon's impeachment, and opposed the bill for his banishment. On constitutional subjects and points of procedure his opinion had weight, and in 1667 he was privately consulted by the king on the question whether a parliament which had been prorogued could be convened before the day fixed.[4]

He became the Keeper of Records in the Tower of London; as a writer his most lasting works belongs to that period, for the amount of historical material they contain. Histriomastix is the one of his works that receives attention from modern scholars, but for its relevance to English Renaissance theatre. Anthony à Wood found him affable, obliging towards researchers, and courteous in the fashion of the early part of the century. Prynne died unmarried on 24 October 1669.[4]


  • Kirby, Ethyn WIlliams. William Prynne: A Study in Puritanism. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1931.
  • Lamont, William M. Puritanism and Historical Controversy. Montreal, McGill-Queen's Press, 1996.


  1. ^ The Perpetuity of a Regenerate Man's Estate.
  2. ^ A Brief Survey of Mr. Cozens his cozening Devotions.
  3. ^ Health's Sickness. The Unloveliness of Lovelocks, 1628.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s:Prynne, William (DNB00)
  5. ^ A Divine Tragedy lately acted, or a Collection of sundry memorable Examples of God's Judgment upon Sabbath-breakers
  6. ^ In an appendix to John Bastwick's Flagellum Pontificis, and, in A Breviate of the Bishops' intolerable Usurpations
  7. ^ News from Ipswich (1636)
  8. ^ http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/STUpuritans.htm
  9. ^ True and Full Relation of the Trial of Nathaniel Fiennes, 1644.
  10. ^ The Subjection of all Traitors, &c. 1658).
  11. ^ A Breviate of the Life of William Laud
  12. ^ Hidden Works of Darkness brought to Public Light.
  13. ^ Canterburies Doom, or the first part of a complete History of the Commitment, Trial, &c., of William Laud (1646).
  14. ^ Independency Examined, Unmasked, and Refuted, 1644.
  15. ^ Brief Animadversions on Mr John Goodwin's Theomachia, 1644.
  16. ^ Truth triumphing over Falsehood, 1645.
  17. ^ Just Defence of John Bastwick, 1645; The Liar Confounded, 1645; Fresh Discovery of some prodigious new wandering blazing Stars, 1645.
  18. ^ Four Serious Questions, 1644; A Vindication of Four Questions, 1645; Suspension Suspended, 1646; The Sword of Christian Magistracy Supported, 1647.
  19. ^ The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication, 1646.
  20. ^ William M. Lamont, Godly Rule: Politics and Religion 1603-60 (1969), p. 170.
  21. ^ Brief Justification of the Eleven Accused Members, 1647; Full Vindication and Answer of the Eleven Accused Members, 1647; Hypocrites Unmasking, 1647.
  22. ^ The Substance of a Speech made in the House of Commons by William Prynne, the 4th of December, 1648.
  23. ^ True and Perfect Narrative of the Officers and Army's Force upon the Commons House; Brief Memento to the Present Unparliamentary Junto; Mr. Prynne's Charge against the King.
  24. ^ A Legal Vindication of the Liberties of England against all Illegal Taxes and Pretended Acts of Parliament, 1649.
  25. ^ A Brief polemical Dissertation concerning the Lords Day Sabbath, 1655; The Quakers Unmasked, 1655; A New Discovery of some Romish Emissaries, 1656.
  26. ^ A Short Demurrer to the Jews long-discontinued Remitter into England, 1656.
  27. ^ King Richard the Third Revived, 1657.
  28. ^ A Plea for the Lords, 1658.
  29. ^ A True and Perfect Narrative of what was done by Mr. Prynne, &c. , 1659.
  30. ^ Brief Narrative how divers Members of the House of Commons were again shut out, 1660.
  31. ^ The Character or Earmark of Mr. W. Prynne, 1659; A Petition of the Peaceable and well-affected People of the three Nations, &c.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WILLIAM PRYNNE (1600-1669), English parliamentarian, son of Thomas Prynne by Marie Sherston, was born at Swainswick near Bath in 1600. He was educated at Bath Grammar School, matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, in 1618, obtained his B.A. in 1621, was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn the same year, and was called to the Bar in 1628. He was Puritan to the core, with a tenacious memory, a strength of will bordering upon obstinacy, and a want of sympathy with human nature. His first book, The Perpetuity of a Regenerate Man's Estate (1627), defended one of the main Calvinistic positions, and The Unloveliness of Love-locks and Health's Sickness (1628) attacked prevailing fashions without any sense of proportion, treating follies on the same footing as scandalous vices.

In 1629 Prynne came forward as the assailant of Arminianism in doctrine and of ceremonialism in practice, and thus drew down upon himself the anger of Laud. Histrio-mastix, published in 1633, was a violent attack upon stage plays in general, in which the author pointed out that kings and emperors who had favoured the drama had been carried off by violent deaths, which assertion might easily be interpreted as a warning to the king, and applied a disgraceful epithet to actresses, which, as Henrietta Maria was taking part in the rehearsal of a ballet, was supposed to apply to the queen. After a year's imprisonment in the Tower Prynne was sentenced by the star chamber on the 17th of February 1634 to be imprisoned for life, and also to be fined f5000, expelled from Lincoln's Inn, rendered incapable of returning to his profession, degraded from his degree in the university of Oxford, and set in the pillory, where he was to lose both his ears. The latter portion of the sentence was carried out on the 7th of May, and the rest of his punishment inflicted except the exaction of the fine. There is no reason to suppose that his punishment was unpopular. In 1637 he was once more in the star chamber, together with Bastwick and Burton. In A Divine Tragedy lately acted he had attacked the Declaration of Sports, and in News from Ipswich he had assailed Wren and the bishops generally. On the 30th of June a fresh sentence, that had been delivered on the 14th, was executed. The stumps of Prynne's ears were shorn off in the pillory, and he was branded on the cheeks with the letters S.L., meaning "seditious libeller," which Prynne, however, interpreted as "stigmata laudis." He was removed to Carnarvon Castle, and thence to Mont Orgueil Castle in Jersey, where he occupied himself in writing against popery.

Immediately upon the meeting of the Long Parliament in 1640 Prynne was liberated. On the 28th of November he entered London in triumph, and on the 2nd of March 1641, reparation was voted by the Commons, at the expense of his persecutors. Prynne now attacked the bishops and the Roman Catholics and defended the taking up of arms by the parliament. The words "Touch not mine anointed," he declared in the Vindication of Psalm cv. ver. 1g (1642), only commanded kings not to oppress their subjects. In 1643 he took an active part in the proceedings against Nathaniel Fiennes for the surrender of Bristol, and showed a vindictive energy in the prosecution of Archbishop Laud. He manipulated the evidence against him, and having been entrusted with the search of Laud's papers, he published a garbled edition of the archbishop's private "Diary," entitled A Breviate of the Life of Archbishop Laud. He also published Hidden Works of Darkness brought to Light in order to prejudice the archbishop's case, and after his execution, Canterbury's Doom.. . an unfinished account of the trial commissioned by the House of Commons. Prynne supported a national church controlled by the state, and issued a series of tracts against independency, including in his attacks Henry Burton his former fellow sufferer in the pillory, John Lilburne and John Goodwin [e.g. Independence Examined (1644); Brief Animadversions on Mr John Goodwin's Theomachia (1644), &c.]. He denounced Milton's Divorce i at Pleasure, was answered in the Colasterion, and contemptuously referred to in the sonnet "On the Forcers of Conscience." He also opposed violently the Presbyterian system, and denied the right of any Church to excommunicate except by leave of the state [e.g. Four Short Questions (1645); A Vindication of Four Serious Questions (1645)]. He was throughout an enemy of individual freedom in religion.

Prynne took the side of the parliament against the army in 1647, supported the cause of the eleven impeached members, and visited the university of Oxford as one of the parliamentary commissioners. On the 7th of November 1648 Prynne was returned as member for Newport in Cornwall. He at once took part against those who called for the execution of Charles, and on the 6th of December delivered a speech of enormous length in favour of conciliating the king. The result was his inclusion in "Pride's Purge" on the 'morning of the 6th, when, having resisted to military violence, he was imprisoned. After recovering his liberty Prynne retired to Swainswick. On the 7th of June 1649 he was assessed to the monthly contribution laid on the country by parliament. He not only refused to pay, but published A Legal Vindication of the Liberties of England, arguing that no tax could be raised without the consent of the two houses. In the same year he began a long account of ancient parliaments, intended to reflect on the one in existence, and in June 1650 he was imprisoned in Dunster Castle, afterwards at Taunton, and in June 1651 at Pendennis Castle. He was at last offered his discharge on giving a bond of £1000 to do nothing to the prejudice of the commonwealth. This he refused, and an unconditional order for his release was given on the r8th of February 1653. After his release Prynne further expressed his feelings in defence of advowsons and patrons, an attack on the Quakers (1655), and in a pamphlet against the admission of the Jews to England (A Short Demurrer to the Jews) issued in 1656. On the occasion of the offer of the crown to Cromwell he issued King Richard the Third Revived (1657), and on the creation of the new House of Lords A Plea for the Lords (1658).

On the restoration of the Rump Parliament by the army of the 7th of May 1659 fourteen of the secluded members, with Prynne among them, claimed admittance. The claim was refused, but on the 9th, through the inadvertence of the doorkeepers, Prynne, Annesly and Hungerford succeeded in taking their seats. When they were observed the house purposely adjourned for dinner. In the afternoon the doors were found guarded; the secluded members were not permitted to pass, and a vote was at once taken that they should not again be allowed to enter the house. Wrathful at the failure of his protest and at the continuance of the republican government, Prynne attacked his adversaries fiercely in print. In England's Confusion, published on the 30th of May 1659, in the True and Full Narrative, and in The Brief Necessary Vindication, he gave long accounts of the attempt to enter the house and of his ejection, while in the Curtaine Drawne he held up the claims of the Rump to derision. In Shuffling, Cutting and Dealing, 26th of May, he rejoiced at the quarrels which he saw arising, for "if you all complain I hope I shall win at last." Concordia discors pointed out the absurdity of the constant tendency to multiply oaths, while "remonstrances," "narratives," "queries," "prescriptions," "vindications," "declarations" and "statements" were scattered broadcast. Upon the cry of the "good old cause" he is especially sarcastic and severe in The True Good Old Cause Rightly Stated and other pamphlets. Loyalty Banished explains itself. His activity and fearlessness in attacking those in power during this eventful year were remarkable, and an ironical petition was circulated in Westminster Hall and the London streets complaining of his indefatigable scribbling. On the 27th of December Prynne made another fruitless attempt to take his seat. In obedience to the popular voice, however, on the 21st of February 1660, the ejected members of 1648, led in triumph by Prynne, wearing a basket-hilt sword, re-entered the house. He supported the Restoration in this parliament, and in the Convention Parliament, which met on the 25th of April 1660, and in which he sat for Bath, he urged severe measures against the regicides, and the exclusion of several individuals from the Act of Indemnity. He was foremost in support of the claims of the Presbyterians and against the bishops; advocated the indiscriminate infliction of penalties, and demanded that the officials of the commonwealth should be compelled to refund their salaries. He was nominated a commissioner for disbanding the army, and was appointed keeper of the records in the Tower, a post in which he performed useful services.

Prynne was again returned as member for Bath on the 8th of May 1661, in spite of the vehement efforts of the Royalists headed by Sir T. Bridge. This parliament was bent upon the humiliation of the Presbyterians, and Prynne appears in his familiar character of protester. On the 18th of this month he moved that the Engagement, with the Solemn League and Covenant, should be burned by the hangman. About the same time he published a pamphlet advocating the reform of the Prayer Book, while a tract issued on the 15th of July, Sundry reasons against the new intended Bill for governing and reforming Corporations, was declared illegal, false, scandalous and seditious; Prynne being censured, and only escaping punishment by submission. The continued attacks upon the Presbyterians led him to publish his Short, Sober, Pacific Examination of Exuberances in the Common Prayer, as well as the Apology for Tender Consciences touching Not Bowing at the Name of Jesus. In 1662 there appeared also the Brevia parliamentaria rediviva, possibly a portion of the Brief Register of Parliamentary Writs, of which the fourth and concluding volume was published in 1664. During 1663 he served constantly on committees, and was chairman of the committee of supply in July, and again in April 1664.

In the third session Prynne was once more, on the 13th of May 1664, censured for altering the draft of a bill relating to public-houses after commitment, but the house again, upon his submission remitted the offence, and he again appears on the committee of privileges in November and afterwards. In 1665 and 1666 he published the second and first volumes respectively of the Exact Chronological Vindication and Historical Demonstration of the supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction exercised by the English kings from the original planting of Christianity to the death of Richard I. In the latter year especially he was very busy with his pen against the Jesuits. In January 1667 he was one of three appointed to manage the evidence at the hearing of the impeachment of Lord Mordaunt, and in November of the same year spoke in defence of Clarendon, so far as the sale of Dunkirk was concerned, and opposed his banishment, and this appears to have been the last time that he addressed the house. In 1668 was published his Aurum reginae or Records concerning Queen-gold, the Brief Animadversions on Coke's Institutes in 1669, and the History of King John, Henry III. and Edward I., in which the power of the Crown over ecclesiastics was maintained, in 1670. The date of the Abridgment of the Records of the Tower of London, published 1689, is doubtful, though the preface is dated 1656-1657. Prynne died unmarried, in his lodgings at Lincoln's Inn, on the 24th of October 1669, and was buried in the walk under the chapel there. He left one portion of his books to Lincoln's Inn and another to Oriel College. His works number about 200 and occupy, together with the replies which they excited, twenty-four columns in the catalogue of the British Museum. Lists of them are given in Wood's Athenae Oxonienses (ed. P. Bliss), vol. iii., and in Documents relating to the Proceedings against William Prynne. Bibliography. - Article by C. H. Frith in the Diet. of Nat. Biography; Life of Prynne, in Wood's Ath. Oxon., ed. by Bliss, iii. 844; Documents relating to the Proceedings against Prynne, ed. by S. R. Gardiner for the Camden Society (1877); Hist. of Swainswick, by R. E. M. Peach; Gardiner's Hist. of England, of the Civil War and of the Commonwealth; Notes and Queries, 8th series, vol. viii. p. 361 ("Letter to Charles II., May 2, 1660"), 9th series, vol. ii.

P. 33 6. (S. R. G.; P. C. Y.)

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