Penry, John

, or Ap Henry, commonly known by his assumed name of Martin Mar-prelate, or Alar-priest, was born in 1559 in Wales, and studied first at Peterhouse, Cambridge, of which he was A. B. in 1584, and afterwards at Oxford, in which latter university he took the degree of master of arts, and was ordained a priest. Afterwards, meeting with some dissatisfaction, as it is said, and being very warm in his temper, he changed his religion, and became an Anabaptist, or rather a Brownist. He was henceforward a virulent enemy to the church of England, and the hierarchy of that communion, as appears sufficiently by his coarse libels, in which he has shewn his spleen to a great degree. At length, after he had concealed himself for some years, he was apprehended at Stepney, and tried at the King’s-Bench, before sir John Pophain, chief-justice, and the rest of the judges, where he was indicted and condemned for felony, for papers found in his pocket, purporting to be a petition to the queen; and was executed, according to Fuller, at St. Thomas Waterings, in 1593. It appears, that some violence was put upon the laws, even as they then stood, to form a capital accusation against him. For his libels be could not be accused, the legal time for such an accusation having elapsed before he was taken: the papers upon | which he was convicted, contained only an implied denial of the queen’s absolute authority to make, enact, decree, and ordain laws; and implied, merely by avoiding to use those terms, according to the very words of the lordkeeper Puckering. His execution was therefore in a high degree unjust. His chief publications are, 1. “Martin Mar-prelate,” the tract that gave so much offence. 12. “Theses Martinianae,” 8vo. 3. “A view of publicke Wants and Disorders in the service of God, in a Petition to the high court of Parliament,1588, 8vo. 4. “An Exhortation to the Governors and People of Wales, to labour earnestly to have the preaching of the Gospel planted among them,1588, 8vo. 5. “Reformation no Enemy to her Majesty and the State,1590, 4to. 6. “Sir Simon Synod’s Hue and Cry for the Apprehension of young Martin Mar-priest, with Martin’s Echo,” 4to. Most of these, and some others, were full of low scurrility and petulant satire. Several tracts, equally scurrilous, were published against him; as, “Pappe with a Hatchet, or a Country Cuffe for the Idiot Martin to hold his Peace;” “X A Whip for an Ape, or Martin displaied;” and others of the same kind. In the composition of these pamphlets, he is said to have had the assistance of John Udall, John Field, and Job Throckmorton, who published their joint effusions at a private printing press. Penry was a man of some learning and zeal for religion, but in his notions of government, both of church and state, appears to have adopted more wild theories than ever his successors, when in power, attempted to carry into practice. His sentence, however, was unjust, and the enemies of the hierarchy have therefore found it no difficult matter to place John Penry at the head of their list of martyrs. 1

1 Brook’s Lives of tfie Puritans. Strypc’s Life of Grindal, p. 6. Life of Whitgift, p. 289. 295. 343. 346. 409. —Ath. Ox. vol. 1. See an excellent chapler on Martin Mar-pvelate in Jd'Israeli’s Quarrels of Authors, vol. III.