Reginald Pecock

Last updated
Reginald Pecock
Bishop of Chichester
Appointed23 March 1450
Term endedabout 1461
Predecessor Adam Moleyns
Successor John Arundel
Consecration14 June 1444
Personal details
Died c. 1461
Thorney Abbey
Previous post(s) Bishop of St. Asaph

Reginald Pecock (or Peacock; c. 1395– c. 1461) was a Welsh prelate, scholastic, and writer.



Pecock was probably born in Laugharne [1] and was educated at Oriel College, Oxford.

Having been ordained priest in 1421, Pecock secured a mastership at Whittington College, London, in 1431 where he was also parish priest of St. Michael Paternoster Royal, the adjacent parish church.[ citation needed ] On 14 June 1444 he was consecrated as Bishop of St Asaph, [2] and translated as Bishop of Chichester on 23 March 1450. [3] In 1454 he became a member of the privy council.

He wrote books of both a pedagogical and polemical nature. His pedagogical books, in which he proposes a wholly new catechism include The Donet, The Follower to the Donet, and The Rule of Christian Religion. He joined the debate on Christian doctrine in his Repressing of Over Mich Wyting [blaming] the Clergie, 1449, and Book of Faith, 1456. These were both more cogent than the Lollard tenets, and sought to stay the Lollard movement by setting aside ecclesiastical infallibility, and taking the appeal to Scripture and reason alone. [4] It was principally Pecock's appeal to reason and his attack on the primacy of episcopal authority for which he was deprived in 1458.

In attacking the Lollards, Pecock put forward the following religious views: he asserted that the Scriptures were not the only standard of right and wrong; he questioned some of the articles of the creed and the infallibility of the Church; he wished "bi cleer witte drawe men into consente of trewe feith otherwise than bi fire and swerd or hangement" and in general he exalted the authority of reason. Owing to these views, the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bourchier, ordered his writings to be examined. This was done and he was found guilty of heresy.

Pecock was removed from the privy council and he publicly (at St Paul's Cross, 4 December 1457), renounced his opinions in accordance with his previously stated opinion about the need for obedience in all matters to the Church hierarchy. Pecock, who has been called "the most prolific English theologian of the 15th century", [5] was then forced to resign his bishopric in January 1459, [3] and was removed to Thorney Abbey in Cambridgeshire, where he doubtless remained[ citation needed ] until his death about 1461. [3]

Stained glass window in Chichester Cathedral depicting Reginald Peacock, Ralph of Luffa and Wilfrid, all Bishops of Chichester Chichestercathedralwindowwilfredluffapeacock.jpg
Stained glass window in Chichester Cathedral depicting Reginald Peacock, Ralph of Luffa and Wilfrid, all Bishops of Chichester

The bishop's chief work is the famous Represser of over-much weeting [blaming] of the Clergie, which was issued c. 1449–1455. In addition to its great importance in the history of the Lollard movement the Represser has an exceptional interest as a model of the English of the time, Pecock being one of the first writers to use the vernacular. In thought and style alike it is the work of a man of learning and ability.

A biography of Pecock is added to the edition of the Repressor published by Churchill Babington for the Rolls Series in 1860.

Extant works


  1. Lloyd, John Edward, ed. (1935), A History of Carmarthenshire, I (1st ed.), Cardiff: London Carmarthenshire Society. p 443
  2. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 296
  3. 1 2 3 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 239
  4. Alexander Gordon Heads of English Unitarian History 1895
  5. Reginald Pecock and Vernacular Theology in Pre-Reformation England, Jennifer Anh-Thư Tran Smith, Univ of Los Angeles 2012, p.ii

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Bourchier (cardinal)</span> 15th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor of England, and cardinal

Thomas Bourchier was a medieval English cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England.

William Courtenay was Archbishop of Canterbury (1381–1396), having previously been Bishop of Hereford and Bishop of London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Waynflete</span> 15th-century English bishop and educator

William Waynflete, born William Patten, was Provost of Eton (1442–1447), Bishop of Winchester (1447–1486) and Lord Chancellor of England (1456–1460). He is best remembered as the founder of Magdalen College and Magdalen College School in Oxford.

Marmaduke Lumley was an English priest, Bishop of Carlisle from 1429 to 1450, and Knight Commander of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He was a son of Ralph de Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley and Eleanor de Neville. He was elected about 5 December 1429, and consecrated on 16 April 1430. He was Bishop of Lincoln for a short time before his death in December 1450. He was educated at University of Cambridge and was appointed Precentor of Lincoln Cathedral in 1425. He also became Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1427 and was Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge from 1429 to 1443. From 1446 to 1449 he served as Lord High Treasurer of England. Lumley's tenure as Lord High Treasurer occurred during the Great Bullion Famine and the Great Slump in England.

William Alnwick was an English Catholic clergyman. He was Bishop of Norwich (1426–1436) and Bishop of Lincoln (1436–1449).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Courtenay</span> 15th-century Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Winchester

Peter Courtenay was Bishop of Exeter (1478–87) and Bishop of Winchester (1487-92), and also had a successful political career during the tumultuous years of the Wars of the Roses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lawrence Booth</span> 15th-century Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England

Lawrence Booth served as Prince-Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England, before being appointed Archbishop of York.

John Fordham was Bishop of Durham and Bishop of Ely.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Booth (bishop)</span> 15th-century Bishop of Exeter

John Booth was a 15th-century English prelate who held numerous appointments in the church and royal service.

John Russell was an English Bishop of Rochester and bishop of Lincoln and Lord Chancellor.

Richard Clifford was a Bishop of London who had previously been Bishop of Worcester, Bishop-elect of Bath and Wells, and Lord Privy Seal.

Nicholas Bubwith (1355-1424) was a Bishop of London, Bishop of Salisbury and Bishop of Bath and Wells as well as Lord Privy Seal and Lord High Treasurer of England.

Reginald Boulers was a medieval Abbot of Gloucester, Bishop of Hereford and Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Hales (bishop of Coventry and Lichfield)</span> 15th-century Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield

John Hales was Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (1459-1490). He was one of the Worthies of Devon of the biographer John Prince (d.1723).

Louis of Luxembourg;. Bishop of Therouanne 1415–1436, Archbishop of Rouen, 1436, Bishop of Ely 1437, Cardinal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Bokyngham</span> 14th-century Bishop of Lincoln

John Bokyngham was a medieval treasury official and Bishop of Lincoln.

Richard de Wentworth was a medieval Bishop of London.

James Goldwell was a medieval Dean of Salisbury and Bishop of Norwich.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Low (bishop)</span> 15th-century Bishop of Rochester and Bishop of St Asaph

John Low or John Lowe was a medieval Bishop of St Asaph and then Bishop of Rochester, in Wales and England respectively. He was an Augustinian monk and opponent of the Lollard movement.

This article is about the particular significance of the century 1401–1500 to Wales and its people.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of St. Asaph
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Chichester
Succeeded by