Fenn, John (d.1615) (DNB00)

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FENN, JOHN (d. 1615), catholic divine, brother of James Fenn [q. v.], was a native of Montacute, near Wells, Somersetshire. After being educated in the rudiments of grammar and music as a chorister of Wells Cathedral, he was sent to Winchester School in 1547 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars, p. 127; Addit. MS. 22136, f. 21). He was elected probationer of New College, Oxford, in 1550, and two years later, after being made perpetual fellow, he was appointed to study the civil law. It does not appear whether he took a degree in that faculty. In Queen Mary's reign he became schoolmaster at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, but upon the alteration of religion soon after Elizabeth's accession ‘he was forced thence by the giddy zeal of two Scots, that were then settled in those parts’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, ii. 111). Subsequently he went to the Low Countries, and afterwards studied for four years in Italy, and was ordained priest. Dodd's statement that he was admitted into the English College at Rome is not confirmed by the ‘Diary’ of the college. After his return to Flanders he became confessor to the English Augustinian nuns at Louvain. There and in the neighbouring cities he spent about forty years ‘as an exiled person, doing extraordinary benefit in the way he professed’ (ib. p. 113). He died at Louvain on 27 Dec. 1615.

His works are: 1. ‘A learned and very eloquent Treatie, written in Latin by Hieronymous Osorius, Bishop of Sylua in Portugal, wherein he confuteth a certayne Aunswere made by M. Walter Haddon against the Epistle of the said Bishoppe vnto the Queenes Maiestie. Translated into English,’ Louvain, 1568, 16mo. The Bishop of Silva's book was entitled ‘Epistola ad Elizabetham Angliæ Reginam de Religione,’ Paris, 1563, and was translated into English by Richard Shacklock, Antwerp, 1565. Dr. Walter Haddon, master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, wrote a reply to it in Latin, which was translated into English by Abraham Hartwell, London, 1565. 2. ‘Vitæ quorundam Martyrum in Anglia,’ printed in ‘Concertatio Ecclesiæ Catholicæ in Anglia,’ Trèves, 1583, which work was edited by Fenn in conjunction with Father John Gibbons [see Bridgewater, John]. 3. ‘John Fisher his Sermon upon this Sentence of the Prophet Ezechiel, “Lamentationes, Carmen et Væ,” very aptly applyed to the Passion of Christ,’ translated from English into Latin. 4. ‘Sermo de Justitia Pharisæorum et Christianorum,’ translated from Bishop Fisher's ‘Sermon concerning the Righteousness of the Pharisees and Christians,’ printed in Fisher's ‘Opera Omnia.’ Würzburg, 1597. 5. ‘Joannis Episcopi Roffensis Commentarii in Septem Psalmos qui de Pœnitentia inscribuntur,’ also printed in Fisher's ‘Opera Omnia.’ 6. An English translation of the Catechism of the Council of Trent. 7. ‘Instructions how to Meditate the Misteries of the Rosarie of the Virgin Mary,’ n.d. n.p., a translation from the Italian of Gaspar Loarte. 8. ‘A Treatise of Tribulation,’ translated from the Italian of Caccia Guerra. 9. ‘Spiritual Treatises, for the use of the Nuns of the Order of St. Bridget. Collected from divers antient English works.’ 10. ‘The Life of St. Catherine of Sienna,’ translated from the Italian of Dr. Caterinus Senensis, n.p., 1609, 8vo, reprinted with a preface by Father Aylward, of the order of Friar-preachers, London, 1867, 8vo. 11. A Latin translation of Bishop Fisher's ‘Method of Arriving to the Highest Perfection in Religion.’

[Additional MS. 19165, f. 145; Ames's Typographical Antiquities (Herbert), p. 1624; Dodd's Church History of England, i. 510, 531; Douay Diaries, p. 375; Gillow's Bibliographical Dictionary; Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual, pp. 788, 1253, 1736; Oliver's Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 301; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 805; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 277.]

T. C.