A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Prynne, William

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Prynne, William (1600-1669). -- Controversial writer, b. near Bath, ed. at Oxf., studied law at Lincoln's Inn, of which he became a bencher, but soon became immersed in the writing of controversial pamphlets. After the Unloveliness of Lovelocks and Health's Sicknesse (1627-30) appeared his best known controversial work, Histrio-Mastix, or a Scourge for Stage Players (1633), a bitter attack on most of the popular amusements of the day. It was punished with inhuman severity. P. was brought before the Star Chamber, fined £5000, pilloried, and had both his ears cut off. Undeterred by this he issued from his prison a fierce attack upon Laud and the hierarchy, for which he was again fined, pilloried, and branded on both cheeks with the letters S.L. (seditious libeller). Removed to Carnarvon Castle he remained there until liberated in 1641 by the Long Parliament. He soon after became a member of the House, and joined with extreme, but not inexcusable, rancour page 310in the prosecution of Laud. After this he turned his attention to the Independents, whom he hated scarcely less than the Prelatists, and was among those expelled from the House of Commons by Cromwell, whom he had opposed in regard to the execution of the King with such asperity that he again suffered imprisonment, from which he was released in 1652. He supported the Restoration, and was by Charles II. appointed Keeper of the Records in the Tower. Here he did good service by compiling the Calendar of Parliamentary Writs and Records. He pub. in all about 200 books and pamphlets.