Penn, James (DNB00)

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PENN, JAMES (1727–1800), divine, son of John Penn, citizen and stationer, of St. Bride's parish, London, was baptised there on 9 June 1727. He was admitted a scholar of Christ's Hospital from the parish of St. Dunstan's in the West in April 1736, and obtained in 1745 an exhibition at Balliol College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 4 July of that year. He proceeded B.A. in 1749, M.A. in 1752. He was elected under grammar master of Christ's Hospital in 1753, and while there compiled a Latin grammar which was for many years in use in the school. In 1756 he was curate of St. Andrew Undershaft, Leadenhall Street, and the next year was curate of the united parishes of St. Ann, St. Agnes, and St. John Zachary.

Penn was a candidate for the upper grammar or head mastership of Christ's Hospital in 1760, but lost the election by one vote. He was appointed by the governors of the hospital to the vicarage of Clavering-cum-Langley, Essex. Penn continued teaching in the school until 1767. From about 1769 until 1779 he was domestic chaplain to Granville, earl Gower. From March 1781 until his death on 15 Aug. 1800 he resided at Clavering-cum-Langley. He was buried in London.

Penn's writings were chiefly miscellaneous tracts and sermons, but some of them show considerable humour and satirical power. They include four volumes of collected tracts, London, 1756; 1757, containing ‘The Fair Sex vindicated from Folly and Extravagance’ (republished singly, London, 1769); 1762 and 1777. ‘By way of Prevention; a Sleepy Sermon, calculated for the Dog-days, with an Address to the Clergy and another to the Laity of the City of London,’ London, 1767, is one of Penn's most characteristic productions. Other works are:

  1. ‘The Farmer's Daughter of Essex,’ London, 1767, 12mo. republished as ‘The Life of Miss Davis, the Farmer's Daughter of Essex.'
  2. ‘The Reasonableness of Repentance, with a Dedication [commencing ‘Tremendous Sir’] to the Devil, and an Address to the Candidates for Hell,’ London, 1768.
  3. ‘Seven Sermons,’ London, 1769, 8vo.
  4. ‘The Surrey Cottage,’ London, 1779, 12mo.

[Works above mentioned; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Wilson's Hist. of Christ's Hospital, pp. 55, 98; List of Exhibitioners at Christ's Hospital, p. 30; Orme's Bibliotheca Biblica, p. 345; Pink's Hist. of Clerkenwell, p. 237; Register of Clavering-cum-Langley, per the Rev. F. Gifford Nash.]

C. F. S.