Ramage Family History

Humphrey Fenn

Male 1552 - 1633  (~ 80 years)


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  • Name Humphrey Fenn 
    Born 26 Apr 1552  Wiggenhall St. German's, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Coventry, Co. Warwick, England738 Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 8 Feb 1633  Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, Co. Warwick, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I4444  Ramage | Young Lines
    Last Modified 18 Nov 2011 

    Father Humphrey Fenn,   b. Bef 18 Jan 1568,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Agnes 
    Family ID F1576  Group Sheet

    Family Ann,   bur. 27 Jan 1630, Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, Co. Warwick, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. Ann Fenn,   b. 1575, Coventry, Warwickshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 18 Nov 2011 
    Family ID F1575  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • "(Rev.) Humphrey Fenn (Humphrey) was born on 26 April 1552, according to his will, . . . the location undoubtedly Wiggenhall St. German's, Norfolk. Brief details of his life, and his activities and trials as a Puritan activist, have been in earlier articles. With his spending time imprisoned and being denied privileges afforded conforming pastors, one would expect that he may have died poor. Such was far from the case. Though missing is the part of his will that would have revealed his desires concerning his worldly goods, the inventory survives. Dated 11 February 1633/4, it lists in detail the contents of the house where he lived, and it has the itens he owned in two other houses that he rented out. His own house had nine rooms. The other two houses had seven and nine rooms respectively; he owned furniture in these but not other household goods. The list of contents of one of his rooms, 'the Studie Chamber,' is helpful in understanding Humphrey's interests:
      '4 Pictures in cullord [cupboard?]
      One foulding table. 8 square. one deske.
      one glasse case, one close stoole, one
      boxe wch the Evidences are in, & 2 smale boxes
      His bookes in the same chamber
      80 little pictures. 36 mappes. & other
      paper pictures.' " 1431

      "Humphrey Fenn was a graduate of Cambridge University and a minister with strong Puritan leanings. In 1999 the editors prepared an enlightening follow-up article, 'The Will of Humphrey Fenn of Coventry, co. Warwick, England.' Before his death in 1634, Fenn wrote a will in two parts. The preface, called The Profession of the Faith of Humfrey Fen, is a long diatribe against the practices of the Church of England; it was printed in 1641. The 1999 TAG article contains the printed text. The second part of Fenn's will was apparently about the bequeathal of his property, but because of his ire against the established church, church officials refused to enter a copy of it into the regular books. The 1999 article contains the full text of the printed preface, along with a note that an earlier author cited the original document as P.R.O. S.P. [i.e., Public Record office, State Papers] 16/260/83. Perhaps this was the entire will. Simon Neal, researcher in England, procured a photocopy of the original from the Public Record Office.
      Examination of the copy brought disappointment. It is only 'The prefacy to old Mr Fenns Will,' not the full document. A closer look, however, shows that it has some important differences from the printed version. It was received on 21 Februar 1633/4 '[f]rom my L[or]d B[isho]p of Coventry and Lichfield.' " 1431

      "Humphrey fenn wrote his will in his own hand, without paragraphing. A note in the upper left corner of the first page states: 'Aged 79 yrs 26 Aprill A' 1631.' About two-thirds through the published version (in what was printed as paragraph beginning 'This confession I set downe. . . ') appears 'mine age, which is eighty seven yeares.' The original here has no numbers spelled out. Whatever number was first written is crossed out, and the number 79 is written above it.
      Near the beginning, in the printed version, is 'I have been Preacher fifty and five years.' AGain, the original here has no numbers spelled out. The sentence reads, 'I have been a Preachr for 53 yrs.' The issue is confused, however, by a statement about halfway through the document where the printed version has "I my selfe for the space fo fifty yeares [preached].' The original has a two-digit number here, as in the other places, and the first of the two digits has been written over. The seconf number is definitely 0; the first looks to be a 4 or 5.
      The printed document ends with 'against all gain-sayers.' The original ends: 'against all gainesayers. An 1631. By me Hu'f: Fen.' " 1431

      "Humphrey Fenn, an educated man, probably knew when he was born; thus the present article assigns him the date he designated, 26 April 1552. This coincides well with what has been learned from other records." 1431

      "Assuming that he came from a family for whom chances were good of finding wills that disposed of property, and seeking a clue as to where the family lived, I checked the Prerogative Court of Canterbury will indexes for ideas about locations. The will of a Humfrey Fenne of Old Windsor, Berks, was proved in 1602. It was read, as well as the will discovered to be that of his father, Thomas Fenne, proved in 1591, one of the 'yeomen of her Maiesties Chaumber, Old Windsor, Berks.; [and] Stradbrooke, Suffolk. [PCC 3 Harrington [FHL film #91,984]. Both of these wills were executed in the lifetime of the Rev. Humphrey, but the testators seemd not related to him. These and other wills, however, indicated that an original areas of Fenns was Suffolk. No Humphreys were listed in the many Fenn wills in the Suffolk indexes. The two archdeaconry courts in Suffolk were under the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court of Norwich, which was next consulted. Here, excitingly, was a Humphrey in 1568 [Consistory Court of Norwich 44 Ponder [FHL film #94,904]. And reading revealed that he was the man being sought, father of the university student and staunch Puritan divine." 1431

      "Young Humphrey started his studies at Cambridge on 12 November 1568, when he was 16 years of age. His father's will is dated 26 November 1568. Imagination suggests that his father accompanied this eldest son the forty or so miles south, over the fens (marshy areas), for his entrance to the world of vast knowledge available at the school. Upon father Humphrey's arrival back home, in Wiggenhall St. German's, Norfolk, he likely became concerned that he should make sure young Humphrey would be financially able to stay at Cambridge, and he wrote his will 'withe myne owne hande.' Or maybe his health was already poor, and someone else took young Humphrey to the university. In his will, he mentioned 'this the tyme of my sycknes,' but the illness could have come after son Humphrey's departure. Father Humphrey allowed £60 for his son's education. He detailed it as follows [spelling changed to present usage': 'I will that the said sixty pounds given to the said Jumfry my son shall be paid or bestowed upon him in manner and form following, that is to say ten pounds yearly by the space of six years next after my decesase if the said Hy[m]fry my son shall continue in learning in the university during the said ears; and if he shall depart from learning in the university, before the said six years be expired, then I will the reisdue or so much of the said legacy of sixty pounds to him before given as shall be then unbestowed upon the said Humfrye at his said departure shall be detained, and kept from thenceforth to his use in the hands of my executor until he shall attain and come to his full age of twenty-one years.' " 1431

      "Son Humphrey continued at Cambridge, graduated, and eventually became pastor of one of the large parishes in the faraway city of Coventry, Warwickshire." 1431

      "Fenn, Humphrey. Matric. sizar from Queens', Michs. 1568; B.A. 1572-3; M.A. from Peterhouse, 1576. V. of Holy Trinity, Coventry, 1578. Suffered suspension and imprisonment as a puritan. Returned to Coventry, 1592. Appointed lecturer at St. John the Baptist's, 1624. Buried Feb. 8, 1634, in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Coventry. (Cooper, II. 150; D.N.B.)" 1432

      "Fenn, Humphrey (1543/4– 1634), Church of England clergyman, matriculated as a sizar from Queens' College, Cambridge, on 12 November 1568, and graduated BA in 1573. Nothing is known of his background, which was probably comparatively humble. Having moved to Peterhouse, he proceeded MA in 1576 and began his ministry in Northampton in the same year, immediately establishing a nonconformist reputation. He was imprisoned and, although the inhabitants petitioned the queen on his behalf attesting to the quality of his preaching, it seems that he did not return to the town on his release.

      On 21 February 1578 Fenn succeeded Anthony Fletcher as vicar of Holy Trinity, Coventry. By this time he was married, a daughter being baptized at Holy Trinity in July 1578; nothing certain is known of his wife. In Coventry he became associated with Thomas Cartwright (1535– 1603) and the growing presbyterian movement. A classis was established in Warwickshire around 1583, headed by Cartwright and Fenn, both of whom enjoyed the patronage of the earl of Leicester. At the request of the London puritans he accompanied the earl to represent their grievances to the queen. When Whitgift's three articles were issued in 1583 he refused to subscribe and was suspended. An account of his examination from a manuscript of Roger Morrice (c.1628– 1702) was included by Benjamin Brook in his Lives of the Puritans (1831). Fenn was replaced in Coventry by a Welshman called Griffen, but was restored to his vicarage shortly after 14 July 1585 through the intercession of Leicester. In the same year he accompanied the earl to the Netherlands as a chaplain.

      In 1590 Fenn was again suspended, as a result of his active participation in the Warwickshire classis and his support for the puritan Book of Discipline, to which he, Cartwright, and ten other ministers in the county had subscribed in 1588. He was committed to the Fleet prison and, refusing to take the oath ex officio, was imprisoned for contempt and deprived of his living. His successor, Richard Eaton, was instituted on 12 January 1591. In May that year the attorney-general exhibited a bill against Cartwright, Fenn, and seven others in Star Chamber, and on 13 May they made their first appearance before the court. The defendants denied that in their 'associations' they exercised any jurisdiction or meddled with sedition— a defence which Fenn steadfastly maintained. They were remanded without bail, although James VI of Scotland interceded (12 June) for their release. By December 1591 the case against them had reached stalemate and they petitioned for their release on bail. A further petition in April 1592 was successful. By the autumn Fenn had returned to Warwickshire and was petitioning to be allowed to preach.

      It is not certain that Fenn and his co-defendants were ever completely cleared of the charges against them and the extent to which he was subsequently able to resume his ministry is unclear. He was not restored to the vicarage of Holy Trinity, but Julines Herring (1582– 1644) studied divinity with Fenn after leaving Cambridge and he appeared on one list of proposed representatives for the 1604 Hampton Court conference. The Humphrey Fenn appointed to the Sunday lectureship at St John the Baptist, Bablake, Coventry, on 24 April 1624 was his son, an Oxford MA born in 1582. In 1626 or soon after 'old Mr. Fenn' joined with the mayor and leading citizens in inviting Samuel Clarke (1599– 1683), the martyrologist, to become a lecturer at Coventry (Lives, 5– 6).

      Fenn's will, written in 1631 when he was eighty-seven and had been a preacher for fifty-five years, was prefaced by a profession of his faith declaring that the Church of England maintained 'a shameful schism against all the reformed churches of the gospel' and endorsing a presbyterian system of governance for the church. He died in Coventry early in 1634 and was buried there on 8 February in Holy Trinity churchyard. A fortnight later Archbishop William Laud received from the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield a copy of the controversial preface, which also circulated in manuscript among the godly before its publication as The Last Will and Testament with the Profession of Faith of Humphrey Fenn (1641). Fenn's wife apparently predeceased him; she may be the Anne Fenn buried at Holy Trinity on 27 January 1631. His probate inventory shows that he died a comparatively wealthy man.

      Jan Broadway"1433

      "Fenn, Humphrey (d 1634), puritan divine, was matriculated as sizar of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 12 Nov. 1568, and graduated B.A. in 1573. He migrated to Peterhouse, and graduated M.A. in 1576. In the same year he began his ministry at Northampton, and at once got into trouble for his nonconformity, and was committed to gaol. The inhabitants of Northampton petitioned Queen Elizabeth for his release, giving him a high character as a preacher and a loyal subject.

      On 21 Feb. 1578 he succeeded Anthony Fletcher as vicar of Holy Trinity, Coventry, and became a prominent man in the party headed by Thomas Cartwright (1535– 1603) [q.v.] . At the request of the London puritans he accompanied the Earl of Leicester to represent their grievances to the queen. On the issue of Whitgift's three articles (1583), he refused to subscribe. He was cited to Lambeth (1584), and suspended. An account of his examination is given by Brook, from Roger Morrice's manuscript. His place was taken by 'one Griffen, a Welchman,' between whom and Fenn, according to the manuscript city annals, there was 'a great contention' for the vicarage in 1584 or 1585. Fenn was restored to his vicarage shortly after 14 July 1585, through the intercession of Leicester. But in 1590 he was again suspended, owing to the active part which he took in the 'associations' of the Warwickshire puritan divines, was committed to the Fleet by the high commission, with Cartwright and others, and, refusing the purgation by oath, was deprived. His successor, Richard Eaton, was instituted on 12 Jan. 1591. On 13 May Fenn and his companions were brought before the Star-chamber. Articles, dealing mainly with their 'book of discipline,' were exhibited against them. They denied that in their 'associations' they exercised any jurisdiction, or meddled with sedition. Fenn 'seemed more stiff than Cartwright.' The Star-chamber remanded them without bail. James VI of Scotland interceded (12 June) for their release; on 4 Dec. they petitioned for bail; Fenn's signature stands second in the list, immediately after Cartwright's. In April 1592 they again petitioned for release, this time successfully. (Leicester's letter of thanks is dated 21 May.)

      Fenn returned to Coventry, and resumed his ministry, probably preaching only on week-days. On 24 April 1624 'Mr. Humphrey Fenn, preacher,' was appointed to the Sunday lectureship at St. John the Baptist's (Bablake). This was a new lectureship; the church, which had been in ruins, was repaired in 1608, and a week-day lectureship established in favour of John Oxenbridge. In 1626 or soon after 'old Mr. Fenn' joined with the mayor and leading citizens in inviting Samuel Clarke (1599– 1683) [q.v.] , the martyrologist, to become a lecturer at Coventry. This is the last notice of Fenn. Tong says that he 'spent above forty years' with the Coventry people; we must correct this to 'above fifty,' even if we deduct his enforced absences. He died early in 1633– 4, and was buried on 8 Feb. in Holy Trinity churchyard, Coventry. He seems to have had a son and grandson of the same name.

      His will, made in 1631, was prefaced by 'so full and so open a protestation against the hierarchy and the ceremonies, that the prelatical party would not suffer it to be put among the records of the court when the will was tendred to be proved' (CLARKE, in Life of Julines Herring). On 21 Feb. 1634 a copy of the introduction to the will of 'Humphrey Fen the eldest' was received by Archbishop Laud from the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. This preamble (only) was printed as 'The Last Will and Testament with the Profession of Faith of Humphrey Fenn,' &c., 1641, sm. 8vo (no place of printing).
      Sources

      Fenn's Last Will; Clarke's Lives of Thirty-two Engl. Divines, 1677, p. 190; Clarke's Autobiography, prefixed to Lives, 1683, p. 5; Tong's Dedication of Warren's Funeral Sermon for Joshua Merrell, 1716; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, i. 444 sq., ii. 151 sq.; Strype's Whitgift, 1822, i. 429, ii. 13, 81 sq., iii. 242 sq.; Annals, 1824, iv. 66, 103; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans (Toulmin), 1822, iii. 415 sq., v. App. p. xxvii; Sibree and Caston's Indep. in Warwickshire, 1855, p. 16 sq. (makes his son the lecturer at St. John's); Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr., 1861, ii. 150, 546; Cal. State Papers, Dom. (1634), p. 468; Parish Magazine, Trinity, Coventry, 1881 (July); extract from burial register, per the Rev. F. M. Beaumont.
      A. G.

      Original date of publication: 1888" 1434

      "Here he [Master Julines Herring] had fpecial encouragements in the Ftudy of Divinity, from Mafter Humphrey Fen, famous for his Miniftry and non-conformity at Coventry, (who in the Preface to his laft Will and Teftament, made fo full and fo open a Proteftation againft the Hierarchy and Ceremonies that the Prelatical Party would not fuffer it to be put among the Records of the Court when the Will was tendred to be proved) . . . " 1435

      "In Iuly the next yeare, vz. 1584, some of the Scottish ministers afore spoken of, wnet tot he Act in Oxford . . . 'Here haue beene a good company of godly brethren this Act. Maister Fen, Wilcox, Axton: The Scottish ministers and wee, haue had some meeting and conference, to our great comfort that are here." 1436

      "There was in the same Assembly a great approbation obtained of the foresaid booke of Discipline, as to be a draught of discipline essentiall and necessarie for all times, and certaine articles .. . were then brought forward, treated of and subscribed unto (as Maister Nutter and Maister Cleuely, two that wer then present haue deposed) by Maister Cartwright, Maister Fenne, Maister Wight, who promised to guide themselves by the saide Discipline and according to it, as it is set downe in the said articles" 1436

      "I receiued a letter [Fen to Field] from you in the name of the reft of the brethren: whereby I underftande you ioyninge to gether in choyfc of my felfe, unto the feruice of the Church, under the Earle of Leicefter &c. I am ready to runne, if the Church command me, according to the holy decrees and orders of the Difcipline, &c. the Lord lefus increafe your meetinges with a doublt portion of grace: euen fuch as by you from our head may diftill down to vs, further rcmoued from fo worthy & notable meanes."
      ===============================
      FENN, HUMPHREY (d. 1634), puritan divine, was matriculated as sizar of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 12 Nov. 1568, and graduated B.A. in 1573. He migrated to Peterhouse, and graduated M.A. in 1576. In the same year be began bis ministry at Northampton, and at once got into trouble for his nonconformity, and was committed to gaol. The inhabitants of Northampton petitioned Queen Elizabeth for his release, giving him a high character as a preacher and a loyal subject.
      On 21 Feb. 1578 he succeeded Anthony Fletcher as vicar of Holy Trinity, Coventry, and became a prominent man in the party headed by Thomas Cartwright (1535-1003) [q. v.] At the request of the London puritans he accompanied the Earl of Leicester to represent their grievances to the queen. ()n the issue of Whitgift's three articles (1583), he refused to subscribe. He was cited to Lambeth (1581), and suspended. An account of his examination is given by Brook, from Roger Morrice's manuscript. His place was taken by 'one Grill'en, a Welehman,' between whom and Fenn, according to the manuscript city annals, there was 'a great contention' for the vicarage in 1584 or 1585. Fenn was restored to his vicarage short ly al ter 14 July 158"), through the intercession of Leicester. Hut in 15!K) he was again suspended, owing to the active part which he took in the 'associations'of the Warwickshire puritan divines, was committed to the
      Fleet by the high commission, with Cartwright and others, and, refusing t he purgation by oath, was deprived. His successor, Richard Eaton, was instituted on 12 Jan. 1591. On 13 May Fenn and his companions were brought before the Star-chamber. Articles, deahng mainly with their 'book of discipline,' were exhibited against them. They denied that in their 'associations' they exercised any jurisdiction, or meddled with sedition. Fenn 'seemed more stiff than Cartwright.' The Star-chamber remanded them without bail. James VI of Scotland interceded (12 June) for their release; on 4 Dec. they petitioned for bail; Fenn's signature stands second in the list, immediately after Cartwright's. In April 1592 they again petitioned for release, this time successfully. (Leicester's letter of thanks is dated 21 May.)
      Fenn returned to Coventry, and resumed his ministry, probably preachingonly on weekdays. On 24 April 1024 'Air. Humphrey Fenn, preacher,' was appointed to the Sunday lectureship at St. John the Baptist's (Bablake). This was a new lectureship; the church, which had been in ruins, was repaired in 1008, and a week-day lectureship established in favour of John Oxenbridge. In 1026 or soon after 'old Mr. Fenn' joined with the mayor and leading citizens in inviting Samuel Clarke (1599-1083) [q. v.], the martyrologist, to become a lecturer at Coventry. This is the last notice of Fenn. Tong says that he 'spent above forty years' with the Coventry people; we must correct this to ' above fifty,' even if we deduct his enforced absences. He died early in 1633-4, and was buried on 8 Feb. in Holy Trinity churchyard, Coventry. He seems to have had a son and grandson of the same name.
      His will, made in 163], was prefaced by 'so full and so open a protestation against the hierarchy and the ceremonies, that the prelatical party would not suffer it to be put among the records of the court when the will was tendred to be proved' (clarke, in Life of Julines Herrinr/). On 21 Feb. 1634 a copy of the intn id net ion to the will of ' Humphrey Fen the eldest ' was received by Archbishop Laud from the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. This preamble (only) was printed as 'The Last Will and Testament with the Profession of Faith of Humphrey Fenn,' &C, 1011, sm. 8vo (no place of printing).
      | i'rim's Lust Will; Clarke's Lives of Thirtytwo Kngl. Divines, 1677, p. 190; Clarke'sAutobiograpliy, prefixed to Lives, 1683, p. o; Tong'sDedication of Warren's Funeral Sermon for Joshua Men-ell, 1716; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, i. 4 14 sq., ii. 151 sq.; Strvpe's Whitgift, 1822, i. 429, ii. 13, 81 sq., iii. 242 sq.; Annals,1824, iv. 66, 103; Neal's Hist, of the Puritans (Toulmin), 1822, iii. 415 sq., v. App. p. xxvii; Sibree and Caston's Indep. in Warwickshire, 1855, p. 16 sq. (makes his son the lecturer at St. John's); Cooper's Athenae Cantabr., 1861, ii. 150, 546; Cal. State Papers, Dom. (1634), p. 468; Parish Magazino.Trinity,Coventry, 1881 (July); extract from burial register, pur the Rev. F. M. Beaumont.] A. G.(source:Dictionary of national biography, Volume 18 edited by Sir Leslie Stephen, Sir Sidney Lee)