1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pecock, Reginald

PECOCK (or Peacock), REGINALD (c. 1395–c. 1460), English prelate and writer, was probably born in Wales, and was educated at Oriel College, Oxford. Having been ordained priest in 1421, he secured a mastership in London in 1431, and soon became prominent by his attacks upon the religious position of the Lollards. In 1444 he became bishop of St Asaph, and six years later bishop of Chichester. He was an adherent of the house of Lancaster and in 1454 became a member of the privy council. In attacking the Lollards Pecock put forward religious views far in advance of his age. 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 Ca.11terbury, Thomas Bourchier, ordered his writings to be examined. This was done and he was found guilty of heresy. He was removed from the privy council and he only saved himself from a painful death by privately, and then publicly (at St Paul's Cross, Dec. 4, 1457), renouncing his opinions. Pecock, who has been called “the only great English theologian of the 15th century,” was then forced to resign his bishopric, and was removed to Thorney Abbey in Cambridgeshire, where he doubtless remained until his death. The bishop's chief work is the famous Repressor of over-much weeting [blaming] of the Clergie, which was issued about 1455. In addition to its great importance in the history of the Lollard movement the Repressor 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 the author is added to the edition of the Repressor published by C. Babington for the Rolls Series in 1860. Pecock's other writings include the Book or Rule of Christian Religion; the Donet, “an introduction to the chief truths of the Christian faith in the form of a dialogue between father and son”; and the Folewer to the Donet. The two last works are extant in manuscript. His Book of Faith has been edited from the manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, by J. L. Morison (Glasgow, 1909). See also John Lewis, Life of Pecock (1744; new ed., 1820).