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FENN, JAMES (d. 1584), catholic priest, born at Montacute, near Wells, Somersetshire, became a chorister of New College, Oxford, and afterwards was elected a scholar of Corpus Christi College 31 July 1554, and a fellow of that society 26 Nov. 1558. He was admitted B.A. 22 Nov. 1559, but was ‘put aside’ from that degree and from his place in the college on account of his refusal to take the oath of supremacy (Boase, Register of the Univ. of Oxford, p. 240). Then he settled in Gloucester Hall, where he had several pupils. On being forced to leave Oxford he acted as tutor to the sons of a gentleman in his native county, where he married and had two children. After the death of his wife he became steward to Sir Nicholas Pointz, a catholic gentleman. He arrived at the English College at Rheims on 5 June 1579, was ordained priest at Châlons-sur-Marne on 1 April 1580, and was sent back to labour on the mission in Somersetshire. He was soon apprehended, and although not yet known to be a priest he was loaded with irons. The council ordered him to be brought to London, and after being examined by Secretary Walsingham he was committed to the Marshalsea, where he remained in captivity for two years. His sacerdotal character having been at last discovered, he was brought to trial, and condemned to death on account of his priesthood. He was executed at Tyburn on 12 Feb. 1583–4, together with four other priests.

Two of his brothers were priests, viz. Robert Fenn, B.C.L., who was ejected from his fellowship at New College, Oxford, in 1562, and of whom Bridgewater says that ‘ob Catholicæ veritatis testimonium, exilium, carceres, vincula, et cruciatus immanes constantissimè perpessus est,’ and John Fenn [q. v.]

[Bridgewater's Concertatio Ecclesiæ Catholicæ, pp. 143, 410; Challoner's Missionary Priests (1741), i. 144; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 98; Douay Diaries, pp. 9, 27, 153, 161–4, 261, 291, 422; Historia del glorioso Martirio di diciotto Sacerdoti (Macerata), 1585, p. 208; Oliver's Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 301; Sanders's Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism (Lewis), pp. 319, 371; Stow's Annales (1615), p. 698; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 113; Yepes, Historia de la Persecucion en Inglaterra, p. 498.]

T. C.