Reginald Pecock

Reginald Pecock (or Peacock; c. 1395– c. 1461) was an English prelate, scholastic, and writer.

Reginald Pecock
Bishop of Chichester
Appointed23 March 1450
Term endedabout 1461
PredecessorAdam Moleyns
SuccessorJohn Arundel
Consecration14 June 1444
Personal details
Diedc. 1461
Thorney Abbey
Previous postBishop of St. Asaph


Pecock was probably born in Wales and was educated at Oriel College, Oxford.

Having been ordained priest in 1421, Pecock secured a mastership at Whittington College, London, in 1431 where he was also parish priest of St. Michael Paternoster Royal, the adjacent parish church.[citation needed] On 14 June 1444 he was consecrated as Bishop of St Asaph,[1] and translated as Bishop of Chichester on 23 March 1450.[2] In 1454 he became a member of the privy council.

He wrote books of both a pedagogical and polemical nature. His pedagogical books, in which he proposes a wholly new catechism include The Donet, The Follower to the Donet, and The Rule of Christian Religion. He joined the debate on Christian doctrine in his Repressing of Over Mich Wyting [blaming] the Clergie, 1449, and Book of Faith, 1456. These were both more cogent than the Lollard tenets, and sought to stay the Lollard movement by setting aside ecclesiastical infallibility, and taking the appeal to Scripture and reason alone.[3] It was principally Pecock's appeal to reason and his attack on the primacy of episcopal authority for which he was deprived in 1458.

In attacking the Lollards, Pecock put forward the following religious views: 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 Canterbury, Thomas Bourchier, ordered his writings to be examined. This was done and he was found guilty of heresy.

Pecock was removed from the privy council and he publicly (at St Paul's Cross, 4 December 1457), renounced his opinions in accordance with his previously stated opinion about the need for obedience in all matters to the Church hierarchy. Pecock, who has been called "the only great English theologian of the 15th century",[citation needed] was then forced to resign his bishopric in January 1459,[2] and was removed to Thorney Abbey in Cambridgeshire, where he doubtless remained[citation needed] until his death about 1461.[2]

Stained glass window in Chichester Cathedral depicting Reginald Peacock, Ralph of Luffa and Wilfrid, all Bishops of Chichester

The bishop's chief work is the famous Represser of over-much weeting [blaming] of the Clergie, which was issued c. 1449–1455. In addition to its great importance in the history of the Lollard movement the Represser 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 Pecock is added to the edition of the Repressor published by Churchill Babington for the Rolls Series in 1860.

Extant worksEdit

  • The repressing of over mich wyting [blaming] of the Clergie [1449]; by Reginald Pecock; Ed. by Churchill Babington; London, Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860.
  • The Book of Faith (1456), ed. J. L. Morison, (Glasgow, 1909).
  • The Donet, ed. E. V. Hitchcock, (London, 1921).
  • The Follower of the Donet, ed. E. V. Hitchcock (Oxford, 1971).
  • The Repressor of Over Much Blaming of the Clergy, ed. C. Babington, (2 vols, London, 1860).
  • The Reule of Crysten Religioun, by Reginald Pecock ... now first edited from Pierpont Morgan Ms. 519, by William Cabell Greet; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1927; & New York, 1971); Millwood, N.Y., Kraus Reprint, 1987.


  1. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 296
  2. ^ a b c Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 239
  3. ^ Alexander Gordon Heads of English Unitarian History 1895


  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pecock, Reginald". Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 33.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Lowe
Bishop of St. Asaph
Succeeded by
Thomas Bird
Preceded by
Adam Moleyns
Bishop of Chichester
Succeeded by
John Arundel