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Biddle, John

John Biddle, 1615–62, founder of English Unitarianism. From his examination of the Scriptures he lost belief in the doctrine of the Trinity and stated his conclusions in Twelve Arguments Drawn Out of Scripture. When the existence of this paper was made known to the magistrates in 1645, Biddle was imprisoned, as he was frequently thereafter. His Twelve Arguments was suppressed and burned publicly in 1647. Upon the publication of his Two-fold Catechism in 1654, he was tried for his life but received from Oliver Cromwell a sentence of banishment to the Scilly Islands. Returning in 1658, Biddle taught and preached until in 1662 he was again thrown into prison, where he died. His followers were called Biddelians, Socinians, or Unitarians.

See biography by J. Toulmin (1789).

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Biddle, John

Biddle, John (1615–62). Religious controversialist. Biddle, a bright lad from Wotton under Edge (Glos.), was sent to Magdalen College, Oxford, and became a schoolmaster at Gloucester. But he developed and published doubts of the divinity of the Holy Ghost and was repeatedly imprisoned during the Commonwealth, spending 1655–8 in confinement on the Scilly Islands. The Restoration did not assist him and in 1662 he was once more arrested, dying in prison.

J. A. Cannon

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