Bishop, English philospher of religion; b. Wales, probably Saint David's diocese, between 1392 and 1395;d. Thorney Abbey, 1460 or 1461. He entered Oxford in 1409, took a B.A. in 1413, and in 1414 was elected to a fellowship at Oriel College. By 1424 he was bachelor of theology; by 1444, a doctor of theology. He was ordained in the Diocese of Lincoln (1420 or 1421). On July 19, 1431, he became rector of St. Michael in Riola and master of Whitington College, London, a body of five secular chaplains, two clerks, and four choristers, in the patronage of the Mercers Company. While there, he carried out part of his design to win back the lollards to the orthodox faith through philosphical argument in English and in Latin in the form of expository works outlined in his Afore Crier. The key work of the series was the Book, or Rule of Crysten Religioun: soon after this came the Donet, then the Just Apprising of the Holy Scriptures. These and other works, circulated among his friends before they had received final shape, got him into trouble with conservative theologians, who detected in his "cleer witt" the elements of heresy, particularly when in his New English Creed he propounded a doctrine of belief that could not be reconciled with the classic understanding of the symbol, or creed. Meanwhile at the insistence of his Lancastrian friends he received promotion to the bishopric of saint asaph (1444) and then to chichester (1450). But as a member of a court group of bishops, he became unpopular with the working clergy; and as one who was not prepared to attribute infallibility to the fathers of the church and one who held that bishops were not bound by their office to preach, he incurred the enmity of the powerful and passionate chancellor of Oxford, Thomas Gascoigne. In 1456 his enemies charged him with trying to disturb the faith of England. He was put on trial at the request of the council (October 1457) by a specialist tribunal, convicted before a great council, and forced (December 1457) to repudiate his errors. He was not deprived, having made his peace with Rome, but his enemies continued to pursue him, this time for offenses against the Great Statute of praemunire, and a new inquiry into his books was commissioned (September 1458). Pecock resigned (1458), but he was not allowed to go free. He was confined to the monastery of thorney, limited in his reading to the Sciptures and service books, and not allowed to write.
Bibliography: v. h. greene, Bishop Reginald Pecock (Cambridge, Eng. 1945). t. kelly, Reginald Pecock (Manchester U. diss. 1950). e. f. jacob, "Reynold Pecock, Bishop of Chichester," Proceedings of the British Academy 37 (1951) 121–53. Emden 3:1447–49. e. h. emerson, "Reginald Pecock: Christian Rationalist," Speculum 31 (1956) 235–242.
[e. f. jacob]
Revd Dr William M. Marshall