Chief figure in the founding and forming of the Unitarian church of Transylvania; b. Kolozsvár (Cluj), Transylvania, c. 1510; d. Déva, Transylvania, Nov. 15, 1579. He was born of a Saxon father and a Hungarian mother. After preliminary studies in the local Franciscan school, Dávid studied in Wittenberg (1545–48) and became the superintendent successively of the Hungarian Evangelical (Lutheran) Church (1557), of the Calvinist Reformed Church (1564), and of the separated antitrinitarian Reformed Church (1566). Court preacher under the Unitarian King John Sigismund, he debated at the diet and in synod for religious toleration. By 1571 the Unitarian Church itself was dividing into two factions. Dávid, the leader of the more radical party, opposed prayer to Christ and sought the restoration of certain Jewish views and practices. In 1579 he was imprisoned for innovations, and he died there. He was later revered as the fountainhead of Hungarian-speaking Unitarianism.
Bibliography: e. jakab, Dávid Ferencz Emléke, 2 v. (Budapest 1879). e. m. wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, 2 v. (Cambridge, Mass. 1945–52), v.2 In Transylvania, England, and America, 16–80.
[g. h. williams]