John Biddle

1615-1662. Unitarian. Son of a Gloucestershire tailor, he showed precocious talent as a youth. He went to Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1634, where he became a tutor before returning to teach in Gloucester. There his Trinitarian orthodoxy was suspected by the Presbyterian party, and in 1645, his views having been betrayed by a friend, he was imprisoned. In the following year he appeared before a House of Commons committee and in 1647 his Twelve Arguments, clearly refuting accepted teaching about the divinity of the Holy Spirit, was published. In the next five years he was in and out of prison, but when released in 1652 under the act of oblivion, he began to organize a congregation, write catechisms, and publish Socinian books. He came before the authorities again and was sent to the Scilly Isles in 1655, but pleading by powerful friends obtained his release in 1658. In 1662 he was sent once more to prison, where he died.