John Udall

1560?-1592. Elizabethan Puritan divine, sometimes called “Uvedale.” Educated at Christ's and Trinity College, Cambridge, where one of his friends was John Penry,* he served as a curate from 1584 at Kingston-on-Thames and was soon known as a Puritan. For the publication of his views he was summoned before the Court of High Commission at Lambeth, but was not severely punished. This was due in part to the help of aristocratic friends, such as the countess of Warwick. Still at Kingston, he continued to adopt a critical attitude toward the prelates and the church, and it was noted that he continued his friendship with Penry, who was implicated in the production of the Marprelate Tracts.*

After being deprived of his living in 1588, Udall accepted an invitation to minister at Newcastle-on-Tyne. After a year there he was accused of complicity in the production of the Marprelate Tracts and summoned to appear before the Privy Council in London in January 1590. As a result he was put in prison until July, when he was tried at the Croydon Assizes, accused of the authorship of two anonymous tracts, A Demonstration of the Truth of the Discipline... (1588) and The State of the Church of England (1588). Later he was also tried at Southwark Assizes, found guilty of felony, and sentenced to death. Several eminent people, including Sir Walter Ralegh, tried to get him released. Eventually the governors of the Turkey Company offered to send him to Syria as a chaplain, but in June 1592 when all was set for his release he fell ill and died. Apart from his controversial writings, he did publish important works revealing his skill in Hebrew; the Commentary on Lamentations (1595), for example, was later highly prized by James I of England.