William Fenner, B. D.—This excellent puritan was born in the year 1600, and educated in Pembroke-hall, Cambridge; but took his degree in divinity at Oxford. He entered upon his stated ministerial exercise at Sedglcy in Staffordshire, where the Lord greatly blessed his labours. The parish is very large and populous; and, previous to his settlement, was a very heathenish place; but by his holy life and faithful preaching, during the period of four years, many persons were turned to righteousness. Being at length forced away, most probably on account of his nonconformity; and being succeeded by a weak' vicar, ignorance and profaneness again returned.t
Mr. Fenner naturally cared for souls; therefore, besides paying the necessary attention to the people of his own particular charge, he took much delight in preaching the gospel from place to place. He was much resorted to as a casuist,J and highly esteemed and admired by some of the nobility, particularly the Earl of Warwick, who became his great friend and patron. In the year 1629, he presented him to the rectory of Rochford in Essex.^ In this , situation he continued the rest of his days, and his life and labours reflected much honour on the grace of God. He
* Baker's MS. Collec. vol. zvii. p. 106.
t Calamy't Coutin. vol. ii. p. I77.
1 Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. ii. p. 182.
i Neweourt's Rrpert. JSccl. Voi. ii. p. 497.
did not entertain his hearers with dry disputes about unprofitable rites and ceremonies, but fed them with the sincere milk of the word.* The Oxford historian says, " he was much admired and followed by the puritanical party." One Mr. Fenner, a puritan minister, was apprehended by Archbishop Laud, and cast into prison, where he remained many years; but he does not appear to be the same person.t Mr. Fenner died about 1640, aged forty years. Mr. Edmund Calamy, one of the ejected nonconformists in 1662, was his successor.} The writings of this pious divine discover much acquaintance with religion in all its parts; and his manner is plain, zealous, and alarming.*.
His Works.—1. The Riches of Grace, 1641.—2. A Treatise of A Sections, 1642.—3. Christ's Alarm to Drowsy Sinners, 1650.— 4. Practical Divinity, 1660.—5. Divine Message to the Elect Soul, 1651.—6. Of wilful Impcnitency, 1651.—7. Of Conscience, 1651.— 8. Hidden Manna, 1652.—And some others.