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Cressy, Hugh Paulinus De

CRESSY, HUGH PAULINUS DE (c. 1605-1674), English Benedictine monk, whose religious name was Serenus, was born at Wakefield, Yorkshire, about 1605. He went to Oxford at the age of fourteen, and in 1626 became a fellow of Merton College. Having taken orders, he rose to the dignity of dean of Leighlin, Ireland, and canon of Windsor. He also acted as chaplain to Lord Wentworth, afterwards the celebrated earl of Strafford. For some time he travelled abroad as tutor to Lord Falmouth, and in 1646, during a visit to Rome, joined the Roman Catholic Church. In the following year he published his Exomologesis (Paris, 1647), or account of his conversion, which was highly valued by Roman Catholics as an answer to William Chillingworth's attacks. Cressy entered the Benedictine Order in 1649, and for four years resided at Somerset House as chaplain to Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. He died at West Grinstead on the 10th of August 1674. Cressy's chief work, The Church History of Brittanny or England, from the beginning of Christianity to the Norman Conquest (1st vol. only published, Rouen, 1668), gives an exhaustive account of the foundation of monasteries during the Saxon heptarchy, and asserts that they followed the Benedictine rule, differing in this respect from many historians. The work was much criticized by Lord Clarendon, but defended by Antony à Wood in his Athenae Oxoniensis, who supports Cressy's statement that it was compiled from original MSS. and from the Annales Ecclesiae Britannicae of Michael Alford, Dugdale's Monasticon, and the Decem Scriptores Historiae Anglicanae. The second part of the history, which has never been printed, was discovered at Douai in 1856. To Roman Catholics Cressy's name is familiar as the editor of Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection (London, 1659); of Father A. Baker's Sancta Sophia (2 vols., Douai, 1657); and of Juliana of Norwich's Sixteen Revelations on the Love of God (1670). These books, which would have been lost but for Cressy's zeal, have been frequently reprinted, and have been favourably regarded by a section of the Anglican Church.

For a complete list of Cressy's works see J. Gillow's Bibl. Dict. of Eng. Catholics, vol. i.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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