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Peter Gunning

Bishop of Ely
DioceseDiocese of Ely
In office1675–1684
PredecessorBenjamin Lany
SuccessorFrancis Turner
Other post(s)Bishop of Chichester (1670–1675)
Consecration6 March 1670
by Gilbert Sheldon
Personal details
Died(1684-07-06)6 July 1684
BuriedEly Cathedral
EducationThe King's School, Canterbury
Alma materClare College, Cambridge

Peter Gunning (1614 – 6 July 1684) was an English Royalist church leader, Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Ely.


Monument Ely Cathedral.

He was born at Hoo St Werburgh, in Kent, and educated at The King's School, Canterbury and Clare College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1633.[1] Having taken orders, he advocated the Royalist cause eloquently from the pulpit. In 1644, during the English Civil War, he retired to Oxford, and held a chaplaincy at New College until the city surrendered to the Parliamentary forces in 1646. Subsequently he was chaplain, first to the royalist Sir Robert Shirley of Eatington (1629–1656), and then at the Exeter House chapel. After the Restoration in 1660 he was installed as a canon of Canterbury Cathedral. In the same year he returned to Cambridge as Master of Corpus Christi, and was appointed Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity. He also received the livings of Cottesmore, Rutland, and Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire.

In 1661 he became head of St John's College, Cambridge, and was elected Regius Professor of Divinity. While he served as Regius Professor of Divinity he established an Arminian soteriological tradition at Cambridge that was furthered by his successor Joseph Beaumont.[2] He was consecrated bishop of Chichester in 1669, and was translated to the see of Ely in 1674–1675. Holding moderate religious views, he disliked equally Puritanism and Roman Catholicism.


His works are chiefly reports of his disputations, such as that which appears in the Scisme Unmask't (Paris, 1658), in which the definition of a schism is discussed with two Roman Catholic opponents John Spenser and John Lenthall.[3]


A relative of his, Sir Robert Gunning, became a famous diplomat.



  1. ^ "Gunning, Peter (GNN629P)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Tapsell 2012, pp. 48–49.
  3. ^ Pollen 1912.


1893 text

Peter Gunning, afterwards Master of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and successively Bishop of Chichester and Ely. He had continued to read the Liturgy at the chapel at Exeter House when the Parliament was most predominant, for which Cromwell often rebuked him. Evelyn relates that on Christmas Day, 1657, the chapel was surrounded with soldiers, and the congregation taken prisoners, he and his wife being among them. There are several notices of Dr. Gunning in Evelyn’s Diary. When he obtained the mastership of St. John’s College upon the ejection of Dr. Tuckney, he allowed that Nonconformist divine a handsome annuity during his life. He was a great controversialist, and a man of great reading. Burnet says he “was a very honest sincere man, but of no sound judgment, and of no prudence in affairs” (“Hist. of his Own. Time”). He died July 6th, 1684, aged seventy-one.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

9 Annotations

First Reading

language hat  •  Link

Description of Gunning and pre-Restoration Anglican churchgoing
from Bryant's Pepys bio:

"...[Pepys] now [1658-59] transferred his affections to that Church in which he had been born... In one or two obscure corners of London there were still cellars and upper rooms... where the ministers of the banished Church defied the law and read the old Prayer Book to Anglican congregations. These Pepys now began to patronize, setting out on a Sunday morning from Westminster to hear Mr Gunning at Cary House by Exeter 'Change... read his Church's glorious and forbidden liturgy and preach on such subjects as the blessed widowhood of Anne, the mother of the Virgin."

Roger Miller  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary is online at AStext. These are the entries for 1657 including that for December 25th mentioned above.… (Click on re-FRAME to navigate the site.)

The site includes copies of correspondence between Pepys and Evelyn and an as yet partial searchable database of Pepys' meals.

vicente  •  Link

according to this review Gunning was very pro Rome..' Dr. Gunning appeared to lean considerably towards a reconciliation of the church of England to Rome. He used, says Bishop Burnet, all the arts of sophistry in as confident a manner, as if they had been sound reasoning, and was very fond of Popish rituals and ceremonies.…

Pedro.  •  Link

Gunning and the

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Peter Gunning, a man of quick and lively parts, and of uncommon elocution, was one of the most distinguished persons of his time in polemical divinity. He even carried the war into the enemy's quarters, and not only attacked the Papists, but the sectaries of every denomination. As the Bible was the book which he principally studied, he was scarce equalled as a textuary. He was also well read in the fathers and ecclesiastical historians, which his memory enabled him to quote upon every occasion. His zeal for his religion, which was grounded upon the knowledge of it, was indeed extraordinary; but it never carried him to the usual excesses of bigotry; nor was he ever known to hate a man's person, because he was no friend to his tenets. He, soon after the Restoration, succeeded Dr. Tuckney, a nonconformist, in the mastership of St John's college in Cambridge, and in the chair of regius professor of divinity in that university. The ejected professor was surprised to find a generous friend and benefactor in his successor, who settled on him a handsome annuity for life. He and Dr. Pearson were the chief disputants against the Presbyterian divines, at the conference held at the Savoy, in the beginning of this reign. Bishop Burnet informs us, that "he was a dark and perplexed preacher," and that his sermons abounded with Greek and Hebrew, and quotations from the fathers. He was nevertheless admired by the court ladies: the king said, "they admired his preaching, because they did not understand him." Almost all his writings are on subjects of controversy. Ob. 6 July, 1684, Æt. 71.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.

Bill  •  Link

GUNNING. PETER (1614-1684), bishop of Ely; ancestor of the famous beauties; fellow and tutor of Clare Hall, Cambridge, 1633; M.A., 1635; famous as royalist preacher when incumbent of Little St. Mary's; retired to Oxford, 1646; during the Commonwealth celebrated episcopalian service at Exeter Chapel, Strand; D.D., 1660; master of Clare College, Cambridge, and Lady Margaret professor of divinity, 1660; master of St. John's and regius professor, 1661; proctor for Canterbury and Peterborough in the lower house of convocation; prominent in Savoy conference; bishop of Chichester, 1669-75, of Ely, 1675-84; his 'Paschal or Lent Fast' (1662) republished, 1845.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Bill  •  Link

Gunning, Peter, an English prelate born at Hoo in Kent, 1613, and educated at Canterbury school and Clare hall, Cambridge. He became fellow and tutor of his college, and distinguished himself as a preacher, but he exposed himself to the persecution of the parliament, on account of his zeal for the king's service; and when ejected, he returned to Oxford. Here he was made chaplain of New college, and afterwards became tutor to lord Hatton, and sir Francis Compton, and chaplain to sir Robert Shirley, at whose death he obtained the chapel of Exeter-house, Strand. At the restoration his services and sufferings were rewarded; he was created D.D. by the king's mandate and then advanced to a prebend of Canterbury, and successively to the headships of Corpus Christi and St John's college, Cambridge. He was one of the committee for the review of the liturgy and he had a conference with the dissenters at the Savoy in 1661. In 1669 he was made bishop of Chichester, and in 1674 he was translated to Ely, where he died, 6th July 1684, a bachelor. He was buried in his cathedral. Opinions have varied with respect to his character, but it must be confessed, that, though some question, whether his head was as good as his heart, he was distinguished by erudition, piety, and exemplary manners. His charities to public use were great and numerous.
---Universal biography. J. Lemprière, 1810.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.