Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:01 UK

Apology urged over 1593 hanging

Statue of John Penry
A statue of John Penry stands in the village of Llangammarch Wells

The archbishop of Canterbury may be asked to apologise on behalf of the Church of England for the 16th Century hanging of a Welsh puritan.

John Penry was executed in London in 1593 at the instigation of the then archbishop John Whitgift.

Members of the Welsh Independent Chapels in west Carmarthenshire have backed a motion calling on Dr Rowan Williams to "express regret".

They regard Penry, who came from Powys, as "their father in the faith."

The proposal was put before the chapels' quarterly meeting by the Revered J Towyn Jones.

It received unanimous backing and will now go to the annual meeting of the Union of Welsh Independents, which represents 450 Welsh language chapels, for approval in July.

The proposal sated: "We... believe that the martyrdom of John Penry because of his particular religious beliefs was a great wrong.

"The Church of England has never shown any remorse for an act which is still an active injustice in our view.

"We therefore invite the present archbishop of Canterbury, as a just and conscientious Welshman, to express regret, on behalf of the church, for the injustice suffered by John Penry."

Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Rowan Williams will wait for official correspondence before commenting

Archbishop Whitgift's signature was the first affixed to the death warrant that saw Penry executed on 29 May 1593.

Penry was born on a farm near Llangammarch Wells and a statue of him stands in the village today.

The Independent Union's office in Swansea is also named Ty John Penri (John Penry House) in his honour.

A graduate of Cambridge University, he criticised the Church of England for failing to preach the gospel to the people of Wales by not translating enough bibles into Welsh.

Before his arrest he was a member of the Separatist Church in London.

At the time of his execution at the age of 29, he was married with four young daughters and would later become known as 'The Welsh Martyr.'

A spokesman for Dr Williams said he would wait for official correspondence from the Union of Welsh Independents before commenting.


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