BIDDLE, JOHN, frequently called the father of English Unitarianism, was born in 1615 at Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. lie was educated at the grammar school of his native town, and then proceeded to Magdalen Hall, Oxford. He graduated as bachelor of arts in 1638 and as master in 1641, and was then appointed to the mastership of the free school in the city of Gloucester. While conducting this school in an admirable manner he diligently prosecuted his theological studies ; and the results he arrived at were of such a nature as to draw down upon him the reprobation of the civic authorities. He circulated privately a tract called Twelve Arguments drawn out of Scripture, wherein the conzmonly-received opinion touching the deity of the Holy Spirit is clearly and fully refuted; and towards the close of 1645 he was summoned before the Parliamentary committee then sitting at Gloucester. By them he was committed to prison, though he was at the time labouring under a dangerous fever. He was released on bail after an imprisonment of some duration, and was then called before the Parliament, which desired to inquire into his views. After tedious proceedings Biddle was committed to custody, in which he remained for five years. During that time the Assembly of Divines at Westminster had discussed his opinions, and in defence he published his Twelve Arguments. The book was at once ordered by Parliament to be seized and burned by the hangman. Notwithstanding this, Biddle issued two tracts, one a Confession of Faith with regard to the Holy Trinity, the other Testimonies of Irencuts, &c., concerning Me one God and the Persons of the Holy Trinity. These were suppressed by Government, and the Assembly of Divines eagerly pressed for the passing of an Act by which heretics like Biddle could be put to death. This, however, was resisted by the army, and by many of the Independent Parliamentarians ; and after the death of the king, Biddle was allowed to reside in Staffordshire under surveillance. In 1651 the general Act of Oblivion gave him complete freedom, and his adherents soon began the practice of meeting regularly for worship on Sundays. They were called Biddellians, or Socinians, or Unitarians, the name which has now become associated with their opinions. Biddle was not left long in peace. He translated some Socinian books, among others the Life of Socinus, and published two catechisms, which excited a fury of indignation against him. He was summoned before the Parliament and imprisoned. The dissolution of that body again set him at liberty for a short time, but he was presently brought up for some expressions used by him in a discussion with a Baptist clergyman. Ile was put upon trial, and was only rescued by Cromwell, who sent him out of the way to one of the Scilly Islands, and after three years released him. But in 1662 he was again arrested, and fined £100. As he was unable to pay this sum, he was at once committed to prison, where fever, caused by the pestilential atmosphere, carried him off on the 22d September 1662.