Pym, John

Pym, John pĭm [key], 1583?–1643, English statesman. A Puritan opposed equally to Roman Catholicism and to Arminianism in the Anglican church, Pym early became prominent in the parliamentary opposition to Charles I. He organized the impeachment (1626) of George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham, and the passage (1628) of the Petition of Right. In the 11-year interval between Parliaments (1629–40), he supported the colonizing ventures of the Providence Island Company in the West Indies. Pym was the unquestioned leader of the House of Commons in the events leading up to the English civil war. His long speech in the Short Parliament (1640) listing popular grievances resulted in the dissolution of that Parliament. Resuming the attack in the Long Parliament (1640), he initiated the prosecution of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford, and of Archbishop Laud; urged the abolition of the courts of high commission and the Star Chamber; proposed the abolition of episcopacy; and played a major role in drafting the Grand Remonstrance (1641). Pym was one of the five members of Commons whom Charles tried to remove (1642) by military arrest. After the outbreak (1642) of the civil war, Pym organized various taxation reforms for Parliament and imposed the first English excise duties. His last important act was the arrangement of an alliance with the Scots, based on English acceptance of the Solemn League and Covenant (1643; see Covenanters).

See biography by J. H. Hexter (1941); study by W. W. MacDonald (1981).

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