John Bunyan

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John Bunyan (28 November 1628 – 31 August 1688) was an English Christian writer and preacher, famous for writing Pilgrim's Progress. Though he was a Reformed Baptist, in the Church of England he is remembered with a Lesser Festival on 30 August, and on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on August 29.



In 1628, John Bunyan was born to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley at Bunyan's End, in the parish of Elstow, Bedfordshire, England. Bunyan's End was located approximately halfway between the hamlet of Harrowden (one mile southeast of Bedford) and Elstow's High Street.

He is recorded in the Elstow parish register as having been baptised John Bunyan, on 30 November 1628.

In 1623, Thomas had married his first wife and, like his father before him, would marry two more times within months of being widowed. On May 23, 1627, Thomas married Margaret Bentley. Like Thomas, Margaret was from Elstow and she was also born in 1603. In 1628, Margaret's sister, Rose Bentley, married Thomas' half-brother Edward Bunyan. They were working-class people, with Thomas earning a living as a chapman but he may also have been a brazier - one who makes and/or mends kettles and pots. Bunyan wrote of his modest origins, "My descent was of a low and inconsiderable generation, my father's house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families of the land".

John was probably educated at his father's house, possibly with other poor country boys, but in his writings he refers to his days in school. So he must also have spent some time at a school, possibly the one in Houghton Conquest Some think that Bunyan may have attended Bedford Grammar School but some records show that only pupils living in the Borough of Bedford were eligible for a place there. Either way, his later writings demonstrate a high degree of English literacy.

Like his father, John chose a job 'on the road', by adopting the trade of Tinker. This was a fairly skilled but lowly occupation. As few people could afford to purchase new pots when old ones became holed, they were mended time and time again. Therefore the arrival of a tinker was often be a welcome sight but the semi-nomadic nature of their life lead to Tinkers being regarded (by some) in the same poor light as gypsies.

1644 was an eventful year for the Bunyan family - in June John lost his mother and, in July, his sister Margaret died. Then his father married (for the third time) to Anne Pinney (or Purney)and a stepbrother, Charles, was born.

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