Cobbett, William

[William Cobbett] (1766-1835) Political writer, author of "History of the Protestant Reformation," born Farnham, England; died Guildford. The son of a Surrey farmer, he derived his education mostly from intensive reading. He joined the army in 1784, saw service in Canada, and was discharged in 1791. Passing to the United States, he edited and published in Philadelphia his violently anti-American "Porcupine's Gazette." Shortly after his return to England in 1800, he started publication of the "Parliamentary Debates," which eventually became the "Hansard" of today. His vigorous language brought him several arraignments for libel, and finally a two-years' imprisonment. To escape his debts, he fled to the United States in 1817, and there published his famous English grammar. Returning to England, he successfully contested Oldham for Parliament in 1832, and again in 1834. In his greatest work, the "History of the Protestant Reformation" (1824-1827), he defends the rights of the monasteries against the depredations of Henry VIII and Elizabeth.

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