Hugh Paulinus de Cressy

Hugh Paulinus de Cressy

Hugh Paulinus de Cressy (c. 1605 – August 10, 1674) was an English Benedictine monk, whose religious name was Serenus.



He was born at Wakefield, Yorkshire, about 1605. He went to Oxford at the age of fourteen, and in 1626 became a fellow of Merton College. Having taken Anglican orders, he rose to the dignity of dean of Leighlin, Ireland, and canon of Windsor.[1] He also acted as chaplain to Lord Wentworth, afterwards the celebrated earl of Strafford. For some time he travelled abroad as tutor to Lord Falmouth, and in 1646, during a visit to Rome, joined the Roman Catholic Church. At this period he took instruction from Henry Holden, of the Sorbonne.

Cressy entered the Benedictine Order in 1649, and for four years resided at Somerset House as chaplain to Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. He died at West Grinstead on 10 August 1674.


He published his Exornologesis (Paris, 1647), or account of his conversion; it was valued by Roman Catholics as an answer to William Chillingworth's attacks.

Cressy's major work, The Church History of Brittanny or England, from the beginning of Christianity to the Norman Conquest (1st vol. only published, Rouen, 1668), gives an exhaustive account of the foundation of monasteries during the Saxon heptarchy, and asserts that they followed the Benedictine rule, differing in this respect from many historians. The work was criticized by Lord Clarendon, but defended by Anthony à Wood in his Athenae Oxoniensis, who supports Cressy's statement that it was compiled from original manuscripts and from the Annales Ecclesiae of Michael Alford, William Dugdale's Monasticon, and the Decem Scriptores Historiae Anglicanae.

The second part of the history, which has never been printed, was discovered at Douai in 1856. Cressy also edited Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection (London, 1659); Augustine Baker's Sancta Sophia (2 vols, Douai, 1657); and Juliana of Norwich's Sixteen Revelations on the Love of God (1670). These books might have been lost but for Cressy's zeal.

For a complete list of Cressy's works see Joseph Gillow's Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics, vol. i.


  1. ^  "Hugh Paulinus Serenus Cressy". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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