Biography John Bunyan

John Bunyan

photo of John Bunyan
  • Time Period1628 - 1688
  • PlaceBedford
  • CountryEngland

Poet Biography

Born in the parish of Elstow, in Bedfordshire in November 1628, to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley (Thomas's first wife, Anne Pinney, had died the year before without any surviving children). Being born into a family with some afluence he was well educated throughout his childhood and adolesence.

In 1644 he enlisted in the Parliamentary army, joining with the Newport Pagnell garrison, at the regulation age of sixteen. In 1645 the garrison moved to Leicester. Most probably, it was here that one of Bunyan's comrades was shot. "When I was a soldier, I, with others, were drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it; but when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room; to which, when I had consented, he took my place; and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was shot into the head with a musket bullet, and died." - John Bunyan, from "Grace Abounding"

In June 1645 after seventeen years of marriage, Margaret Bentley, John's mother, dies. Her death is followed within a month by John's sister Margaret. Two months after his wife's death, Thomas Bunyan, John's father, marries his third wife.

In August 1646 the order was given that the Newport Pagnell garrison was to be disbanded, and the soldiers "employed for the service of Ireland".

He returned home from Ireland in 1647 and married his first wife at 20 in 1648

"I changed my condition into a married state, and my mercy was to light upon a wife whose father was counted godly. This woman and I, though we came together as poor as poor might be, not having so much household stuff as a dish or spoon betwixt us both, yet this she had for her part, The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, and The Practice of Piety, which her father had left her when he died." - John Bunyan, from "Grace Abounding"

The first child is born to he marriage in 1650; A daughter born blind named mary

In 1655 he Moved to Bedford and became a deacon of St. John's church. His first wife died soon after move, leaving John with four motherless children.

He Published his first work entitled "Some Gospel Truths Opened" in 1656 followed in 1657 by "Vindication of Gospel Truths". He was then formerly made a preacher soon after this publication.

In 1658 he published a third work entitled "A Few Sighs From Hell". followed in 1659 by "The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded". Soon after this publication he is inprisoned

Publishes "The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded". This is the last book he writes before being placed in prison. charged with "devilishly and perniciously abstaining from coming to Church to hear Divine Service, and for being a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the laws of our sovereign lord and king."

Within approximately eight days of John's arrest, his second wife gives birth, only for the infant to die soon after. "I am but mother-in-law to them, having not been married to him yet full two years. [Elizabeth, John's second wife, spoke this in 1661.] Indeed, I was with child when my husband was first apprehended; but being young, and unaccustomed to such things, said she, I being smayed at the news, fell into labour, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered, but my child died." - John Bunyan's wife, from "A Relation of My Imprisonment"

"Whereupon I continued in prison till the next assizes, which are called MIDSUMMER ASSIZES, being then kept in AUGUST, 1661." - John Bunyan, from "A Relation of My Imprisonment"

His Wife approached the judges in 1662, to ask that her husband's case be considered. She is denied.

The Assizes of 1662. John endeavors to have his name entered in the calendar of offenders, so his case would come before the judges. However, the Clerk of the Peace alters John's entry, thus making it possible for Bunyan to remain in prison for the next four years. whhilst in prison he writes "I Will Pray With the Spirit and With the Understanding Also, or a Discourse Touching Prayer". "A Discourse Touching Prayer". "Christian Behavior". "One Thing Is Needful" "The Holy City", and "The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment" all on single sheets to be sold by his wife and children, to aid them financially.

in response to a letter he received, exhorting him to hold his head above the flood, he wrote a poem entitled "Prison Meditations"

Publishes "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" during a brief period of freedom followed by re-incarceration

"He was let out again, 1666, being the year of the burning of London, and, a little after his release, they took him again at a meeting, and put him in the same jail, where he lay six years more." - Charles Doe, A friend and biographer of John Bunyan.

in 1671 he is released from Bedford prison, after twelve years of imprisonment. His formal pardon is dated September 13, 1672, but he received a royal license to preach five months earlier.

His most famous piece was first published in 1675 with 12 subsequant republications and revisions. "The Pilgrim's Progress" was written during yet another six months of incarceration. After being released the same year, he resumes his pastorate in Bedford.

He Died on August 31, 1688 after Traveling through drenching rain on behalf of a young man, whose father was angry with him. After succeeding his mission, he returns to his lodging on Snow Hill. He then endured ten days of violent fever, before dieing. He was buried in Bunhill Fields.

1691 Charles Doe publishes "An Exposition on the First Ten Chapters of Genesis, and Part of the Eleventh", an unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.