Cheynell, Francis, an English Nonconformist, was born at Oxford in 1608, and was educated at the University there. He was elected fellow of Merton College in 1629, and took orders; but in 1640 he embraced the side of Parliament, and in 1643 was one of the assembly of divines and rector of Petworth. In 1647 he was made Margaret professor of divinity at Oxford, on leaving which he returned to his rectory at Petworth. At the Restoration (1662) he was deprived of his rectory, and retired to Preston, Sussex, where he died in 1665. He was a strong, if not bitter controvertist, and published, in 1643, The Rise, Growth, and Danger of Socinianism, in which archbishop Laud, Hales of Eton, Chillingworth, and other eminent divines are strongly charged with Socinianism. In 1644, after Chillingworth's death, Cheynell published Chillingworthi Novissima, or the Sickness, Heresy, Death, and
Buurial of William Chillingworth, with a severe, if not abusive dedication to Drs. Bayly, Prideaux, Fell, etc., who had given their imprimatur to Chillingworth's Religion of Protestants. After the dedication follows the narration itself, in which Cheynell relates how he became acquainted with "this man of reason," as he calls Chillingworth; what care he took of him, and how, as his illness increased, "they remembered him in their prayers, and prayed heartily that God would give him new light and new eyes, that he might see, and acknowledge, and recant his error; that he might deny his carnal reason and submit to faith." — New Genesis Biog. Dict. 3:306; Sketch by Dr. Johnson, Gentleman's Mag. March and April, 1755; Calamy, Nonconformist's Memorial, 2:467.