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20. Anno 1625. The great plague then began to rage in the city. On Whitsun-eve 1625 he came to his mother, told her the danger he conceived of any further stay', then presently to depart; sent for a coach, and that night, she and her family, son John, &c., went to their house at Hertford, twenty miles from London, and so on Whitsun-Monday away to Bourne in Cambridgeshire, to her daughter Collett's.
21. He (N. F.) stayed behind to settle his affairs, and his brother John Ferrar's business, and as soon as may be would go to Gidding, giving order to his brother John Ferrar to make some chambers and lodgings ready. His brother (J. F.) repaired to Gidding (a lordship that his mother had bought a year before), there to make up lodgings, for the house was no better than all ruinated, and unfit every way to be dwelt in.
22. After this Nicholas Ferrar comes to Gidding, and after him his mother, who sends for her whole family to come from Boume to her, her beloved daughter Collett and soon after all her children.
follows. With the loss of £3000 he freed his brother John Ferrar out of troubles and dangers, he was involved in :-and then a prayer of thanksgiving.” The prayer is given from Peckard in the Appendix.
1 The plague was in the next house. Peckard, 169. See Hacket's Life of Williams, ü. 13, Clarke's Lives, &c. (ed. 1677) 400, 401.
Anno 1626. N. F. at this time grew to a full resolution and determination of that thing and course of life he had so often wished for, and longingly desired. And that week before Whitsunday gave himself to a very private retirement, both in his thoughts and in his person, and was observed to fast much, eat sparingly, and sleep little, and on Whitsun-eve he was up all night in his study; but having at other times often used the like, he was not much regarded in it by any. N. F., without acquainting any of his friends (fearing that they might be a hindrance to his determination), having some time before only made his tutor, dean Linsell, acquainted with his mind, who was ravished with joy to hear the determination now to take effect, that he had so long wished and prayed for.
24. In Trinity Sunday early in the morning he went to his tutor, and so they two went to Westminster chapel, his tutor having before spoken with bishop Laud', then, as I take it, bishop of St. David's, to beseech him to be there, and to lay his hands upon him to make him a deacon? For he told his tutor beforehand, he durst not presume to step one inch higher or further. So a deacon he was made. When all was done, his tutor told the bishop he would much joy in the future, that he had laid his hands on such a man, whom he assured him he never had done, nor believed ever should in the future ; and much more he was pleased to say.
1 This is omitted in Laud's Diary. Laud and Linsell had a common patron (bp. Neile), and were close friends (Heylin, Cypr. Angl. 55, 69, 215, and the index to Prynne's Canterburies Doome, 8. v. Lindsey).
3 A far greater distinction was then made between the priesthood and diaconate than there is now: e.g. Herbert retained his sword and silk clothes until he was ordained priest; not till then did he tell his wife, “You are now a minister's wife.”—Walton, xlvii,
25. Towards evening N. F. came home to his mother, and prayed her to hear him read what he had to shew her written in vellum, which he drew forth of his breast, which read was the solemn vow he had therein made to God, written and signed with his own hand, and the effect was : Seeing God had so often heard his most humble petitions, and had delivered him out of many most eminent dangers of soul and body, and now had brought his family out of most desperate calamities, whereinto they might have fallen if His mercy had not been infinite, he should now set himself to serve Hin in such a calling, &c. His mother (and other friends that stood, but were long time silent) then falling upon his neck, most tenderly weeping and kissing him, most affectionately and devoutly blessed him, most heartily praying to God to give him long life, and that he might be filled with God's Holy Spirit daily more and more, to His greater glory, and good of her and his family; adding, I will also, by the help of my God, set myself with more care and diligence than ever to serve our good Lord God, as is all our duties to do, in all we may.
26. This of Nicholas Ferrar becoming a deacon instantly spread over the court and city. Most men wondered; some censured him ; sir Edwin Sandys was amazed at it, yet said, he'll not be the less, but the better able to do the kingdom service in all kinds. Sir Edwin was a most wise man, and loved him entirely, and esteemed him above what my words can express.
And this his good opinion of Nicholas Ferrar continued to his dying day, though they lived far asunder. Witness his charge to his lady at his death', whom he made his executrix, to take Nicholas Ferrar's counsel in all the managing of his will and her affairs. 27
While Nicholas Ferrar was in London, returning to Gidding, the lords of the Virginia company hearing what he had done, as to become a deacon, supposing that now, though he had refused temporal preferments, he could not refuse spiritual, they parled with sir Edwin Sandys, that he would confer with him; and one of the lordsø said, I will give him a living worth £400 per an., if he would take it. The other, not knowing of the other lord's intentions, told sir Edwin, that he would help Nicholas Ferrar to a living of £300 per an.; or if he would not accept of that, if he would but come and live with him in his house as his friend and companion, he would allow him £200 per an., only for his company. Sir Edwin was earnest with him to accept of the offers, but Nicholas Ferrar excused himself as unworthy, and his determination was to spend his life and time and talent in his own family', for whose benefit and help he had now parted with all his worldly estate amongst them: and so besought sir Edwin to give those noble lords all due and humble thanks for their undeserved good opinions of him.
1 Early in Oct. 1629 (Wood's Athence, ü. 474). An interesting memorial of the friendship of Sandys and Ferrar is still preserved in the silver flagon at Little Gidding church. See Appendix.
2 The two lords were the marquis of Hamilton and the earl of Pembroke (Peckard, 176).
28. And now I shall offer to our historian the particular actions and more punctual actions of each day in the week, and what was performed by the family in their course of life. And to begin with the first and best day of the week, the Lord's day or Sunday, the action of that being different from those of the week-days. For matter of early rising that day, it was like that of the week, commonly about five o'clock in winter and four in summer. The daughters and younger children risen, having given God thanks for that night's preservation, and making them decently and speedily
i“My disposition chiefly inclining me to a life of devotional retirement, about which I did love to talk with worthy Mr. Thristcross, who knew Mr. Ferrar and Little Gidding, wishing there had been an increase of religious societies." Worthington's Diary, i. 219 (in a letter to Dr. Sterne, Oct. 19, 1660).