Nicholas Ferrar Essay

1250 words - 5 pages

Nicholas Ferrar was assumed to be born in 1592. I have found that his most probable birthdate was in February of 1593. This is due to the usual calendar confusion: England wasnot at that time using the new calendar adopted in October 1582. It was 1593 accordingto our modern calendar, but at the time the new year in England began on the followingMarch 25th.Nicholas Ferrar was one of the more interesting figures in English history. His family wasquite wealthy and were heavily involved in the Virginia Company, which had a RoyalCharter for the plantation of Virginia. People like Sir Walter Raleigh were often visitors tothe family home in London. Ferrars' niece was named Virginia, the first known use of thisname. Ferrar studied at Cambridge and would have gone further with his studies but the damp air of the fens was bad for his health and he traveled to Europe, spending time in the warmer climate of Italy.On his return to England he found his family had fared badly. His brother John had become over extended financially and the Virginia Company was in danger of loosing its charter. Nicholas dedicated himself to saving the family fortune and was successful. He served for a short time as Member of Parliament, where he tried to promote the cause for the Virginia Company. His efforts were in vain for the company lost their charter anyway.Nicholas is given credit for founding a Christian community called the English Protestant Nunnery at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, England. After Ferrar was ordained as a deacon, he retired and started his little community. Ferrar was given help and support with his semi-religious community by John Collet, as well as Collet's wife and fourteen children. They devoted themselves to a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (Matthew 6:2,5,16).The community was founded in 1626, when Nicholas was 34 years old. Banning together, they restored an abandoned church that was being used as a barn. Being of wealthy decent, Ferrar purchased the manor of Little Gidding, a village which had been discarded since the Black Death (a major outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 14th century), a few miles off the Great North Road, and probably recommended by John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln whose palace was in the nearby village of Buckden. About thirty people along with Mary Ferrar (Ferrars' mother) moved into the manor house. Nicholas became spiritual leader of the community.The community was very strict under the supervision of Nicholas. They read daily offices of the Book of Common Prayer, including the recital of the complete Psalter. every day.Day and night there was at least one member of the community kneeling in prayer at the alter, that they were keeping the word, 'Pray without ceasing'. They taught the neighborhood children, and looked after the health and well being of the community. They fasted and in many ways embraced voluntary poverty so that they might have as much money as possible for the relief of the poor. They wrote...

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