Born: 3 Apr 1593, Montgomery Castle, Powys
Died: 1 Mar 1633
Father: Richard HERBERT
Mother: Magdalen NEWPORT
Married: Jane DANVERS
Born on 3 Apr 1593 in Montgomery, Wales, the fifth son of Richard Herbert, Sheriff of Montgomeryshire and Member of Parliament, by his wife Magdalen Newport. His mother was a friend of the poet John Donne who dedicated his 'Holy Sonnets' to her. Magdalen was the youngest daughter of Sir Richard Newport of High Ercall Shropshire (b. 1518 - d. 12 Sep 1570) and Margaret Bromley (b. 1521 - d. 10 Aug 1598). She was grand daughter of Thomas Bromley, Lord Chief Justice, and sister to Sir Francis Newport of High Arkall, in the county of Salop, grandfather of Francis, Lord Newport, Controller of the King’s Household.
His elder brother was Edward Herbert, the noted philosopher. The second and third brothers were Richard and William, who ventured their lives to purchase honour in the wars of the Low Countries, and died officers in that employment. Charles was the fourth, and died fellow of New College in Oxford. Henry was the sixth, who became a menial servant to the crown in the days of King James, and had continued to be so for fifty years; during all which time he had been Master of the Revels. The seventh son was Thomas, who, being made captain of a ship in that fleet with which Sir Robert Mansell was sent against Algiers, did there show a fortunate and true English valour. The three sisters were all married to persons of worth and plentiful fortunes. During his life George Herbert was greatly influenced by several people, his mother Magdalen Newport, Sir John Donne, Bishop Andrews, and lastly Nicholas Ferrar.
George attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and became the Public Orator of the University, responsible for giving speeches of welcome in Latin to famous visitors, and writing letters of thanks, also in Latin, to acknowledge gifts of books for the University Library. His first verses to be published, in 1612, were two memorial poems in Latin on the death of Prince Henry, the heir apparent. This brought him to the attention of King James I, who granted him an annual allowance, and seemed likely to make him an Ambassador. In 1624 and 1625 Herbert was elected to represent Montgomery in Parliament.
by an unknown artist
However, in 1625 the King died, and George Herbert, who had originally gone to college with the intention of becoming a priest, but had head turned by the prospect of a career at Court, determined anew to seek ordination. In 1626 he was ordained, and became vicar and then rector of the parish of Bemerton and neighboring Fugglestone, not far from Salisbury. That year, at the death of Sir Francis Bacon, who had dedicated his Translation of Certaine Psalmes to Herbert the year before, he contributed a memorial poem in Latin. Herbert's mother died in 1627; her funeral sermon was delivered by Donne. In 1629, Herbert married his step-father's cousin Jane Danvers, and his brother Edward was elevated to the peerage as Lord Herbert of Chirbury.
He served faithfully as a parish priest, diligently visiting his parishioners and bringing them the sacraments when they were ill, and food and clothing when they were in want. He read Morning and Evening Prayer daily in the church, encouraging the congregation to join him when possible, and ringing the church bell before each service so that those who could not come might hear it and pause in their work to join their prayers with his. He used to go once a week to Salisbury to hear Evening Prayer sung there in the cathedral. On one occasion he was late because he had met a man whose horse had fallen with a heavy load, and he stopped, took off his coat, and helped the man to unload the cart, get the horse back on its feet, and then reload the cart. His spontaneous generosity and good will won him the affection of his parishioners. George Herbert rebuilt the church out of his own pocket; he visited the poor, consoled the sick, and sat by the bed of the dying. Herbert became the talk of the countryside in the three short years before he died of consumption on 1 Mar 1633.
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