Henry Jessey: Early Days

On Henry Jessey, a man we should all know and revere. This is from Vol 1: 129-135 of Edmund Calamy’s The Nonconformist’s Memorial, which was later revised and updated by Samuel Palmer. We will break it into several parts.

Mr. Henry Jessey, M.A. of St. John’s Col. Camb. An account of his life and death was published in 1671, in which there are some things very remarkable. It appears from thence that he was born Sept. 3, 1627, at West Rowton, in Yorkshire, near Cleveland, where his father was minister. He was carefully educated by his parents till he was 17 years of age, when he went to the university; where, after four years diligent study, it pleased God to work a renewing change upon his heart, by the ministry of the word, whereby he was fitted for the employment- for which God designed him, and to which he himself was greatly inclined. Upon the death of his father, who had supplied him according to his ability, he was so straitened as not to have above threepence a day, and yet so did he manage that small pittance, as to spare part of it for hiring books. He continued 6 years in the university, and often used to recollect the benefit of his wellspent time there, with great thankfulness to God. He became well versed in the Hebrew tongue, and the writings of the Rabbies. He also understood Syriac and Chaldee.

He removed from Cambridge in 1624, (though he often went at term-time till he took his degree of A. M.) and was first entertained by old Mr. Brampton Gurdon, of Ajssngton, in Suffolk. In his family he continued about 9 years, improving his time well; and among other studies, applied himself to physic. In 1627 he took orders from the Bp. but was afterwards troubled for the engagements he came under. He preached about the neighborhood as he was invited, and distributed a number of good practical books among the poor. He had several offers of a settlement, but listened to none, till in 1633 he was called to Aughton, nine miles from York, to succced Mr. Alder, who was removed from thence for nonconformity. Mr. Jessey was not likely to continue there long, fince he durst not conform so far as Mr. Alder had done. Accordingly the next year he was removed for not using the ceremonies, and for taking down a crucifix. But he was not useless in God’s vineyard, for Sir M. Boynton, of Barneston, in Yorkshireentertained him to preach there and at Rowsby, a place not far distant.

In 1635 he removed with Sir Matthew to London, and the next year to Hedgeley-House, near Uxbridge, where he had not been long before he was earnestly importuned to take the charge of that congregation, of which Mr. Henry Jacob and Mr. John Latborp had been pastors, which was gathered by Mr. Jacob, in 1616. After much consideration and prayer, he answered their call about Midsummer, 1637, and continued among them till his death.