Henry Whitfield was the son of an eminent lawyer; and, his father designing him for the law, he was educated first in one of the universities, then at the inns of court. He was inclined to religion from a child; and as he grew up to years of maturity, being desirous to he employed in preaching the gospel, he gave up all thoughts of the law, and entered upon the ministerial function. He became minister of Ockham in Surrey; at which place, as also in the adjacent country, his labours were wonderfully blessed in the conversion of souls. During the period of twenty years he remained a conformist, but was highly esteemed by all pious nonconformists, many of whom, under the molestations and persecutions of the bishops, were sheltered under his roof. At length, however, upon mature investigation and thorough conviction, he could no longer conform to the church of England. This soon brought him into those
• Kennel's Chronicle, p. 197, 198. t Ibid. p. 868.
troubles from which he had protected others. He was prosecuted by Archbishop Laud, particularly for refusing to read the Book of Sports.* Mr. Whitfield, being a man of great moderation and self-denial, would not contend with the metropolitical power of the archbishop; but peaceably resigned his benefice and the public charge of his flock. As mere was no prospect of any reformation of the church, nor of his further employ in the ministry in his native country, he sold his estate, and, in the year 1639, retired to New England. Many of his religious friends and acquaintances accompanied him; who, upon their arrival, began a new plantation, and called the place of their settlement Guildford. There they formed themselves into a christian society, choosing Mr. Whitfield to the office of pastor. After sojourning at Guildford eleven years, patiently enduring the hardships of the new colony; and having a pressing invitation to his native country, he returned to England in 1630. On his arrival, he was most cordially received by his old friends, and highly respected by some of the first persons in the nation. He settled in the ministry at Winchester, where he probably continued the rest of his days. He was an excellent preacher, eminent for liberality and self-denial, and appears to have died about the restoration. + He was author of a work entitled, «' Some Help to stir up to Christian Duties," 1636.