The Woodforde Family

A History of the Woodforde Family from 1300



Robert the Puritan - Belief in Sin

In common with prevalent puritan thought he believed that the imbibing of too much alcohol was a sin, and recorded several instances when he refused to participate in the drinking of a toast.  However, occasionally he succumbed to the temptation to take alcohol, usually whilst in the company of more seasoned drinkers.  In consequence he faced both physical discomfort and spiritual guilt:‑ 

" I supped to night with Mr More at the Swan, where I drunke too much wyne with him for it made me litle ill afterward, Oh Lord make me to take heed for time to come."

3 October 1639.

Several brief entries suggest that the diarist occasionally smoked and that again he experienced much guilt because of the habit.  In these very private comments the writer reveals the human side of his nature and his failure to maintain the exacting standards of behaviour which he set for himself.


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Stephen Butt 2004 - rev 29/02/04


The Diary of a Puritan

The diarist, though by nature a man who appears to have been  very self‑disciplined and ‑ by virtue of his legal training ‑ able to debate and discuss emotional subjects in a reasoned manner,  is disparaging about both Catholics and Armenians:‑


"  .. Lord I pray thee purge thy floore blowe away the chaffe that is amongst o(u)r  doctrine & in o(u)r discipline let pop(er)y & Arminianism hide themselves reforme whatever is amisse, looke uppon the imprison(men)ts of thy servants formerly & at this day & uppon all their sufferings & uppon all their prayers & vouchsafe to heare in mercy for the Lords sake. "

21 June 1639.

On the same evening, and as a postscript to this entry, Robert Woodforde recorded that he had  been in "hot dispute with Anthony in St Dunstan's churchyard ag(ains)t Arminianisme". 

Woodforde recorded most of the common saints' days in his diary adjacent to the date of each entry,  but as a puritan he deplored their continued recognition,  as on 21 September 1639,  being the feast of St Matthew:‑

" St Matthewes day to day, oh Lord that we might once leave this dedication of dayes to Saintes & dedicate all o(u)r dayes to thee o(u)r god & to thy service."