I was born in the year 1557, in a very fair part of England, at Sherwood Hall, in the county of Stafford. For its comely aspect, commodious chambers, sunny gardens, and the sweet walks in its vicinity, it was as commendable a residence for persons of moderate fortune and contented minds as can well be thought of. Within and without this my paternal home nothing was wanting which might please the eye, or minister to tranquillity of mind and healthful recreation. I reckon it amongst the many favors I have received from a gracious Providence, that the earlier years of my life were spent amidst such fair scenes, and in the society of parents who ever took occasion from earthly things to lead my thoughts to such as are imperishable, and so to stir up in me a love of the Creator, who has stamped his image on this visible world in characters of so great beauty; whilst in the tenderness of those dear parents unto myself I saw, as it were, a type and representation of his paternal love and goodness.
My father was of an ancient family, and allied to such as were of greater note and more wealthy than his own. He had not, as is the manner with many squires of our days, left off residing on his own estate in order to seek after the shows and diversions of London; but had united to a great humility of mind and a singular affection for learning a contentedness of spirit which inclined him to dwell in the place assigned to him by Providence. He had married at an early age, and had ever conformed to the habits of his neighbors in all lawful and kindly ways, and sought no other labors but such as were incidental to the care of his estates, and no recreations but those of study, joined to a moderate pursuit of field-sports and such social diversions as the neighborhood afforded. His outward appearance was rather simple than showy, and his manners grave and composed. When I call to mind the singular modesty of his disposition, and the retiredness of his manners, I often marvel how the force of circumstances and the urging of conscience should have forced one so little by nature inclined to an unsettled mode of life into one which, albeit peaceful in its aims, proved so full of danger and disquiet.