My First Booke of My Life


My First Booke of My Life

Alice Thornton
Edited and with an introduction by Raymond A. Anselment

Early Modern Cultural Studies Series

362 pages


May 2014


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

An early modern domestic and spiritual memoir, My First Booke of My Life depicts the life of Alice Thornton (1626–1707), a complex, contradictory woman caught in the changing fortunes and social realities of the seventeenth century. Her memoir documents her perspective on the Irish rebellion and English civil war as well as on a plethora of domestic dangers and difficulties: from her reluctant marriage, which sought to rescue the sequestered family estate and clear her brother’s name, to financial crises, to the illnesses and deaths of several family members and six children, to slanderous criticisms of her fidelity and her parenting.


This first complete edition of an autobiographical apologia begins with recollections of Thornton’s childhood and ends with the death of her husband, restoring almost half of the original text omitted from the nineteenth-century edition. The image she fashions of a woman devoted to God and family evolves from the conventional format of the deliverance memoir into a rhetorically sophisticated defense of her life in response to rumored scandal. Inseparable from the praise of God and family is the distinctive sense of identity that emerges from the introduction, text, and annotations, all of which provide a significant contribution to early modern woman’s writing.


Author Bio

Raymond A. Anselment is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Connecticut. He is the author and editor of several books, including The Realms of Apollo: Literature and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England, a Choice Outstanding Academic Book.


“This first modern edition . . . of Alice Thornton’s autobiography is not just important to scholars of early modern history and literature; it is essential.”—Catherine Loomis, author of The Death of Elizabeth I: Remembering and Reconstructing the Virgin Queen


“A valuable addition to the discussion of how early modern people experienced and negotiated grief, loss, and illness.”—Joe Eldridge Carney, author of Fairy Tale Queens: Representations of Early Modern Queenship

Table of Contents



Editorial Principles and Documentation

My First Booke

Bpp Halls Obseruations in his booke of Meditations And Vowes

A Praier

The dedication

The birth of Alice Wandesforde


A Preface to the booke

Vppon my deliuerance from death, by a fall when I was 3 years old

A preseruation in the Meassells

A Preseruation in the smale-Pox, 1631

The first dawning of Gods Spirit in my heart

A deliuerance from a fire in London, 1631

My Mothers goeing into Ireland, 1632, 33, 34, 35

A great deliuerance from drowning In Ireland by a fall out of the Coach

A great deliuerance from a 2d fall att Sr Robert Merideths in Dublin, 1637

A deliuerance from a fire & other remarkables

A dreadfull fire in the Castle of Dublin, 1638

A deliuerance from Ship-Rack in A Passage into Ireland

A thankesgiueing for our deliuerances affter our dangerous passage by Sea

Obseruations vppon seuerall accidents happening in Ireland vppon the Earle of Strafford . . . and on his fatall murder, may 12, 1641

A Relation conserning my Honoured Father, the Lord Deputy Wandesforde, & of his Death, December 3d 1640

Account of the Lord Deputys Death

Meditations & Praier vppon the Death of my Honoured Father

A Praier vppon my fathers Death

A Prayer to be said before wee Receiue, Made by my father before he went into Ireland, 1628

My Mothers Preseruation from the Irish Rebellion, October 23d 1641. A Thankesgiueing for our great deliueration

A thankesgiueing for preseruation from the Rebellion in Ireland, Octb 23, 1641

Vppon my Mothers comming to Weschester from Ireland & of my haueing the Smale Pox

A Thankesgiueing affter my recouery from the smale Pox in weschester, 1642

A discourse of passages & deliuerances of my Mother & vs 3 Children

A deliuerance from a Surfett of Lobster att Richmond, 1643

A Gratefull Remembrance of my beeing preserued from the fury of the warres

A great deliurance from the violence of a Rape from Ierimy Smithson

My deliurance from Drowning in the Riuer att Midlam . . . in the yeare 1644

The death of My Sister Danby, September 30th 1645, att her house at Thorpe

The death of my Cosen Iohn Norton, 1646

The death of Sr Edward Osborne, 1646

The marriage of my Cozen Edmund Norton

The death of my Cosen Edmund Norton

Vppon the beheading of King Charles the Martyr Ian 30th 1648

The death of my cozen Iulian Norton

Vppon the Death of my brother George Wandesforde, March 31, 1651, & of his Sequestration, & other troubles

A Lamentation, & Prayer, vppon the death of my honoured brother George Wandesforde Esquire

Vppon the reconsileing of my two Brothers George & Christopher Wandesford

An Eligie vpon George Wandesford Esqr on his vnfortunate Death, by the Honourable Sr Christopher Wyuill Barronett

Obseruations of Gods goodnesse . . . in the time of the Warres & Distractions

The Marriage of my Cosen Mary Norton

The Marriage of my brother Christopher Wandesforde

The Mariage of Alice Wandesforde, December 15, 1651

A Relation of the Remarkable passages of my Life Since my Marriage

A deliuerance from death that day on which I was married, December 15th 1651

Meditations vpon my deliuerance of my first Childe, & of the great sicknesse followed

A praier & thankesgiueing for my deliuerance of my first Childe August 6th 1652

Vppon the Birth of my Second childe, & Daughter Alice Thornton

A praier & thanksgiueing for my deliuerance of my Second daughter Ian. 3d 1654

Meditations vppon the birth of my 3d childe Eliz. Thornton, borne the 14th of February 1655

A thanksgiueing affter the birth of my 3d childe Betty

The death of my husbands Mother

The death of my husbands father in Law

The death of my husbands brother Richeard Thornton

Meditation vppon the birth of my 4th childe Katherin Thornton Iune 12th 1656

A prayer before the deliuery of my daughter Alice Thornton, Iune the 12th 1656, by Alice Wandesford

A Thankesgiueing affter the deliuery of my Daughter Alice Thornton

Elizabeth Thorntons death, the 5th of September 1656

A Praier After the death of my 3d childe Betty Thornton

Vppon my great fall I had, beeing with childe of my 5th, September 14th 1657

Meditations on the deliuerance of my first Sonne and fifth Childe, Att Hipswell the 10th of December 1657

A praier vpon my preseruation affter the birth of my first Sonn & his death

My Cure of Bleeding at Scarbrough, August 1659

A thanksgiueing affter my recouery

1659. Considerations on the Publike Troubles

A Praier to God for the Church & restoration of the King, Nouember 1659

A Relation conserning my deare & honoured Mother the Lady Wandesforde & of her Death December 10th 1659

The relattion of her sicknesse heere followes

Seuerall Prayers made by my Mother proper for the time of the holy Sacrament as Eiaculations

My deliuery of my Son William, my 6th childe, & of his death

Verses vpon the incertainty of Earthly comfort

A thankesgiuing for the restoration of King Charles the second of his Coronation, May 29th 1660

A Praier & Thanksgiueing for deliuerance from destruction of the Kingdom, 1660

Vppon my Husband & Families Remouall from St Nickolas to Oswold Church, neare Newton, Iune 10, 1660

My greatt Sicknesse att oswoldkirke february 13th 1661

Vppon our comeing to liue at Newton affter the house was built in the yeare 1662, Iune the 10th

Of the grand mercy I had in the first Sacrament at Easte Newton affter we built the house, August 1662

Mr Coluills Settlement of Mr Thorntons Estate, 1662

Vppon my deliuerance of my Sonne Robert Thornton, my 7th Childe, . . . September 19th 1662

A Thanksgiueing affter my deliuerance of my Son Robert

Mr Thorntons Preseruation from drowning, Oct. 1664

Vpon the birth of my 8th Childe Ioyce Thornton Sept. 23d 1665

A Relation of Mr Thorntons dangerous fitt of the Palsie at Steersby No. 16th 1665

A Prayer after Mr Thorntons Recouery, No. 28th 1665

Vppon my deare Ioyce her death Ian. 26, 1665

Vpon my Daughter Alice preseruation in a sirfitt Iune 13th 1665

Of my dangerous Sickenesse, August 16th 1666

The great fire in London

My daughter Katherine Thorntons preseruation in the smale Pox the 29th of Sept. 1666

The death of my Brother Iohn Wandesford, De. 2d 1666

The murder of my Cosen William Norton

My Son Roberts haueing the smale Pox Ian. 5, 1667, and of his recouery perfectly againe

My daughter Alice Thornton her Smale Pox, Ian. 25, 67

My nephew John Dentons smale Pox

The 8th of Aprill 1667 Nally had a Pearle on her Eye

Kate Thornton was preserued from choakeing

Her preseruation from death by a fall

The Murder of my deare Nephew Thomas Danby August 1, 1667

The birth of my Sonne Christopher, my 9th Childe, No. 11, 1667, & of his Death, Dec. 1st 1667

My trouble vpon Seuerall accidents

Considerations vpon Mr Thorntons Seuerall relapses & of the Signing the Childrens Settlement for Portions

On Mrs Anne Danbys going to Hooly Ap. 20, 67

Vppon my Sad condittion & Sicknesse that beffell me by the Slanders Raised against me, Iuly 20th 1668

Vppon my lamentable abuses of fallse slanders raised against me, Iuly 20th 1668

My Son Robert Thornton preserued Iuly 25, 1668

A relation of the last sicknesse and Death of my deare & honoured husband Willm Thornton Esqr . . . September 17th 1668

Prayers & Pettitions vpon this Sad Dispensation of the death of my deare & honoured husband

The Widdowes Praieer for her self & Childeren

Our Sauiours command

Mr Thorntons Motto & my owne

Verces vpon Christ & the Church

Against the feares of Death

An inducement to loue Heauen

A faire-well to the World

My faithfull Soules wish

Vppon Rash Censorers

Verses vpon the loss of my deare brother George Wandesford





Also of Interest