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TIXALL LETTERS.

PART THE FOURTH.

LETTERS FROM MRS WINEFRID THIMELBY, ABBESS OF

THE ENGLISH CONVENT OF AUGUSTINE NUNS, AT · LOUVAIN, IN FLANDERS, TO THE HONBLE. HERBERT ASTON.

1650-1690.

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THE LETTERS in this Part, with the exception of five or six, were all written by Mrs Winefrid Thimelby, Abbess of the Convent of English Nuns, at Louvain, in Flanders; and were chiefly addressed to the Hon. Herbert Aston, at Bellamore, near Lichfield.

Dodd, in the second volume of his Church History, has given an account of the foundation of several English religious houses in the Low Countries, about the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and during that of James the

First. He says,

Among these, was the monastery of Augustine Nuns, in Louvain, first established by Mrs Mary Wiseman, in the VOL, II.

A

year 1619. She, with several other English Ladies, had been professed in St Ursula's monastery, a house of Flemish Nuns, in Louvain. But being desirous to lay the foun dation of a community for those of their own country, they applied to the bishop of the diocese, and having his leave, they purchased a building, with other conveniencies, which they called by the name of St Monica's monastery. The bishop, at first, seemed very unwilling to admit of this new establishment, apprehending they might be burdensome to the town, on account of their slender revenues. But Dr Clement, an English clergyman, dean of St Gudules, in Bruges, became a generous benefactor; and Mr Worthington, of Blaiņscoe, in Lancashire (who resided at that time in Louvain, with his whole family), engaging to make good all deficiencies, that difficulty was removed.”. -DODD's Church History, vol. ii, p. 341.

In the third volume, p. 479, he has given the following short notice of Mrs Winefrid Thimelby:

“ Winefrid Thimelby, daughter of Richard Thimelby, of Irnham, in Lincolnshire. She became a nun in the Eng. lish monastery of St Augustine's order, in Louvain, where she was chosen the third superior. She died August 31, 1690, in the 72d year of her age, and 55 after her profession, having been superior 22 years."

From these dates, it appears, that Mrs Winefrid Thimelby was born in the year 1619, that she was professed a nun in 1635, at the early age of sixteen; and that she became superior of her convent in 1668, in the forty-ninth year of

her age.

Besides these letters, she was author of a small volume of devotion, which is preserved in manuscript in the library at Tixall. It is written in the same hand as the letters, but larger and neater; with scarce a blot or erasure from beginning to end. On a blank leaf at the beginning, there is written, “ Gertrude Aston's book, given her by her Revd. Mother, and Aunt Winefrid Thimelby, 1671." *

The title of the work is, “ Meditations of the principal obligations of a Christian, taken out of the scriptures, councils, and fathers." There are in all twenty-four meditations, at the end of each is a' reflection, and then a prayer. In a short preface, entitled, “ Advice to the Reader,” she says, that she “ordained them for particular persons without any design of making them public. It hath since been believed, that they might prove profitable to many if they were put forth for the common use of Christians, and that for two

reasons.

“ The first, because here are unfolded many important points of Christian morality, which are not ordinarily known in the world ; in so much, that they may serve to instruct many persons of their principal duties, and teach them (what it may be, they do not comprehend) what it is to be a true Christian.

“ The second is, that these meditations and prayers are not built upon vain and barren thoughts, neither do they endeavour to make us believe ourselves saints, for having joined a superficial exercise of devotion, to all the passions and interests of the world: but they tend to establish in

* The superior of a nunnery is generally called, The Reve. rend Mother.

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