Henry More


Biography of Henry More

Henry More (October 12, 1614 – September 1, 1687) was an English philosopher of the Cambridge Platonist school.

Henry was born at Grantham and was schooled at The King's School, Grantham and at Eton College. Both his parents were Calvinists but he himself "could never swallow that hard doctrine." In 1631 he entered Christ's College, Cambridge, at about the time John Milton was leaving it. He took his BA in 1635, his MA in 1639, and immediately afterwards became a fellow of his college, turning down all other positions that were offered. He would not accept the mastership of his college, to which, it is understood, he would have been preferred in 1654, when Ralph Cudworth was appointed. In 1675, he finally accepted a prebend in Gloucester Cathedral, but only to resign it in favour of his friend Dr. Edward Fowler, afterwards bishop of Gloucester.

More taught many notable pupils, including Anne Finch, sister of Heneage Finch, subsequently Earl of Nottingham. She later became Lady Conway, and at her country seat at Ragley in Warwickshire, More would spend "a considerable part of his time." She and her husband both appreciated him, and amidst the woods of this retreat he wrote several of his books. The spiritual enthusiasm of Lady Conway was a considerable factor in some of More's speculations, even though she at length joined the Quakers. She became the friend not only of More and William Penn, but of Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont (1614–1699) and Valentine Greatrakes, mystical thaumaturgists of the 17th-century. Ragley became a centre of devotion and spiritualism.

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