Ralph Josselin (1616–1683) was the vicar of Earls Colne in Essex from 1641 until his death in 1683. His diary records intimate details of everyday farming life, family and kinship in a small, isolated rural community, and is often studied by researchers interested in the period, alongside other similar diaries like that of Samuel Pepys.
May. 26. This morning all our hopes of Maries life was gone, to the Lord I have resigned her and with him I leave her, to receive her into his everlasting arms, when he sees best, she rests free from much pain we hope in regard she makes no dolour the lord makes us willing she should be out of her pain, and why are we at any times unwilling, when god is about such a work, that he would take them up into his glory, this day the word was made marvellously comfortable to me, my heart could not but mourn over and for my babe, but I left it with the lord, and was quiet in my spirit, in gods taking it, to whom, I did freely resign it, my little son in all peoples eyes is a dying child, lord thy will be done, you are better to me than sons and daughters, though I value them above gold and jewels, my navel continued well this week for which I bless god, my bile grew sorer, and my carnals in my flank, which god I trust will ordain for an abundance of good to me.
27. This day a quarter past two in the afternoon my Mary fell asleep in the Lord, her soul past into that rest where the body of Jesus, and the souls of the saints are, she was: 8 years and 45 days old when she died, my soul had abundant cause to bless god for her, who was our first fruits, and those god would have offered to him, and this I freely resigned up to him(,) it was a precious child, a bundle of myrrh, a bundle of sweetness, she was a child of ten thousand, full of wisdom, woman-like gravity, knowledge, sweet expre[ssions of god, apt in her learning,] tender hearted and loving, an [obed]ient child [to us.] it was free from [the rudeness of] little children, it was to us as a box of sweet ointment, which now its broken smells more deliciously than it did before, Lord I rejoice I had such a present for thee, it was patient in the sickness, thankful to admiration; it lived desired and died lamented, thy memory is and will be sweet unto me.
28. This day my dear Mary was buried in Earles Colne church by the 2 uppermost seats, she was accompanied there with most of the town; Mrs Margarett Harlakenden , and Mrs Mabel Elliston laid her in grave, those two and Mrs Jane Clench and my sister carried her in their hands to the grave, I kissed her lips last, and carefully laid up that body the soul being with Jesus it rests there till the resurrection. god gave me a submitting heart to his will, and even a heart rejoicing in him for what he has done for her; I rest confident of her glory, not only because the Covenant of god is with me, and so also with my seeds and from the riches of his free grace; saving whom he pleases, but the soberness, towardliness in obedience spiritualness of her conversation for a child, argued the real impression of the image of god upon her; the lord was wonderful good to me and my dear wife in this correction; the lord gave us time in our thoughts, to bury it, we expected nothing but death two or 3 days before, he bore witness to my spirit that it was not in anger towards me or my baby, but in love to both that he did what he did, and persuades me he will do me good, and point to some corruptions, which he will assist me in the further mortifying of them; I eyed her glory and gain and set that against her life and my loss, and her balance infinitely outweighed, the lord give me strength of heart to eye him, and quietness of heart to submit to him, for which I bless his name,
These 2 days I had 14li.6s.6d. paid me in unexpectedly, which was an ease to my mind, in my outward condition which was much straightened, Mrs Mary grows wonderfully weak and ill every day, my neighbour Potter sick of the smallpox, a mercy my Maries disease was not infectious, the lord spare her life and preserve me and my family for his mercy sake.