Visited by John Farrington

November 27, 1710

John Farrington was a wealthy Englishman. Almost nothing is known about him except for the travel journal that he kept during an extended visit to Europe. In fall 1710, Farrington travelled with two friends and two or three servants to the court of the German Elector of Hannover, who would become King George I of England in 1714.

They began their journey in the Dutch Republic, spending September in Holland, Friesland, and Groningen on their way to Germany. In mid-November, they returned for a month, going through Gelderland and Utrecht and spending one day in Delft, 27 November 1710. (His book says erroneously that it was 28 November, but from the context, it was clearly 27 November.)

Throughout this journey, Farrington wrote a series of two dozen letters to the anonymus "Mr. N. H." The next to last one covered the visit to Delft. (pp. 81-84; fol. 266-70).

Farrington and his party began the day in Den Haag and took a "Berlin and chaise" to Delft. A Berlin was a covered four-wheeled travelling carriage that had two facing seats; it was developed in the 1660s in Berlin. Farrington's travelling party was so large that they needed an additional smaller, lighter carriage, a chaise.

Arriving in Delft, they met Robert Milling, the pastor of the English Reformed Church in Leiden (1702-1715). They had a meal at the Stadsherberg near the Haagsepoort, which Farrington called a "good house". After eating, they visited Leeuwenhoek at the Gulden Hoofd, the Nieuwe Kerk to see the tomb of the Prince of Orange, and then the Prinsenhof to see where he was "massacred". They walked around the town a while, Farrington remarking on its length, almost an English mile! He was favorably impressed by the Stadhuis and even more by the Arsenal. He commented on the homes and churches: "a very neat, still, and pleasant city." They ended up at the fish market across the gracht from Leeuwenhoek's house. Farrington noted the fishmongers' tame storks and "their insolent stealing of fish, whever they have the least opportunity."

In the evening, Farrington and his party returned to Den Haag.


We met the minister of the English Church and with him went to Mr. Leeuwenhoek's to see his rarities, which he shows only to nobility or to those that take upon them that character, except they are some that are acquainted with him. He is an old gentleman near four score and that makes him a little peevish and humoursome. The weather was thick and hazy, however, we got a sight of that casket which he told us he had bequeathed to the Royall Society at his death, wherein he showed us a glass with the scales of a man's hand, the 18 part of a breech of a spider, wherewith he spins his web, and with the whole 18 draws out 800 threds; the sperm of oisters was very plain to be seen; a part of the eye of a fly, which consists of an incredible number of lesser eyes, all which are transparent; a grain of sand which through the glass appears like a diamond; gold reduced into water, which seems to be ramiferous; one of the strings of a cod, which is divided into innumerable others etc. He scorns to take money, only he values himself a medall which was presented him by the Duke of Wolfenbuttell.