Richard Baxter was born in 1615 in Rowton, Shropshire, the home of his Grandfather and he lived there until he was nine years old when he moved to his father’s home at Eaton Constantine, Shropshire. There is a rumour that his father was violent, so that is why Baxter lived with his grandfather. In his biography he says that his father was addicted to gambling in his youth as was his grandfather so it is not beyond possibility that he would drink and get violent when he lost money. Baxter also says that through reading the Bible his father was changed which would tie in with the rumour and explain why he moved to his father’s house in 1625.
Most of the information about Baxter’s life comes from a detailed journal that he kept. He was taught locally by a succession of inadequate masters who were either immoral or drunk. His father, who was a freeholder, gave him religious instruction. Baxter’s father had no other book than the Bible to instruct him, but it was through his teaching that the boy came to a fear of sinning. His father set him to reading the History books of the Bible which interested him and from there he slowly began to love the whole Bible. Around the age of 14, in Wroxeter, he finally found a school with a good master and when he was 15 he read a book called ‘Bunny’s Resolution’ that ‘awakened his soul.’ He stayed at Wroxeter until he was 17 and then he was persuaded to study at Ludlow castle rather than go to Oxford. This proved to be a mistake as there was little teaching and he returned home after 18 months. It appears that from 1633 to 1638 Baxter studied at home although at 21 he suffered badly with consumption for two years. From this point he was to suffer many different illnesses that kept him in pain for much of his life.