These are the names of those first Brothers, the devout men who began to build the House of Mount St. Agnes and to dwell there. First James Wittecoep, the chief promoter of our House and the earnest keeper thereof in all things. He afterward became a Priest in Zwolle and served the Altar in the Hospice there, where he died after making a good confession. Secondly, there was John Ummen, son of Assetrin, whose mother was called Regeland. He, though blind and unlettered, was yet the familiar friend and devout disciple of Master Gerard, and he became the first Rector of the House, being a good man and a comfortable. Thirdly, there was Wychmann Roerinck van Hellender, a pattern of poverty and patience; he, putting aside his friends, who were many, became an humble hearer of Gerard, and was Procurator to this poor little congregation.
Other upright men also were joined to these chief Brothers, being drawn to give up the world by the sweet savour of the reputation of this new and holy congregation. Their names are worthy of the fame of a good memorial, for they were shining lights of holy poverty, obedience, continence, and daily toil. The first was Reyner, son of Leo of Renen of the diocese of Utrecht, who often made pilgrimages out of his devotion; but afterward became converted by Gerard’s preaching and gave up the world. The second was Reyner the younger, a man without reproach, poor and accustomed to toil. He, too, came from Renen which is in the diocese of Munster. The third was called Gerard the cook, for he at the first was cook to the House, but afterward became the porter, a man fervent in deed, and devout in prayer, who was born at Deventer. All these knew Gerard Groote in the flesh, and often heard him preach the Word of God among the people. By these humble, simple-hearted, and devout little servants of Christ—these who did verily despise the world—was our House on mount Nemel begun, which House after that it became a Monastery was called Mount St. Agnes. Moreover by little and little several devout clerks and lay folk from the neighbouring towns and from far off districts came to join these men, and they earned their daily bread by the labour of their hands. For none was allowed to avoid his task, none might go about idly, neither did any dare to talk of worldly matters, but all were taught to labour for the common good, and to call often upon God in prayer at the appointed hours after the manner of the holy Fathers in Egypt: for these, too, did labour with their hands, but during the hours of toil they never ceased from prayer. Likewise they had received this rule from Master Gerard, that none ought to be accepted save such as were willing to labour with their hands and take part in the Common Life. Wherefore the clerks were diligent in writing the books of Holy Scriptures, and the lay folk busied them with bodily labour and tillage. Some also followed the tailor’s craft, others wove wool and flax; others again made