Herbert was born in Montgomery in Wales. His family was wealthy, eminent, intellectual and fond of the arts. His mother Magdalen (nee Newport) was a patron and friend of John Donne and other poets; his older brother Edward, later Lord Herbert of Cherbury, was an important poet and philosopher, often referred to as "the father of English deism". Herbert's father Richard Herbert, Lord of Cherbury died when George was three, leaving a widow and ten children.
Herbert entered Westminster School at or around the age of 12 where he became a day student. Though sometime after he was elevated to the level of scholar. Herbert later was admitted on scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1609 where he graduated first with a Bachelor's and then with a Master's degree in 1613 at the age of 20. After graduating from Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge (where he achieved degrees with distinction), Herbert was elected a major fellow of his college. In 1618 he was appointed Reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge and in 1620 he was elected to the post of Cambridge University orator, whose duties would be served by poetic skill. He held this position until 1628.
In 1624 he became a Member of Parliament, representing Montgomery. While these positions were suited to a career at court, and James I had shown him favour, circumstances worked against him: the King died in 1625, and two influential patrons of Herbert died later in the decade. However George Herbert's only service to parliament may have already ended in 1624 or since, although a Mr Herbert is mentioned as a committee member, there is no record in the Commons Journal for 1625 of Mr. George Herbert (a distinction carefully made in the records of the preceding parliament).
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