(1) MILL YARD, LONDON. 1617.
Origin. Some have supposed that this church owes its origin to the labors of John James, who was martyred Oct. 19, 1661. President Daland goes back as far as about 1580. In 1617 (or 1616) John Trask came to London from Salisbury, and held revival meetings. One of his disciples, named Hamlet Jackson, was the means of bringing Trask and many, if not all, of his congregation to the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath in about 1617, and Elder William M. Jones says that this Traskite congregation was the origin of the Mill Yard Church. All the records of this church, prior to 1673, were destroyed in the fire of 1790; the "Old Church Book." dating from 1673 to 1840, refers to an older Record; the "New Church Book" dates from 1840 to the present time.
2. Place of worship. From the beginning until 1654 they worshipped "near Whitechapel;" in 1661 their meeting place was in "Bull Stake Alley," and in 1680 they were at East Smithfield -- for from here they addressed a letter to the Newport (R. l.) Church, dated East Smithfield, London, Dec. 21, 1680. From 1691 to 1885 they worshipped in Mill Yard Goodman's Fields, County of Middlesex, a part of London, now in the heart of the metropolis. Their chapel here was, burned in 1790, and in September of the same year the first stone of a new edifice was laid by John Joseph and William Slater, the only trustees for some years. After being dispossessed of their Mill Yard property in 1885, they met for worship in the Commercial Street Baptist Church until 1892, and then in the Welsh Baptist Church in Eldon Street, where once worshipped a Calvinistic Seventh-day Baptist Church, which became extinct about 1840. For some time since 1900, the congregation assembled in private houses; and, to accommodate the widely scattered flock, two separate meetings were held -- one at the residence of Lt. Col. Thomas W. Richardson, and the other either at the house of the Church Secretary, or at the home of the deacon. On the 4th of April, 1903, this Church began to hold services in St.Thomas' Hall, Gillespie Road, Highbury Vale.
3. Pastoral service. The early pastorates are difficult to determine; the following arrangement is probably very nearly if not entirely, correct:
John Trask................................... 1617-1619
Dr. Peter Chamberlen...................1653 - ?
John James................................... ? - 1661
William Sellers............................. *1670-1678
Henry Soursby.............................. 1678-1711
John Savage.................................. 1712-1720
John Maulden............................... 1712-1715
Robert Cornthwaite....................... 1726-1755
Daniel Noble................................. 1752-1783
Peter Russell................................. 1755-1789
William Slater............................... 1784-1819
William Henry Black..................... 1840-1872
William Mead Jones.......................1872-1895
William C. Daland.........................1896-1899
(Footnote) *Elder Black says, 1657.
William Sellers was pastor when the present records began, 1673. After William Slater's death, in 1819, there was period of about twenty-one years without a pastor; the Mill Yard Chapel was closed until 1826, when the pulpit began to be supplied by various First-day Baptist ministers, until Elder Black became pastor. At the death of Elder Jones, in 1895. some desired to close the chapel and give up the long and profitless struggle; but others thought differently, and in March, 1895, a church meeting was held and an appeal made to their American brethren for ministerial aid. Rev. W. C. Daland was sent over to then, and remained about two months; on his return he recommended that the Missionary Society send the Mill Yard Church a missionary pastor suited to their needs, for the space of three years. This recommendation was adopted by the Missionary Society, and the Mill Yard Church called Dr. Daland to be its pastor; he returned to England in the Spring of 1896 (May 1st) and served the Church as its pastor until Dec. 31, 1899. Since that date the Church has been without a pastor. Rev. A.T. de Learsay and Lt. Col. Thomas W. Richardson have acted in that capacity.
With the pastorates of John James and William Sellers arose a custom of dual pastorates which continued until 1789: hence the overlapping of pastoral dates.
4. Membership. The first members, as given in Jubilee Papers, were John Trask and wife, William Hillyard, Christopher Sands, Rev. Matthew Coppinger, Mary Chester, Mr. Hebden, Mr. Wright, et al. A little later, about 1653, appear the names of Peter Chamberlen, John Light, John Spittlehouse, John Davis. Richard Ellis, Richard Smith, Robert Feak.
The time of greatest prosperity seems to have been during the pastorate of Robert Cornthwaite: the Church records of 1730 give accounts of meetings for thanksgiving and prayer in view of the interest manifested in various places respecting the Sabbath. The chapel seated two hundred and fifty, had a gallery, and was well filled in the eighteenth century; the society was in a nourishing condition, many persons of quality being members of this ancient church. These brethren would come to meeting in fine equipages, with servants and liveried footman; for the latter the gallery was provided, where they might receive the benefits of the gospel and yet be by themselves.
Among the persons of eminence who belonged to this church were such as Joseph Davis, the generous benefactor; George Carlow and Edward Elwall, authors of Sabbath pamphlets; Nathanael Bailey, the lexicographer; William Tempest, F.R.S., barrister and poet; et al.
In 1673 there were seventy members; seventy-nine in 1681; but thirty-eight women in 1737; in 1763 the number reached eighty-seven, the largest figure ever attained by this church.
When Dr. Black became pastor in 1840, there were five members -- Ann Slater, Harriet Slater, Charlotte Slater, Sophia Slater, and Rev. William H. Black, who in 1844, married Harriet Slater as his third wife; in 1845 there were seven members; in 1855, thirteen; in 1860, twenty; in 1870, eight; in 1872, but four -- Deacon Thomas Rix, Rev. W. M. Jones, who joined that year, Mrs. Solomon Carpenter, and Mrs. W. M. Jones, the last two being daughters of Elder Black; and in 1895 there were nineteen members -- nine resident and ten non-resident, eleven males and eight females.
The Mill Yard Church has been recognized as a member of the General Conference since the visit of Rev. George B. Utter from America in 1843, and a letter of fraternal greeting from that church to the Conference in 1844, June 4th. Since that date it has continued to report from time to time with considerable regularity.
5. Creed and name. The church records show that "on the first day of the month (September, 1698), the ten Commandments were set up in the meetinghouse." In 1704, the ten commandments, together with Matt. 5: 19; Rev. 12:17 and 14:12, are mentioned in such a way as to leave the impression that these were the Church's Articles of Faith: and indeed it seems never to have had any other.
The first mention, in the records, of the title "Seventh-day Baptists," is under date of October 6, 1754, when there occurs the following entry: -- "The Congregation of Protestants dissenting from the Church of England, commonly called the Seventh-day Baptists," etc. How long they had been "commonly" so called, we do not know.
6. Property interests. In 1691, in connection with others. Joseph Davis, Sr., purchased the Mill Yard property, consisting of chapel, burying ground, three cottages, almshouse and parsonage. The chapel seated two hundred and fifty, and had a gallery. This chapel was burned in 1790, and the same year the corner stone of a new edifice was laid. In 1700, for the benefit of the eight Seventh-day Baptist Churches then existing in England, Mr. Davis conveyed a portion of his property in due form to nine trustees, providing for their perpetuation in case of deaths. The First were Joseph Davis, Sr., Henry Soursby, Peter Lawrence, John Savage, Thomas Slater, Judah Gadbury, Joseph Davis, Jr., William Sellers and John Moore; Mr. Moore died that year, and John Smith, a linen draper, was appointed in his place. In 1706 Joseph Davis, Sr., died, and the bulk of his property went to his son, Joseph Davis, Jr., subject to an annual "rent charge" in favor of the Mill Yard and seven other Seventh-day Baptist Churches then existing in England. The son died in 1731 without issue, and, by provision of his father's will, the estate became vested in the trustees for the use of the Mill Yard Church; and all these years, from the income of this property, have been paid the salaries of the pastors of the MillYard and Natton Churches. The total income in 1880 was six hundred pounds sterling; and in 1902, over seven hundred pounds.
In the Sabbath Recorder of Aug. 1. 1895, Rev. Dr. W. C. Daland stated that Joseph Slater, Jr., Nov. 1, 1809, "out of malice against his uncle, William Slater, and out of opposition to the religious principles of the congregation," filed in the High Court of Justice an information against his uncle the minister. This Joseph Slater afterwards left the membership of this church and became attached to the Church of England, but retained his trusteeship and secured his own friends to be trustees; and so the whole property has ever since been in the Court of Chancery.
In 1885 this location was desired by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railroad for a terminus; and instead of negotiating with the owners of the property, they went to representatives of the Crown, stated their wants, and agreed upon a price -- 5,500 pounds sterling -- which was paid into the Court of Chancery to be passed over to the rightful owner. The Church vacated the property June, 1885 and the railroad took possession.
Such a splendid sum of money seemed too much to be allowed to go to a small, struggling congregation of a despised sect; and as, owing to the small number of male members in this church, the majority of the trustees had come to be first-day Baptists, they represented to the Court of Chancery that the Seventh-day Baptists were dead -- or so nearly so as to be in no condition to carry out the objects for which the property had been given; and that they, being next of kin to the deceased, were the proper persons to receive it. For a time it seemed that they would succeed in altogether depriving the rightful owners of any share at all in the property; but finally a "Scheme" was agreed upon providing, on certain conditions, for the erection of a chapel for the joint use of the Mill Yard people and the (first-day) General Baptist Church of the New Connection; and also directing the trustees of the Joseph Davis fund to pay one hundred pounds per annum to the Mill Yard Society "towards the expenses, including any minister's stipend and the rent of a place of meeting," until said chapel should be built. But nothing has been done to carry out this "Scheme," no steps have been taken by the trustees to erect such a chapel, and the one hundred pounds have not been given to the Society. As previously stated, the little church met for worship until April 4, 1903, in the homes of its members; and it looks very much as tho their enemies would prevail against them after all, in depriving them of all benefits of the property which rightfully belongs to them alone, and thus succeed in utterly diverting this property from the original and only purpose of the testator. This, in brief, is the history of this ancient church, which, for nearly three hundred years, has maintained unremitted worship, and held aloft the banner and torch of Sabbath truth.
(2) NATTON. 1640.
I. Location. Natton is a small hamlet about two or three miles from Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire, in the west of England; it is about ninety miles from London, fifteen from Gloucester, and, thirty-five from Birmingham.
2. Organization. There is evidence that there were Sabbath-keepers here as early as 1620, and this church was probably gathered not later than 1640; but a complete organization may not have been effected until about 1650. Prior to1680, Natton seems to have been a mixed congregation consisting of both first-day and seventh-day observers.
3. Pastoral service.
John Cowell.............................. ?-1680
John Purser............................... 1660-1720
Edmund Townsend................... 1720-1727 (Footnote)
Philip Jones............................... 1727-1770
Thomas Hiller............................ 1770-1790
An interim of several years.
Henry Matty............................... ?-1845
John Francis............................... 1845-1870
Mr. John Cowell, author of the "Snare Broken," was principal preacher in the beginning of the mixed congregation, He began to keep the Sabbath in 1661, and left it in 1671. Mr. Purser preached at Ashton while Cowell was his superior and senior. Cowell was not in all points in harmony with Purser, and this caused some friction between the two.
At Elder Cowell's death, July 31, 1680, Elder John Purser took sole charge at Natton, with the best of results. He was descended from a family of considerable wealth and influence, but was disinherited by his father because he kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Yet it pleased the Lord to give him prosperity when he became a farmer in the country. He suffered much for conscience sake between the years 1660 and 1690. He reared a large family of children who "all walked in his steps," also many of his grandchildren. He served the church faithfully for about sixty years, until his death in 1720. The descendants of Mr. Purser continue active in the work of the Natton Church to the present day. About fifty years ago the deacon of this church was Isaac Purser; he died May 17, 1864, aged seventy-five years. The present deacon is John Purser, who has served in that capacity since 1870. He was baptized by Elder John Francis in 1851.
Edmund Townsend succeeded John Purser as pastor, in 1720, until he was called in 1727 to London, to succeed Joseph Stennett as pastor of the Pinner's Hall Church. At the same time there had been preaching to other branches of the widely scattered flock two young men who gave great promise of usefulness _ Philip Jones and Thomas Boston.
Philip Jones was chosen to succeed Elder Townsend; and having served the church faithfully for about fifty years, forty-three of which he was "leading elder" or pastor, he died in 1770. He was a man of untiring energy, going where duty called him, braving storm and flood that he might meet his appointments. He had regular preaching stations at Chattenham, Ashton. Parford, Natton and other places. Etc was a man of great earnestness and power, and "a good and lively preacher of the gospel." During his pastorate the Natton church increased to thirty or forty.
His nephew succeeded him, and served until his death in 1790; he is buried in the chapel burying ground, dedicated for that purpose by Benjamin Purser. This nephew, Thomas Hiller, was at the same time pastor of a first-day Baptist church in Tewkesbury, and is said to have been "successful at Natton as well as at Tewkesbury."
After Elder Hiller's death there was an interim of some years, during which the church was without a regular pastor; but meetings were sustained by the aid of the Baptist preacher in Tewkesbury. One Henry Matty, deacon of the first-day Baptist church, had the pastoral oversight of the Natton church for a while, receiving for the same twenty pounds a year from the Davis Charity. He died Dec, 14, 1845, at the age of seventy-five years.
After this, Elder John Francis, a Welshman, took the oversight of the church and served until his death, in 1870. His salary, at first sixty pounds, and afterwards one hundred and forty pounds, was paid out of the Davis Charity. Deacon John Purser says he was not a Sabbath-keeper.
After the death of Elder Francis, Thomas Wilkinson, a first-day Baptist minister of Tewkesbury, became pastor of the Natton church. He received eighty pounds a year from the Davis Charity, as his salary. For about eighteen years before his death he was bed-ridden with spinal trouble, and his duties were performed by a deputy. Sometimes when this assistant arrived at Natton he found no audience, and then, of course, there was no service for that Sabbath; but when three persons appeared at high noon of a Sabbath-day, he would preach with as much earnestness as tho there was an audience of thousands. Elder Wilkinson died Feb. 9, 1903, at the age of nearly ninety years, and the church is now without a pastor; but meetings are sustained by Alfred Appleton and Deacon Purser.
There was baptism at Natton as late as 1858; and the last report of membership was seven. Deacon Isaac Purser, of this church, client in 1864, at the age of seventy-five years.
4. Place of meeting. The churches' principal place of meeting in those early days was at Ashton, where Elder Purser resided; but meetings were held at other places within a range of twenty-five or thirty miles.
In 1718, Benjamin, youngest son of Elder John Purser, purchased a small place at Natton, and fitted up part of his house as a chapel for divine service; and this is still used as the meeting house of this church. This building is probably the only one now standing in England which is distinctively a Seventh-day Baptist chapel. It is to all intents and purposes a part of the farmhouse which it adjoins. It is built of brick and wood, with a thatched roof. The room is a small one, not capable of seating over a dozen people at most; it contains a small high pulpit. a communion table, a fireplace, a sedilium (seat) below the pulpit for the clerk. A gallery extends over about half the space of the chapel. The entrance is thru the dooryard of the farmhouse. Mr. Purser walled off a portion of his orchard for a graveyard, and here sleep many of the saints, pastors and people, of those early days.
The meeting-house and burying ground, with five pounds per annum from his estate for all succeeding ministers, were left by Benjamin Purser (d. 1765) for the use of the Natton Church for all time. This was considered a sacred legacy in the Purser family, down to the middle of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when Benjamin Purser, the father of the present deacon, having married for his second wife a woman who was not a Sabbath-keeper, changed the entail so as to benefit her children. Thus has that legacy been alienated.
5. Decline. Appropos to the causes of Natton's decline, and the fact that for many years it has had only first-day pastors, Deacon John Purser writes, under date of Aug. 20, 1902: "My opinion is that Natton will not go on well until there is a true Sabbath pastor there; then I think it would likely prosper, and not till then. Also, I think the break in the deacon's office was when Rev. Francis caused a law suit between Natton Church and Kinsham Church, and the Commissioners decided in Francis' favor, putting Kinsham Church before Natton. I understand they were very near knocking out Natton altogether; so we have to be thankful for the old chapel." He inquired if it would be possible to get from the United States, "a true Sabbath-keeping pastor, one who would throw his whole heart and soul into the work of Christ."
NOTE.-- By the scheme of 1823, promulgated by the Trustees of the Davis Charity, the rent from the Maplestead estate, fifty pounds, was given to Natton; the other country churches, formerly beneficed by the Davis Charity endowment, having ceased to observe the Sabbath or become extinct.
See Mill Yard publications, W. H. Black. (Page XII. preface.)
An interesting article appeared, April 13. 1901, in the Birmingham Weekly Post, from which the following is an extract: -- "All the other Seventh-day Baptist churches in the provinces died out, except that at Natton, in the parish of Ashchurch. There the congregation meets on Saturday mornings when all their neighbors are about their secular occupations, and generally are ministered to by a nonconformist minister of another denomination from Tewkesbury. It is long years since a seventh-day keeper was pastor of Natton Church, and the first London pastor was sent over from the United States. There is nothing in the type of service to differentiate it from that of an ordinary nonconformist service, and necessarily little or nothing is said in advancing the peculiar views whose prevalence founded the sect. There are large charities connected with the general body, and the Natton property is vested in nine trustees. The existence of the sect is known to but few people, and rarely does a stranger make an addition to the regular congregation of half a dozen or eight persons. But it is certainly an interesting fact that such a body should have existed for two centuries and a half. The curious in such matters would do well to store up a record of the sect before it passes out of existence altogether. There appears to be little attempt to propagate the faith, and without such effort the number of adherents is not likely to increase. The tiny congregation -- the only meeting of the kind out of London -- is one of the oddest things in the ecclesiastical world. Not merely is the gathering inconvenient, one would think, but the place of assemblage is a remote corner -- in a farmyard."
How could there be anything but decline under the circumstances? No apparent attempt to propagate the faith: and how could there be such efforts under first-day pastors!!!
(3) BURTON-ON-TRENT, DERBYSHIRE. 1650.
From several sources we learn that in 1831, or '32, there was a Seventh-day Baptist Church at Repton, near Burton-on-Trent, in Derbyshire, having William Witt as pastor, and William Patterson as deacon. They had a large brick meeting house of their own, in which meetings were held every Sabbath-day; and many of the members were among the most prosperous and respected tradesmen in the town.
This is doubtless the same as the Sabbatarian church at "Burton," mentioned in the Birmingham Weekly Post, as in a flourishing condition in the middle of the seventeenth century; hence the date we give this church, 1650; but it was in all probability organized years before this time.
Burton has now become the Milwaukee of England; almost every one in the city being connected with the brewing interests.
What became of the Sabbatarian church there, we do not know.
(4) LEOMINSTER, HEREFORDSHIRE. 1650.
That a Sabbath-keeping church was in existence here, and in a flourishing condition in the middle of the seventeenth century, is stated in the Birmingham Post article referring to this church and the one at Burton. This church, says Ivimey, ' was gathered by John Toombs. A Mr. Feak (probably Robert) was a member; as was also Joseph Stennett, in 1719.
It is hoped that some record of this society may yet come to light.
(5) HEXHAM, NORTHUMBERLAND. 1652.
Elder Thomas Tillam was pastor of a church at Hexham, a market town on the Tyne river, twenty miles west of Newcastle. There was certainly such a Seventh-day Baptist church here as early as 1652, which became extinct before 1715. Ivimey says, the Hexham Baptist Church, organized 1652, was the first Baptist church in Northumberland.
(6) DORCHESTER, DORSETSHIRE. 1652.
Elder W. M. Jones mentions that Francis Bampfield's London church sent him as a special messenger "to the Sabbath churches in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Gloucestershire, and Berkshire." There is evidence that a Seventh-day Baptist church existed in Dorchester, altho we know but little about it.
In 1645 a Baptist church of fourteen members was gathered in Poole, Dorsetshire, by Thomas Collier. This is supposed to be the first Baptist church in this county. In 1655 Henry Jessey, of London, a first-day Baptist minister, visited the Sabbath-keeping church in Dorchester; and mention is made of another meeting there in 1658.
In 1689, and again in 1692, Thomas Cox attended the meeting of the General Assembly as the minister of the church in Dorchester. But as to when this church was founded, or as to how long it continued, we have no information.
We know, however, that it was there, and can only mourn that our churches have been so negligent in keeping and handing down exact and complete records of their history. Would that existing churches might now learn the important lesson.
(7) NORWICH, NORFOLK. 1656.
In a biography of Theophilus Brabourne, by Rev. Alexander Gordon, M. A., of Manchester, and published in the Sabbath Memorial of January and April, 1887, the following item occurs: -- "It may be gathered from Brabourne's will that there was a congregation of Sabbath-keepers at Norwich, and to this flock Brabourne left the sum of ten pounds, to be distributed by Mr. Poolie, one of the elders."
This Mr. Christopher Poolie was probably the one who on Aug. 18, 1656, re-baptized Mrs. Boote, "at the staithe in the river," according to the Beccles Congregational Church Book. Mary Gill, also of Beccles, "was likewise re-baptized at Norwich sometime before the other."
Here then was a church of baptized believers, Seventh-day Baptists, organized and watched over by Theophilus Brabourne, who, altho a minister of the Established Church, wrote a book on the Sabbath, and suffered much for this truth. This church was in existence in 1656, but must have been gathered much earlier; but of its beginning we are in ignorance.
(8) COLCHESTER, ESSEX. 1657.
Rev. Thomas Tillam was pastor of a Sabbatarian church in Colchester as early as 1657. In that year he wrote a book entitled, "The Seventh-day Sabbath sought out and celebrated, or the Saints last Design upon the man of sin." On page 113 of this book there is "A hymn celebrating the Lord's Sabbath, with joyful communion in the Lord's Supper by two hundred disciples at Colchester, in profession of the Law's precepts (Ex. 20) and the Gospel's principles (Heb. 6.)"
Although we know but little about Elder Tillam, this church is evidence enough of the progress of Sabbatarian ideas, and the steadfastness of their defenders even in those times of fierce and persistent persecution.
Elder Jones, in "Jubilee Papers," exults greatly over the account of this church, as we all well may.
(9) BELL LANE, LONDON. 1662.
This church was organized about the year 1662, according to Benedict's "History of the Baptists," page 339. It was in a flourishing condition in 1668, having John Belcher as pastor. In the Seventh-day Baptist Memorial, (1-24), may be found a letter from this church to the Sabbath-keepers of Newport, New England; it is dated March 26, 1668, and signed by eleven brethren -- among whom are Edward Fox, William Gibson, and John Belcher.. The letter breathes a most pious and fraternal spirit. On page 26 of the same publication is a "Letter from Dr. Edward Stennett of the Seventh-day Baptist church in Bell Lane, London, to the Sabbath-keepers in Rhode Island; dated Abingdon, Berkshire, February 2, 1668."
Toward the close of the century the church removed to Pinner's Hall, meeting there one part of the Sabbath, and Elder Stennett's church the other part. It was considered highly desirable by both parties that each church should attend the other's meetings. Elder Belcher died in 1695, and was succeeded by Henry Cooke; during this time the church was greatly reduced because of many joining Elder Stennett's church. At Elder Cooke's death, (in 1704, or possibly not until 1707), the Bell Lane church was merged with Pinner's Hall Church.
(10) DORCHESTER JAIL, DORSETSHIRE. 1665.
Elder Jones in "Jubilee Papers," (page 16), speaks of Francis Bampfield as embracing "the Sabbath and baptism while a prisoner in Dorchester jail, where he had converts to these views." In a biography of Mr. Bampfield in the Sabbath Recorder of October 10, 1844, there is reference to his "coming to the knowledge of the weekly Sabbath" while a prisoner in Dorchester jail, where he was thrown, being one of two thousand ministers ejected in 1662. In 1665 a brother in the country wrote asking his opinion as to the Sabbath. This letter was laid aside until a second was received. After thorough investigation of both Old Testament and New Testament, he saw that the seventh-day was obligatory, never having been annulled. Several of his fellow prisoners joined with him in keeping the Sabbath; and thus was formed the Seventh-day Baptist church in Dorchester jail, where Mr. Bampfield was confined for eight years, suffering thus for conscience' sake.
Dr. A. H. Lewis, in "Sabbath and Sunday." quotes from "Nonconformists Memorial" as stating that Mr. Bampfield "preached in the prison, almost every day, and gathered a church there." Dr. Armitage, "History of Baptists," bears testimony to the same fact.
(11) WALLINGFORD, BERKSHIRE. 1668.
Reference is made to the existence of this church in the writings of Dr. A. H. Lewis, Rev. George B. Utter and Dr. W. M. Jones. It is named as early as 1706 in the will of Joseph Davis, Sr., and is doubtless one of the five or more churches to which Francis Bampfield was sent as a messenger from the Pinner's Hall church. In the Seventh-day Baptist Memorial for 1852, there is a letter from Edward Stennett of Wallingford to the Newport (R.I.) church, dated February 2, 1668; and there is evidence that this church was in existence perhaps ten years earlier than this.
(12) SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE. 1675.
Several writers testify to the existence of this church. It is named in the will of Joseph Davis, Sr., and this places it as early as 1706.
About 1671 or '72, Mr. Bampfield was imprisoned in Salisbury jail; and here, just after his release from Dorchester jail in 1671, he baptized himself. It is likely that this may have had some connection with the beginning of a Seventh-day Baptist church at Salisbury. It is said of Mr. Bampfield, "Being set free (from Dorchester jail), he formed a congregation at Salisbury, but was again imprisoned for eighteen months." This was in the Salisbury jail.
(13) PINNER'S HALL, BROAD ST., LONDON. 1676.
1. Organization, and creed. This church was gathered by Francis Bampfield in the reign of Charles II, (1660-1685), and was organized as a church March 5, 1676, upon two great, principles: -- "We own the Lord Jesus Christ to be the One and Only LORD and Lawgiver to our Souls and Consciences. And we own the Holy Scriptures of Truth as ye One and Only Rule of Faith, Worship, and Life, according to which we are to Judge of all our Cases." This creed is given in the words of Mr. Bampfield, and attested by the handwriting of his successor, Joseph Stennett.
2. Name and places of meeting. There has been some confusion on this point, but all is made clear by reference to Mr. Bampfield and the record: They first met in Mr. Bampfield's house in Bethnal Green, and then at his home in Great Morefields; at this point an interesting account is given of the choice of Pinner's Hall by lot, in which they believed themselves to be divinely guided -- this was, in 1681; in 1727 they removed to Currier's Hall, Cripplegate; to Red Cross in 1800; to Devonshire Square in 1812; and in 1827 they removed again, this time to Eldon Street, which they occupied until 1849, when the church became extinct. This church never owned any meeting-place of its own. Eldon Street chapel was torn down in 1901.
Francis Bampfield ............................. 1676-1684
Edward Stennett ............................... 1686-1689
Joseph Stennett ................................ 1690-1713
Supplies ........................................... 1713-1727
Edmund Townsend .......................... 1727-1763
Supplies .......................................... 1763-1767
Thomas Whitewood ........................ 1767-1767
Samuel Stennett .............................. 1767-1785
Robert Burnside .............................. 1785-1826
John B. Shenstone ........................... 1826-1844
Francis Bampfield died in Newgate, February 16, 1684; Edward Stennett remained pastor at Wallingford while serving Pinner's Hall church; Joseph Stennett began his pastorate January 4, 1690, and died July 11, 1713; Edmund Townsend became pastor December 3, 1727; Thomas Whitewood entered upon the pastorate in June and died in October of the same year; John Brittain Shenstone became pastor June 26, 1826, and died on Sunday evening, May 12, 1844, at the age of about seventy years; he was the last pastor. Services were sustained for awhile after his death, but the church became extinct about five years after Mr. Shenstone's death.
4. Membership. After Mr. Bampfield's death the church was scattered for about two and a half years; but on the 14th of October, 1686, it was "reunited as the church formerly gathered by Mr. Francis Bampfield;" and this form of title is repeated several times in the records. At this time the church had forty-two members; in 1690 it had fifty-five; and reached the maximum number of one hundred and twenty under Joseph Stennett. There were six members in 1823.
The following record stands in the church book: -- "The last surviving member (Mrs. Shenstone), of this ancient and honorable Society of Sabbath-keeping Christians is departed on the 11th of October, 1863."
(14) SHERBOURNE, DORSETSHIRE. 1680.
Sherbourne is seventeen miles from Dorchester, thirty- nine miles from Salisbury, and a hundred, seventeen and a half miles from London.
Three authorities mention Sherbourne in a list of several churches known to have existed, but about which very little information can be obtained. Dr. Jones refers to churches in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, etc., visited by Francis Bampfield, Mr. Utter places Sherbourne in Buckinghamshire; but as there is now no such place in this county, it must be the one in Dorset, notwithstanding also that Cox puts it in Buckinghamshire.
Sherbourne is one of the eight churches named as beneficiaries in the will of Joseph Davis, Sr.; it therefore dates back at least as far as 1706. There is evidence that a Seventh-day Baptist church existed here as early as 1680; and if this was the one in Dorsetshire visited by Francis Bampfield, it must have been in existence at a still earlier date. Bampfield was rector at Sherbourne, from which he was ejected in 1662 in consequence of the Uniformity Act; he was arrested on Friday, September 19, 1662, and imprisoned, but afterwards, being released, he spent several years in Sherbourne.
Ivimey, ("History of English Baptists"), says: -- "Possibly he was the only Seventh-day Baptist there." Almost an impossible supposition; for such a man as Francis Bampfield, who could not be in prison without forming a society, would hardly be anywhere outside of prison very long without a band of followers. Thank God for such a man, whose name will never lose its heavenly fragrance.
(15) HAMPSHIRE. 1680.
We can simply record that there was here a Seventh-day Baptist church, since Francis Bampfield was sent by his Pinner's Hall church in London to visit a society of like faith in this county; but we have no information as to the name or exact location of such church. It is but one of many concerning which everything has perished save the fact of its past existence; it lived and did its work, and died. (John 12:24).
(16) BRAINTREE, ESSEX. 1706.
Several historians recognize the existence of a Seventh-day Baptist church at this place but we know little of it, except that it is named as one of the beneficiaries of the will of Joseph Davis, Sr. It was therefore in existence at least as early as 1706.
(17) CHERTSEY, SURREY. 1706.
See remark under Braintree.
(18) NORWESTON, OXFORDSHIRE. 1706.
As to date, see remark under Braintree.
This was North Weston, a small hamlet of but a few houses. It was formerly owned by the Quartermains, then by the Clarkes, several of whom represented Oxford in Parliament. About 1745 they sold it to Charles, duke of Marlborough, The manor house was converted into a farm house, and at one time used as a school. Near it was a chapel which was taken down about 1812; and this was probably the chapel used by the Seventh-day Baptist church of Norweston.
This church is mentioned in the will of Joseph Davis, Sr., 1706. In 1718, Mill Yard voted to send Pastor John Savage to "Norwatson" (July 6th). The Mill Yard pastors went out to this little country church with considerable frequency.
(19) WOODBRIDGE, SUFFOLK. I 706.
What is said under Braintree applies to this church; the earliest date that is positively fixed is 1706, altho it is certain the church was organized years before that time.*
George Carlow, who wrote a book, "Truth Defended,". in support of the Bible Sabbath, (1724), was a member of the Seventh-day Baptist church at Woodbridge.
* This date is taken from Dr. A. H. Lewis's "History of Sabbath and Sunday," p. 336. The Mill Yard Records, under date of "September 1st, 1706," give the following: -- "George Carlow of Woodbridge, in Suffolk, by a letter of recommendation from the church he belongs to in the countrie was admitted a member of this congregation and was set down in fellowship at the next Lord's Supper." Shortly afterwards he was elected a Davis Charity trustee and so remained all his life.
(20) MANCHESTER, LANCASTERSHIRE. 1730.
Elder W. M. Jones, (Jubilee Papers, page 18), mentions the existence of a Seventh-day Baptist church at this place. The Rev. Alexander Gordon, who wrote a life of Brabourne, was a resident of Manchester; but whether a Sabbath-keeper or not; we do not know.
For the above date we refer to the Sabbath Recorder for June 25, 1846.
Manchester sent a Church Letter to the Baptist Association, June 11, 1794.
(21) SWANZEY, WALES. 1730.
See "Elder Wheaton" in biography, page
(22) PORT BANNATYNE, ISLE OF BUTE, SCOTLAND. 1802.
Our attention was first called to the existence (in times past) of a Seventh-day Baptist church on this isle, by a letter in the Sabbath Recorder of February 20, 1890; written by a Mr. Joseph La Mont of Nortonville, Kansas, asking for information as to such a church, and stating that his grandfather (Archibald La Mont) and his grandmother, who came to America in 1809, were members of such a church at that place. Mr. C. H. Greene addressed a letter to General Campbell, Kames Castle, Isle of Bute; which being published in the "Rothesay Express" of March 25, 1903, has brought to light some interesting facts in letters and articles published in the same paper since that date.
1. Location. First, it may be well to note its position. Bute is a small island of 31,161 acres situated in the Firth of Clyde, about thirty miles from Glasgow and one mile from Iona, famous for its association with St. Columba, the Sabbath-keeping apostle of Scotland. Bute and several neighboring islands form the county of Bute, with Rothesay as the county seat. The inhabitants for the most part belong to the "Free Kirk of Scotland."
James Moffat in "Church in Scotland" says: -- "One can not resist the obtruding conjecture that fond hankerings after the earlier faith had survived thru all the obscurity,.... and awakened again to activity in the warmth and light of the liberated gospel" of the Reformation. With this thought in mind, and considering that this island was at the very centre of the activities of the Sabbath-keeping Celtic Church, we can scarce resist the conjecture that here some remnants of the Seventh-day Sabbath have survived until very recent years.
2. Constitution. Archibald La Mont appears to have been the founder of the Seventh-day Baptist church here. In 1802 he came from Hafton and settled on an estate at Port Bannatyne. According to the testimony of his grandson, he was a Seventh-day Baptist. On the property which he bought he built a spacious residence, fitting up one room as a chapel (seating about one hundred persons) in which he placed a pulpit "of the same design as the one then in St. Giles, Edinburgh." The house is now used only as a dwelling, and the person who occupies it writes, that "it was the first church of any kind in North Bute;" and he adds, that "the congregation originated in 1802."
Mr. La Mont was a man of great energy and ability, and belonged to a family of note, several members of which held various positions of prominence. Whether he found in Bute any of his belief is not now known, but sure it is that before the year closed he had gathered a congregation of his own faith. Mr. La Mont himself does not seem to have done any preaching, but he was, it is said, "a great supporter of Donald Macarthur."
3. Preaching. Donald Macarthur seems to have been in the beginning a Presbyterian, but was converted to the Baptist faith about the year 1800, and at this time was associated with the Haldanes. He is said to have become a Seventh-day Baptist in 1802. He is described as a "lay-preacher" of burning zeal and acceptability. He not only preached in the chapel at Port Bannatyne, but all over the regions round about, wherever he could gather an audience. He was "very popular with his followers," and indeed with the common people generally. Those who adhered to him were called by the people, "Macarthurites." He belonged to an honorable family of great longevity, and "some members of the same family are still to the fore in the Loch Striven district."
4. Opposition. Notwithstanding Macarthur's popularity, one writer says: -- "The regular church people at that time looked askance at the Macarthurites;" and another writes, "that their practices were disapproved by the orthodox of the day." As a matter of fact, on one occasion (Oct. 20, 1805), while preaching on the shore at Colintraive, Mr. Macarthur was seized by a colonel and three constables and "pressed" for the Navy. This was in the days of what is known as the "press gang." The local volunteers who were ordered to seize Macarthur greatly disliked the duty thrust upon them, and many refused obedience; and there is a local tradition to the effect that none of those who took part in the seizure came to any good thereafter, but all suffered violent deaths.
Thru the efforts of friends, who employed eminent attorneys, Macarthur was released November 27, 1805. But little is known of his labors after this; he appears to have emigrated to Canada in 1811 where he became a prosperous farmer and stock raiser. He died in 1850.
Archibald La Mont came to America in 1809, as we have already noted; and of the Seventh-day Baptist church in the Isle of Bute we have no trace later than 1840. However, their memory has not perished, nor the interest of residents of the locality -- judging by the newspaper, articles and letters called out by Mr. Greene's letter of inquiry.
(23) BIRMINGHAM, NO. 1. 1822.
Pastor, Thomas Wilson. See note under Tyrone.
(24) BIRMINGHAM, NO. 2. 1822.
Pastor, James Steward. See note under Tyrone.
(25) LONDONDERRY, IRELAND. 1822
Pastor, William Wilson. See note under Tyrone.
(26) TYRONE, IRELAND. 1822.
Pastor, John Buchanan. All we know of the four last-named churches is found on page 168 of Elder James Bailey's "History of Conference."
In 1822 Elder Eli S. Bailey, who was Corresponding Secretary of the General Conference, wrote under date of May 5th, the following letter to Robert Burnside, then pastor of the Pinner's Hall Seventh-day Baptist church: "We are informed by people from Europe, that there are two Seventh-day Baptist churches in Birmingham; the pastors' names are Thomas Wilson and James Steward. And that there are two in Ireland: one in the County of Londonderry, William Wilson, pastor; another in the County of Tyrone, John Buchanan, pastor. We wish you to make inquiry, and if there are such churches in those places, give us information; and inform them that we wish to open correspondence with them." The present writer is unable to say whether Elder Burnside ever made any reply to this inquiry, or whether he even made any search into the matter. We have examined several of his subsequent letters, but found no reference at all to this subject; hence we judge he never found time or opportunity to look up these churches. So far as we have any evidence, its weight, however light, is on the side of the existence of the churches indicated. In a letter from Mr. W. O'Neill, deacon of Mill Yard church, mention is made of "the old Birmingham church;" and he says he has "heard the late Dr. Jones speak about some (Sabbath-keepers) there with whom he used to correspond." He adds that the Seventh-day Adventists have a church there now.
(27) BANAGHER, KINGS COUNTY, IRELAND. 1825.
There seems to be credible evidence that a Seventh-day Baptist church existed here as late as 1825, but as to its origin and history we know but little as yet. For many years, in the family of Dr. Phoebe J. B. Wait, there were two domestics, sisters, born, in the village of Banagher, Kings County, Ireland, on the banks of the river Sharon. Their name was Donnohew (or Donnahue), and from them we have the following account: --
"About the year 1825, there came to Banagher from the north of Ireland a certain Charles Monk, who was a Protestant and a Sabbath-keeper, probably also a preacher. He established a school to fit young men for Trinity College, Dublin. Very soon he gathered about him a little band of Sabbath-keepers, who met for regular worship in the chapel of Mr. Monk's Academy."
One of the converts was William Buchanan, one of the local lords, who was a man of marked individuality. He, with his wife and family, lived in a large stone castle on one side of the village; and it was a source of diversion to the children of the village to gather of a Saturday and watch him drive by in his fine equipage, with gilded harness and liveried servants, on the way to church. The Misses Donnohew often saw both these men.
(28) WESTMANCOTE, WORCESTERSHIRE. 1829.
Westmancote was about four miles from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. In 1829 there was here a Seventh-day Baptist church, with Rev. John Miller as pastor, and an elder, Rev. John Miles, formerly of the Establishment.
In the Protestant Sentinel of April 14, 1830, is published a letter to Elder Eli S. Bailey from Rev. John Miller, dated August 20, 1829, as follows: -- "We are but a little flock, but there is that sweet 'Fear not' addressed to us -- 'Fear not little flock,' etc. We have lost by death two members belonging to the Seventh-day Sabbath, within these few months: one a female; the other, the Rev. J. Miles, who was formerly a clergyman of the Establishment -- a middling preacher, but very learned in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldee, and Latin."
Deacon John Purser of Natton thinks it ceased after awhile to be a Sabbath-keeping church, and became connected with the General Baptist Church, possibly about the year 1835.
(29) ST. ASAPH, FLINTSHIRE, NORTH WALES. 1851.
Mrs. Tamar Davis, in her History of Sabbatarians, (page 129), writing in 1851, says: -- "I have been informed that there is at this time a small society of Seventh-day people in the West part of England, in the vicinity of St. Asaph; but I will not vouch for the accuracy of the statement." This is quoted here in hope that the statement may lead others to such investigation as may result in interesting and valuable information.
(30) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND. 1874.
Elder Nathan Wardner arrived in Glasgow, June 23, 1875; and on October 7; 1875, he organized here a Seventh-day Baptist society.
Elder Jones, in "Sabbath Memorial," says: -- "Besides the churches of Natton and Mill Yard, there is now a Sabbath- meeting establishment in Glasgow, the result of the Sabbath Conference held there on the 8th of October, last."
Persons were found in Scotland and Ireland who had embraced the Sabbath ten and twenty years before, without knowing of any others of like faith. How many there may be still who are waiting for some one to gather them and shepherd them.
(31) BELFAST, IRELAND. 1876.
Soon after Rev. W. M. Jones went to London in 1872, there developed a correspondence with lone Sabbath-keepers which increased to such an extent that it was decided to send over Rev. Nathan Wardner to act as his assistant. Elder Wardner went to Glasgow, and from that centre began to send out tracts to nearly every part of the world. As a result many more lone Sabbath-keepers were discovered, and the Haarlam, Holland, Seventh-day Baptist church was organized.
One of the most hopeful centres of Sabbath influence was at Belfast, Ireland. After working in the city of Glasgow for a year or more, Elder Wardner and some of the Glasgow friends went over to Belfast and organized a Seventh-day Baptist church of four members. Angus Chism and Isaac Hampden were ordained deacons, and Sarah Courtenay was elected clerk. The church prospered: Elder Wardner was quite often called to Belfast to administer baptism, and the brethren there were enthusiastic in spreading the Sabbath truth, both by tract and by tongue.
The church was organized January 31, 1876; and the membership increased to nearly one dozen communicants, while the Sabbath congregations were from sixty to one hundred.
About the year 1878, the Societies in America, under whose patronage Elder Wardner was laboring, thought best to recall him to America -- altho seemingly the interest was never more encouraging than it was just at that time.
The Belfast brethren reported thru the Sabbath Recorder with considerable regularity up to 1880; after that we hear nothing more of them. In the year 1896 and 1901 Mr. C. H. Greene made repeated efforts to find these brethren. In 1896 he learned that Angus Chism was yet alive, but he was unable to get an answer to his letters; and there is reason to believe that Deacon Chism was still living in 1901.*
It is possible that the Belfast Seventh-day Baptist church has been absorbed by the Seventh-day Adventists who came to labor in Belfast about 1879.
*In a letter received from Beacon Chism, since the above was written, he speaks of "the Seventh-day Baptist Church, which meets at my house;" We infer that Belfast yet maintains a name.
(32) SOUTHPORT, LANCASTERSHIRE. 1890.
In the Conference Minutes of 1890, reference is made by the Secretary of the Missionary Society, (Rev. Dr. Main), to the reported existence of a Seventh-day Baptist church at Southport; nothing further, however, has been discovered concerning it. It is hoped this notice may result in inquiry and further information.
Here we close our history of Seventh-day Baptist churches in the British Isles, conscious of the meagerness of the accounts we have been able to give simply because of the poverty of necessary materials. These churches (nearly all of them) committed the mistake which multitudes of American churches have made and are still making -that of failing to prepare and preserve complete records of their career.
We close this part of our task with the firm conviction also that there have been many societies and churches of which we know nothing with sufficient accuracy to chronicle anything whatsoever.
There is evidence that all over England there have been and are many lone Sabbath-keepers, and among these a goodly number of ministers of the Established church, who reverently observe the Seventh-day Sabbath while they continue to serve their congregations in the Establishment.
The decline of Sabbath-keeping churches in the British Isles naturally awakens thoughtful inquiry as to the causes. Doubtless there have been reasons of which we are in ignorance; three things, however, we believe, have contributed in a measure toward this result: --
1. A lack of organized fellowship among the churches;
2. Dependence upon charitable bequests develops weakness in individuals and churches as well;
3. Employment of First-day pastors must necessarily blockade all aggressive Sabbath work.
Of the following corrections, those beginning with page 30, and ending with page 113, except the one on page 78, have been submitted by Charles Henry Greene, Esq., who in collaboration with Rev. James Lee Gamble, Ph. D., D. D., wrote the treatise concerned.
Since writing the statement that the membership of the Mill Yard Church was limited to "but thirty-eight women in 1737", the writer has consulted the records of the Mill Yard Church, and a copy of the inscriptions on the Mill Yard tombstones prepared by Rev. William H. Black, about 1845. A comparison of these records shows that there were at least six male members in 1737. The statement of membership on page 41, is made on the authority of Rev. William C. Daland, in the Sabbath Recorder, August 1, 1895.
The statements which appear here are made on the authority of Rev. William M. Jones, in the Jubilee Papers. The Church records say that Joseph Davis did not present the Church with the Mill Yard property as a gift, but "loaned the money" to Mill Yard for the purpose of purchasing it. When the debt was paid, does not appear.
The statement which appears here concerning "Edmund Townsend",. is made on the authority of the Manual of the Seventh Day Baptists, by Rev. George B. Utter (1858). The Church records say that in 1722, Edmund Townsend was ordained by the Natton Church and sent out as an evangelist "to preach to other churches in want."
The statement which appears here concerning the seating capacity of the Natton Chapel, is made on the authority of Rev. George B. Utter in the Manual of the Seventh Day Baptists, and of Rev. William C. Daland in the Sabbath Recorder of August 1, 1895. In the summer of 1907, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas W. Richardson, pastor of the Mill Yard Church preached here to an audience of fifteen, and the chapel, it appears, has a seating capacity of about thirty-five. The present roof is not a thatched one.
For "Mill Yard", read "Pinner's Hall."