15 December 2023

A Red Letter Day In Bourton On The Water, August 1765

By Gary Brady

Gary Brady ThM has been Pastor Childs Hill Baptist Chuch since 1983. Contributor to Glory to the Three Eternal: Tercentennial Essays on the Life and Writings of Benjamin Beddome (1718–1795) (Monographs in Baptist History) Haykin, Paul & Yoo (eds) Pickwick Publications 2019


This study in eighteenth century Particular Baptist history hones in on one day in 1765 when Benjamin Beddome and 29 other like minded ministers gathered together at an association meeting. These men vary in their importance and in how much information is available about them. The essay seeks to gather what is known in order to paint a picture of a significant day in the life of that particular community. It is hoped that the description of such a gathering in the past may encourage such gathering and such interaction among evangelical ministers, especially, but also others on our own day and age.

The following article exemplifies the interconnectedness experienced by Particular Baptist ministers in the Georgian era. No doubt today different patterns of association will be worked out by various people but fellowship and friendship is a good thing to pursue. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12b)

Benjamin Beddome was pastor of the Baptist cause at Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, for over fifty years. In his lifetime, the church, a founder member of the Midland Baptist Association, hosted the annual meeting of ministers and messengers on three occasions – in 1753, 1765 and 1785.[1]

Bourton was and is a village and so in some ways unsuited to hosting such gatherings, although there is a coaching inn in nearby Lower Slaughter.[2]

When the association was elsewhere, attendees were accommodated in local inns. For example, in Warwick, attendees could put up at The Marlborough Head, The Cross Keys or The Three Tuns, as they did in 1728, 1742, 1750 and 1778. In Birmingham, there was The Castle, used in 1764, or The Anchor, Spinall Street, used in 1752, or the Union Tavern, Cherry Street, used in 1793.[3]

The 1765 meetings in Bourton were planned for the usual Whitsuntide period at the end of May but the new chapel, completed that year, was not ready in time so meetings were deferred to August.[4] People gathered on Tuesday, August 13 and the main meetings were the next day, Wednesday, August 14, with a final session on Thursday, August 15. Quite where everyone was accommodated is unclear but nearly a hundred years later, Thomas Brooks, in his local church history, Pictures of the past, drawing on Beddome, listed some thirty ministers present on that occasion.[5]

As Brooks notes, only fourteen of these were ministers of Association churches[6] with more than twice that number of ministers present.[7] He calls it a “red-letter-day” in the memory of the “saints and faithful brethren” at Bourton and concludes by saying that it was no mean gathering for a country village, in an age when railways were unknown.[8] There was a large congregation of hearers, as well as a great company of preachers.[9]

Beddome, 48 at the time, wrote that in addition to vehicles of all other kinds, “there were eleven or twelve post-chaises at our Association”.[10]

Benjamin Beddome

Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795) was born in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, and was the son of pastor John Beddome (1674-1757). When Benjamin was seven, the family moved to Bristol where he was educated locally, before being apprenticed as a surgeon apothecary. He then studied theology under family friend Bernard Foskett (1685-1758).[11] After a year or so he went to London to study at the Independent Academy, Mile End. He was baptised in London, at the church in Little Prescot Street, Goodman’s Fields, in 1739. The following year, he became pastor of the Baptist church in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, in the Cotswolds, being ordained in 1743. Despite calls elsewhere, he ministered in that same place for some fifty-five years and became a well known preacher and a leading figure in the Midland Baptist Association, acting four times as moderator (1746, 1749, 1761, 1771), twice being author of the association letter (1759, 1765) and preaching a record 17 times over the 46 years, 1743-1789.[12] In 1749 he married Elizabeth Boswell (1732–1784), daughter of a Bourton deacon. Typically, they had many children but many died young. In 1770 he was awarded an MA by Providence College, Rhode Island. In 1752, he had published A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism, by Way of Question and Answer, which was reprinted in 1776. A prolific hymn writer, a collection of 830 of his hymns was published posthumously as were several volumes of sermons based on his notes.[13]

Harmony and variety

Brooks’ list contains relatively well known and unknown names. No doubt they formed a sombrely dressed group, perhaps a periwig or a three cornered hat in evidence. Average height in those days was around five feet six inches. In only six cases do portraits appear to exist. Portraits of Evans, Francis, Macgowan, Reynolds, Joshua Thomas and Stanger are probably the only ones.[14]

All thirty appear to have had all their limbs and eyes intact.[15] Some perhaps showed the ravages of age or disease, however. By 1765, Beddome was suffering from the gout that would later mean sitting to preach at times. Perhaps the marks of lameness with which Wallin was born still evidenced themselves. Sickly Samuel George would be dead from TB within two years and may have looked pale and thin. Almost certainly, Daniel Thomas bore visible marks of his persecution as a young man. Reynolds’ difficulties would have become apparent only once he began to speak.

Life expectancy in 1765 was only 39, yet of twenty whose lifespan is known, only George would die young (33). Another Welshman, Daniel Thomas, died at 49. The rest died between 54 and 88, average age of death being between 66 and 67 (nearly 70 if you exclude George and Thomas).

In most cases, if not all, the men appear to have been married with children.[16] Three, including Beddome, had direct connections with Bourton and fourteen were association men.[17] Over half served long pastorates in one place.[18] At least eight had studied for the ministry in Bristol. Six or seven were Welsh and five were from the north of England.[19] Another five, at least, were sons of ministers. Philip Jones and Joshua Thomas had sons who were ministers. Jones also had a nephew who entered the ministry, as did Sleap.[20]

Particular Baptists almost to a man, Stanger began as a General Baptist and was probably in a state of theological flux at this point. Darby was minister at an Independent church. Both MacGowan and Daniel Thomas had begun as Methodists.[21] Philip Jones was a seventh day Baptist by conviction and perhaps Hitchman too.[22]

A number had served an apprenticeship before entering the ministry – Beddome as a surgeon apothecary, MacGowan as a weaver, Ash as a blacksmith, Joshua Thomas as a silk mercer and Stanger in hosiery. We do not know the nature of Wallin’s apprenticeship. Particular Baptist ministers were notoriously poor and used various means to supplement their income.[23] Ash, Hitchman, Francis, Joshua Thomas, Stanger and maybe others ran schools. Ash and Stanger would both also try running shops to support themselves. Reynolds may have been a bookseller. MacGowan had also been a baker. Overbury, though a pastor, probably continued to work in the wool trade.

Four years after the gathering, Ash and Evans would publish the first Baptist hymn collection, Hymns adapted to public worship, the Bristol Collection. It would include hymns by Ash, Beddome and Wallin. In 1787, Rippon’s Selection would include hymns by those three and Francis.

There is reason to believe that Ash, Beddome, Evans and Reynolds, if not others, were able to read the Greek New Testament. In 1770, the college of Rhode Island, New England, later Brown University, honoured Beddome, Reynolds, Wallin and Woodman with MA degrees. They did the same for Ash and Evans in 1774 and 1789 respectively and for Francis in 1792. Ash and Evans, in addition, were honoured by Aberdeen University with a LLD and DD respectively when they were given their Rhode Island MAs.[24]

It is unclear in what order Brooks lists the pastors, although it may be by remoteness from Bourton. Two obvious ways to list them today might be by distance or by age.[25]

Distance from Bourton

By distance from Bourton, one would note first those farthest away – men such as Thomas Ferriby, born and baptised in Horsley but by then on the other side of the county, in Chipping Sodbury; James Butterworth, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire; John Stanger, Towcester, Northamptonshire; Samuel Sleap, Princes Risborough, near Chesham, Buckinghamshire; Isaac Woodman, Sutton in the Elms, near Leicester; Caleb Evans, Bristol; James Turner, Birmingham; Joshua Thomas, Leominster, Herefordshire; John MacGowan, Bridgnorth, Shropshire;[26] Benjamin Wallin, London, and the real outlier, Thomas Tommerson or Thomason, near Macclesfield in Cheshire.[27]

At the other end of the scale would be those who had travelled twenty miles or less, people such as David Davis, the new pastor at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire; Thomas Davis, Fairford, Gloucestershire; Benjamin Whitmore, Hooknorton, near Banbury, Oxfordshire; John Haydon, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire; Lawrence Butterworth, Bengeworth, Worcestershire.


If we attempt to arrange them by age, most of the data is available, except for eight men whose ages are unknown.[28]

In 1765, the younger men were John Stanger 1743-1823, 22 in 1765; Lawrence Butterworth 1740-1828, 25; Caleb Evans 1737-1791, 28; Samuel George 1734-1767 and Isaac Woodman 1715-1777, both about 30; Benjamin Francis 1734-1799, 31, Thomas Ferriby 1733-1808, 32.

A little older were John Reynolds 1730-1792, 35; William Hitchman c 1728-1802 and Benjamin Whitmore 1728-1804, both about 37; John MacGowan 1726-1780 and James Turner 1726-1780, both 39; Thomas Davis, c 1724-1784 and John Ash 1724-1779, both about 41.

In the oldest group (45-65) were Daniel Thomas 1720-1769, about 45; Joshua Thomas 1719-1797, 46; Benjamin Beddome, 48; John Haydon 1714-1782, 51; Benjamin Wallin 1711-1782, 54; Philip Jones c 1700-1771 and Nathaniel Overbury 1700-1766, both about 65.

The three preachers

Appropriately, Beddome was deputed to draw up the circular letter, published in due time.[29] Three ministers took a special part in proceedings by preaching – MacGowan and Turner, association men, and Wallin, from London. Also taking part, besides Beddome, were association men, Francis, Ash, Evans and Jones. Ash was the moderator.

On the Wednesday morning, Francis opened proceedings and Ash led in prayer before MacGowan preached from Psalm 45:13 The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. Caleb Evans concluded in prayer.

Next, Turner preached from Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. Jones concluded in prayer.

The third and final preacher was Wallin who preached in the evening on Acts 11:22-24, about Barnabas and the church in Antioch.

On the third morning, the Thursday, Beddome’s circular letter was read and approved and he closed the meeting in prayer before the crowds began to disperse.

John MacGowan (1726-1780) born and educated in Edinburgh, was apprenticed to a weaver. He had early become a Wesleyan and a Methodist preacher. However, later, having become a Calvinist, he was attracted first to the Independents, then became a Particular Baptist, settling in Bridge Street, Warrington, Lancashire, as a baker and as pastor of the old Baptist chapel, in nearby Hill Cliff. He then moved on to Bridgnorth, Shropshire. He was not particularly successful there and a year after preaching in Bourton, in September 1766, he went to pastor the church that met at the old Baptist meeting-house, Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate, London, the church begun by William Kiffin (1616-1701) in 1687. He was moderator for the Midland Association in 1766 but was inducted to the London pastorate that year by fellow London ministers, John Gill (1697-1773), Wallin and Samuel Stennett (1727-1795).[30] There he knew better success and there he remained the rest of his life. On their behalf, he signed the petition of the Protestant Association of London, in the prelude to the Gordon Riots of 1780. His first wife, Esther, died in 1762. His second wife, Mary outlived him. He had eight surviving children. He was buried in Bunhill Fields, Wallin preaching at the funeral. MacGowan authored several, sometimes anonymous, volumes that could be quite caustic. He wrote to defend the Methodists expelled from Oxford in 1768 and was author of Dialogues with devils, a Bunyanesque work. His Works were published in two volumes in 1825.[31]

James Turner (1726-1780) was another northerner. Born in Stack, Lancashire, he became a member of the Baptist congregation in nearby Bacup, Rossendale, where he was baptised by Henry Lord (d 1780). In 1755 he was called south to be the second pastor of the church at Cannon Street, Birmingham, founded in 1737. At that time, the church was failing and the congregation numbered only about 14. However, under Turner’s ministry, the work flourished and in 1763 the chapel was enlarged, with a further enlargement set to begin at about the time of his death in 1780. By then, membership had reached over 150. In 1775, fellow northerner John Sutcliff (1752-1814) worked alongside him as his assistant for six months, before going to Olney. Turner was succeeded by Henry Taylor in 1782 but Taylor became an Arminian. However, in 1789, Samuel Pearce (1766-1799) followed him, his brief pastorate making a deep and orthodox impact. Between 1765 and his death, Turner preached another twice (1769, 1762) at the Association and was moderator four times – 1768, 1770, 1774 and 1778. A tablet erected in Turner’s memory in the chapel notes that “he was a clear, judicious, acceptable, and successful preacher and he was a defender of all the doctrines of the everlasting Gospel.” In Turner’s lifetime some few small items were published but did not long remain in print.[32]

Benjamin Wallin (1711-1782) son of pastor Edward Wallin (1678-1733) was born with what was assumed to be incurable lameness but, thanks to the medical expertise of the Hertfordshire Baptist minister, Jonas Thorowgood (1678-1753), he was enabled to walk. Educated under John Needham (d 1743) of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Wallin was later greatly helped by Dr Sayer Rhudd (d 1757) and Dr Joseph Stennett (1692-1758).[33] Baptised in 1725, Wallin worked in business for many years but in 1740, after a great inward struggle, he agreed to become pastor of Maze Pond, London, the church where Beddome was baptised. This was some time after the death of his father, who had pastored the church and was first succeeded by Abraham West (1712-1739) who died prematurely after a short time. The idea of Wallin entering the ministry had been mooted from before the time of his father’s death but the son had always resisted the idea. His eventual forty year ministry was successful and greatly appreciated by many. His successor was Abraham Booth (1734-1806). In 1752, Sarah, Wallin’s wife of 19 years, had died. He never remarried. They had two sons and three daughters. In 1770, like Beddome, he was awarded a Rhode Island MA.[34] Like so many Baptist pastors of the period, he wrote hymns and in 1750 published a collection of them. He also published more than forty sermons and other items – more than any other Baptist of the time, except Gill.

Four others taking part

As for Ash, Evans, Francis and Jones.

John Ash (1724-1779) was Dorset born and apprenticed to a blacksmith before studying for the ministry. He apparently had a blacksmith’s physique. He was a member of Loughwood Meeting House, near Dalwood, Dorset, and may have worked alongside the pastor, Isaac Hann (1690-1778), for a short time. Like Beddome, he studied in Bristol under Bernard Foskett and in 1746 settled in Pershore, the compromise candidate for a previously divided congregation.[35] He followed another Bristol student, Edward Cook (d c 1746) who had led the previously mixed church into becoming exclusively Baptist. In 1752, Ash married a wealthy orphan in the Pershore congregation, Elizabeth Goddard (1728-1764). A lengthy prenuptial agreement governed the marriage to some extent but they were happily married and had six children. They supplemented their income by running a shop and were eventually able to buy their own property. Ash also probably ran a school. Like his predecessor, he remained in Pershore until his death. In 1774, he obtained a LLD from Aberdeen. At his funeral, Evans said of him that the world has seldom known “a man of a clearer head, a sounder heart, or a more amiable, steady, happy temper”. A lexicographer, grammarian and educationalist, he published a dictionary, a grammar and works on education. With his friend Caleb Evans, he created a first Baptist collection of hymns, containing hymns by himself, Beddome and Wallin.[36]

Caleb Evans (1737-1791) was, like Beddome, Francis and Wallin, the son of a minister. Hugh Evans (1712-1781), originally from Wales, came to Bristol to study and first assisted Foskett, before succeeding him as principal. Caleb followed a similar trajectory, first assisting his father from 1758, then succeeding him after his death. Caleb was very much aware of his Welsh roots, although, unlike his father, he spoke no Welsh. He would attend Association meetings in Wales and preached six times. No doubt Hugh and Caleb were part of the reason why so many came from Wales to study in Bristol. Like Beddome, Caleb studied at the Mile End Academy. Also like Beddome, he was baptised and called to the ministry in London, in Little Wild Street, and was sought as a pastor by a London church, namely Unicorn Yard. His work with Ash on the hymn collection has been mentioned. No doubt it was his friendship with Ash that led to his marrying Ash’s wife’s cousin, the short lived Sarah Jeffries (1738-1771). They had five children together. After her death he remarried – to Sarah Hazel from Bristol. In 1780 he was awarded an MA by Providence College, Rhode Island and a DD by Aberdeen University. On his death in 1791, Benjamin Francis composed an elegy in his honour. He published several books and is remembered for championing the American colonists contra John Wesley (1703-1791) in 1778.[37]

Benjamin Francis (1734-1799) was another Welshman and, like Beddome and Wallin, a son of the manse. His father, Enoch Francis (1688-1740), was a well known preacher in West Wales. Benjamin was only six when his parents died. He was brought up in Swansea and baptised at 15, in 1749, by Griffith Davies. He and his older brother, Jonathan Francis (1722-1801), were baptised the same day. Both became preachers. Benjamin studied in Bristol, where he acquired English. In 1740, he became pastor of the Baptist church in Horsley, Gloucestershire, also known as Shortwood. Francis was not only successful in building up the materially poor church in Horsley but had a remarkable itinerant ministry, preaching the gospel in many places in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire and beyond. He made trips down into Cornwall, across to Ireland and back home to Wales. On fourteen occasions he preached at the Welsh Association.[38] He also appears to have been moderator of the Western Association in 1777 and 1787 and author of the circular letter in 1765, 1772, 1778, 1762 and 1796. Twice married, Francis married a Mary Harris from Wales in 1757. By her he had several children but none survived long, except a daughter, Mary, who died aged 31. In 1766, after his first wife’s death, he remarried, this time to a Mary Wallis, who outlived him. By her, he had ten children. Only three survived him. In 1792, like Beddome and others before him, he was honoured with an MA by Providence College, Rhode Island. In 1795 he preached Beddome’s funeral sermon. He was another hymn writer, in English and in Welsh, and published many poems, especially elegies marking the deaths of Gill, Whitefield, Samuel Pearce and many others. Pertinently, he also wrote a poem celebrating the Association.[39]

Philip Jones, Upton upon Severn (c 1700-1771) was the long serving pastor at Upton, Worcestershire. He appears to have had his roots in Wales but his father moved to Gloucestershire, where Philip grew up. Joshua Thomas says he served the Upton church “with deserved repute about forty years” and was the father of Edmund Jones, “a very respectable minister and pastor of the Baptist church at Exon, Devon” that is Exeter. Philip Jones also served a seventh day Baptist cause ten miles south of Upton, in Natton, Gloucestershire. This appears to be the church in which he grew up. One source says “it is said that he was a holy man of God, a good and lively preacher of the gospel”.[40] His nephew, Thomas Hillier, who had been under Abraham Booth in London and became pastor at Tewkesbury, succeeded him at Natton. Jones had preached at the association as far back as 1736 and was moderator in 1738. He was moderator four further times, 1745, 1751,1754, 1756.[41]When he died, Benjamin Francis, in an elegy for him, wrote:

And could I draw his charming picture true

You’d think an angel not a man I drew
Celestial love within his bosom glow’d
And from his lips celestial tidings flow’d
… In him calm patience, lowliness of mind,
Faith, knowledge, zeal and charity combined ….[42]

Six other notable individuals

As stated, of some of these men we know next to nothing but in some cases we know some things. Here are six more pen pictures.

Joshua Thomas (1719-1797) is another Welshman and another celebrated in an elegy by Francis (The Lamentation of Friendship). The two were good friends and corresponded a great deal.[43] Born in West Wales, Thomas moved to Hereford when young to be apprenticed as a silk mercer to his erudite uncle, Simon Thomas (d c 1743), a Presbyterian minister. There were no Baptists in Hereford so Thomas regularly walked the thirteen miles to Leominster to worship. There he was baptised in May, 1740. On the death of his uncle, he returned to Wales and began to preach. He first ministered at Hay and preached in many other places in the locale. He enjoyed talking to older folk in the area who knew their Baptist history. In 1753 he was called to Leominster and started there in 1754. He remained there 43 years. Like others, he supplemented his income with a school. In 1746, he had married Elizabeth Jones from Lampeter and they had three surviving children. One of them, Timothy Thomas, became the long serving pastor at the Baptist Church in Devonshire Square, London. Joshua Thomas was an influential figure in the Midland Association, being moderator five times (1769,73,86,90,93) and writing the circular letter three times. He maintained his links with Wales, however, and early translated Welsh works defending Baptist tenets into English. In 1778 he published a ground breaking volume of history of the Welsh Baptists, in Welsh. He started this back in 1745 and corrected and expanded it in 1780. He also published in English, History of the Welsh Association, 1650-1790. Slowly his work became known in England and was used by Ivimey and others. In 1791, he published a Welsh translation of the 1689 Confession and in 1794 of a book on the Trinity by Robert Hall (1764-1831).[44]

James Butterworth (d after 1794) and Lawrence Butterworth (1740-1828) were two of five brothers, the sons of Henry Butterworth (1702-1785), a godly blacksmith at Goodshaw, Rossendale, on the edge of the Pennines in Lancashire. Henry Butterworth was a member at Cloughfold, a church pastored by Richard Ashworth (c 1667-1751), a Baxterian, but also benefited from the ministry of the Calvinist evangelist David Crosley (1670-1714) who had been in London, a big man in every sense. Henry’s eldest son followed his father into the blacksmith trade but the other four became ministers. John Butterworth (1727-1803) became pastor in Coventry in 1752. He opposed the heretic Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) in print. The youngest, Henry Butterworth (d 1808) succeeded MacGowan at Bridgnorth. James Butterworth served in Bromsgrove forty years, from 1755, and Lawrence Butterworth served at Bengeworth sixty years, from 1764. Both churches were members of the Midland Association. Lawrence was moderator seven times (1777, 1789, 1790, 1792, 1804, 1808, 1821) and James twice (1782, 1797). Both preached more than once. We know that James was still alive in 1794 because by that year he had made himself obnoxious to the “Church and King’ party by stating his honest convictions respecting the French Revolution. He gave up his long pastorate at Bromsgrove ‘through a violent persecution from the ungodly of this place, by which his health and life were in great danger’, and went to live near his brother John in Coventry. A story is preserved of the Bromsgrove chapel door opening during a service one time and a pistol being fired at Butterworth in the pulpit! The same period saw a secession from the church, perhaps over Butterworth’s revolutionary sympathies, leaving the church very weak.[45]

Thomas Davis (c 1714-1784), yet another Welshman, was from Pentre, Radnorshire, near Llandrindod Wells. This is where Hugh Evans had lived before moving to Bristol. Davis studied in Bristol under Evans and Foskett, then spent some fifty years ministering in Fairford, Gloucestershire. When he came, the church had about 60 members but he maintained it and built it up, by God’s grace. From 1774 to 1788, Fairford, Bourton and other churches held, April to September, double lectures in their chapels.[46] An older and a younger man would preach at each church in turn. It was no doubt at one in Fairford that a famous exchange between Davis and Beddome took place.[47] En route from pew to pulpit Beddome leaned over and asked, ‘Brother Davis, what must I preach from?’ Thinking it an odd remark, Davis replied, in rebuke, ‘Ask no foolish questions’. Misunderstanding, Beddome, whose enquiry had been genuine, went on to deliver what John Rippon (1751-1836) calls a ‘remarkably methodical, correct, and useful’ sermon on Titus 3:9 Avoid foolish questions![48] Following Davis’s death, the Fairford pulpit was supplied by Joseph Kinghorn (1766-1832), then studying in Bristol. Writing home from Fairford he remarks, “The minister had been with them forty years and from what I learn was a man of great sense. … His library is still here, there are many of Jonathan Edwards Treatises, Sermons, &c which I never saw before but intend to read as much as may be.”[49] In the end, Kinghorn went to Norwich and they called a Daniel Williams (1759-1841), a Welshman previously at Unicorn Yard, London.[50]

John Reynolds (1730-1792) the son, it seems, of one of Beddome’s deacons, was baptised in Bourton aged 14. He prepared for the ministry in Bristol, then ministered in Cirencester, 1750-1761, while often preaching at Bromsgrove, Bratton and Cheltenham. He was pastor in Oxford, 1762-1765, then, in 1766, the church at Curriers’ Hall, London, called him, with Bourton’s approval, to succeed John Brine (1703-1765). Gill, Stennett and Wallin again did the business.[51] Ivimey says “nothing very remarkable attended” his labours. “His sermons were methodical, and appeared to be delivered memoriter, with a considerable degree of earnestness, which was generally conspicuous, notwithstanding the injury his voice had received.” Apparently, one day he was dressing and for convenience held his shirt studs in his mouth. A sudden unintended intake of breath meant that he swallowed one and from then on found it difficult to make himself heard, especially if he had a cold. Ivimey suggests “his success was far from being equal to his wishes, but probably greater than his own modest opinion would suffer him to judge.” Rippon says of him “he has been heard in the private circles of his friends to speak with a peculiar solicitude for the conversion of souls – if it were but one soul under his own ministry.”[52] He was considered a very good counsellor and many would resort to him for advice. He put on weight in later years and, towards the end, becoming rather languid, was housebound. However, he remained serene and was often happy to the end. Like MacGowan, he is buried in Bunhill Fields, near his predecessors Brine and John Skepp (1675-1721). Booth preached at his funeral. In 1770, like Beddome, he received an MA from Rhode Island. His only publication was a 1762 sermon for the Bristol Education Society on Ephesians 2:8.[53]

John Stanger (1743-1823) born in Moulton, near Towcester, Northamptonshire, was at first a General Baptist. Baptised in 1759 while learning the stocking making craft in Oadby, Leicestershire and attending Earl Shilton General Baptist Church, he was drawn to Calvinism reading Dialogues of Theron and Aspasio by James Hervey (1714-1758). Befriended by Bourton man, John Collet Ryland (1723-1792) at Northampton, he attended his school and began to court one of Ryland’s church members, Mary Smith (1746-1776), who later became Stanger’s wife. Mary’s father disapproved of John so Ryland suggested a spell in London. On returning, Stanger began preaching in Northamptonshire General Baptist churches and, in 1766, went to work alongside Samuel Benge in Bessels Green, near Seven Oaks, Kent, a church that became part of the new connexion movement.[54] Tensions over baptism, election, communion and Trinitarianism led to a split and Stanger began to head a new work from December, 1770. Eythorne new connexion church gave support,[55] as did Booth and Samuel Stennett in London, but money was tight. Having tried running a school, Stanger then unsuccessfully took on a shop. In 1775, after the birth of a sixth child, his first wife died. Stanger remarried to Mary Lindridge (1748-1835) in 1768. Six more children arrived in due time. Meanwhile, he made “begging tours” to various places. He was only financially stable after his widowed mother’s death in 1781. In 1787 he saw his friend William Carey (1761-1834) ordained in Moulton. In 1790, Bessels Green joined the Kent and Sussex Particular Baptists, Stanger becoming very involved in association life.[56] Not a great preacher, Stanger, nevertheless, preached 1,877 sermons in Kent villages and planted several churches.[57] In 1813 he was at the first Baptist Union assembly. Though infirm, he preached almost to the end, delivering his final sermon in Maidstone shortly before he died. He wrote against the universalist Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797).[58]

Six more men

Of the other ministers present on that day, very little is known. With some, we know only their dates and a little more.[59]

Abraham Darby d 1782, Witney, seems to have become minister of an Independent church in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in 1767. A popular and evangelical preacher, the chapel needed to be enlarged in his time and continued to grow after that. In 1769 an adjoining cottage was purchased and a vestry erected. Some of Darby’s wealthy supporters, however, were drawn to Arianism and he suffered from their unkindness. It left the cause in a precarious state. On November 24, 1782, while preaching from Isaiah 17:7, he was suddenly taken ill and a minute or two after being brought down from the pulpit, he died in the arms of his friends.

Thomas Ferriby 1733-1808, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, was born and baptised in Horsley, Gloucestershire but ministered the other side of the county. While a student at Bristol, 1759-1761, every two months Ferriby would ride over to the church in Thornbury to lead the communion service. He would put up at an inn in Thornbury. Ordained in 1766, he served in Chipping Sodbury 52 years. He probably taught handwriting in the Chipping Sodbury grammar school. In 1774, he married a woman with the delightful name of Hannah Heaven. He was one of six pall bearers at the funeral of Benjamin Francis, December 20 1799.[60] On his own death, it was said that his “sterling piety and unblemished reputation” was acknowledged by all who knew him.[61]

Samuel George (1734-1767), a Welshman from Panteg, near Newcastle Emlyn, West Wales, was one of the last of Foskett’s students in Bristol. He went first to Salisbury, Wiltshire, but then went on to Wantage, Oxfordshire, following the death of the previous pastor, Samuel Bowen (c 1727-1764). He began as a probationer and was then ordained in 1765 by Hugh Evans of Bristol and Daniel Turner (1710-1798) of Abingdon. Sadly, George was suffering from consumption or TB and by May 1767, he was dead. On his grave are these words:

To the memory of the Rev Samuel George pastor of the Christian church at Wantage in this county. He lived justly esteemed for his piety and usefulness and died justly lamented in the 33d year of his age May 14 1767.

The preacher whose so early death we mourn

Here in deep silence speaks our great concern.

John Haydon (1714-1782) was the pastor in Tewkesbury from 1771, where he stayed until his death. He had previously been in London, in Little Prescott Street, where Beddome had been baptised and where they so wanted him as their minister, following the death of Samuel Wilson (1702-1750). It was Haydon, however, who went there in 1752, from Horsley, where he had been from 1737. While at Horsely, Haydon had taken part in Beddome’s ordination. He later moved from London to Tewkesbury because he was struggling with his health. Haydon had been Midland Association moderator in 1755 and wrote the circular letter in 1763 when they met at Tewkesbury. In November, 1771, Haydon had married his first wife but she had died not long after, in February, 1774. He soon remarried, this time to a woman called Joan Hague. In his life time he published five volumes and left behind a handsome legacy for the support of a charity school at Westmancote, near the church.

William Hitchman c 1728-1802 from Hillesley, near Wotton under edge, Gloucestershire, was the pastor of what was then a mixed Baptist church but that later became a Particular Baptist church. Hitchman came there in 1761. He was from the seventh day Baptist church in Natton, where Philip Jones was pastor. His assistant or co-pastor in latter years was his long serving deacon Joseph Rodway (1742-1799), father of the ministers James Rodway (d 1841) and Joseph Rodway (d 1843). The three became ministers the same day. For eight years Rodway Senior would preach in the morning and Hitchman in the evening. Hitchman kept a school in Hillesley. One of his pupils was the Independent minister, Charles Buck (1771-1815). Buck later wrote of Hitchman:

In addition to his labours as a preacher he laid himself out for general usefulness in this and the surrounding places There was hardly anything that he could not do. The weak and superstitious consulted him in the hour of alarm, parents sent their profligate sons to him to be instructed and reformed, the watchmaker employed him to make calculations, farmers engaged him to measure their lands, in which I often used to assist him. He studied pharmacy and could mix a medicine, extract a tooth and use the lancet as well as many gentlemen of the profession. He gave advice to the poor, made the wills of those who possessed property and was ready to do good to all. He could construct a weather glass, draw a map and make an almanack. He was a very assiduous cultivator of his garden and orchard and was no stranger to the science of botany. Above all he was a good man and shone as a light in a dark village for many years.[62]

Daniel Thomas (1720-1769), Henley-in-Arden, appears to have been born into a leading family in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. He first heard the gospel through Methodists in the area and came to the attention of Griffith Jones 1683-1761 of Llanddowror, a pioneer in Welsh education. Thomas became a schoolmaster across country in Monmouthshire, where he also became a Methodist exhorter, at the same time becoming well known among the Baptists. At some point, while still in his twenties, he was encouraged to leave teaching and focus on the ministry. He was then appointed as a missioner to North West Wales, where “the inhabitants were very hostile towards religion. He was beaten and injured, greatly abused and nearly lost his life among them”. He suffered as a result of the injuries then sustained for the rest of his life. Having been a minister for some time and having come to Baptist convictions, he was baptised in Penygarn, Pontypool, in 1753, by Miles Harry 1700-1776. Two years later he accepted a call to the Baptist church, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, where he was for three years before being succeeded by MacGowan. Thomas moved next to Moreton Hampstead, Devon. Again, still suffering with ill health, he was there only a relatively short time before moving back in 1761 to another Midland association church, Henley, where he remained until his death at the young age of 39. Henley is where Beddome was born and where his father was minister in a previous generation.[63]

The ten others

Nathaniel Overbury (1730-1805) Tetbury, was the first minister of the church in the place where he was born, his family having begun the work. He probably carried on in the family business as a wool stapler, as well as ministering. He was married to Mary Roper (1740-1815) from Bengeworth. They had a number of children who lived to adulthood. Overbury was a signatory, with Beddome, Gill, Jones, Mower and others to the will of Elizabeth Seward (d 1753) whose bequests were a help to several churches.

Benjamin Whitmore (1728-1804) Hooknorton, Oxfordshire, pastored the church there fifty years, 1754 to 1804. He succeeded Daniel Evans and John Nottage who both served only a short time, 1743-1747 and 1747-1753. In Whitmore’s time the chapel was rebuilt (1778-1781). He would write the circular letter for the association in 1766 (A consistent walk) and was moderator when the association was at Hooknorton in 1784. His wife, Sarah, died in 1792.

Isaac Woodman (1715-1777) Sutton in the Elms, was a contemporary of Beddome in Bristol, and was baptised there in 1735. He was at Warwick, 1740-1746, where he succeeded Job Burt (d 1739) and where a new meeting house had been built in his time. In 1743 he preached at the Association meetings there. He was at Colnbrook, Berkshire, at some point, probably 1748-1750 but went to Sutton in 1750, where he was ordained in 1753. In 1750, he was in contact with the Baptist Board in London seeking funds to erect a building in Harvey Lane, Leicester. That happened in 1756 and in 1760 several Sutton members left to form the Leicester congregation, initially under Christopher Hill (1724-1786), older brother of Robert Hall Sen (1728-1791) of Arnesby. In 1765 Woodman was also moderator at the Northamptonshire Association and again in 1771. He wrote the circular letters in 1771 and 1775. In 1770, at the same time as Beddome, he was awarded an MA from the college in Rhode Island.

Thomas Skinner (d 1782) Alcester, went there in December 1766 and was ordained September 7, 1768, remaining in Alcester the rest of his life. He preached at the association in 1766 on Philippians 1:6, also in 1769 and in 1772 on Acts 20:21. Skinner’s ministry in Alcester followed the lengthy one of John Overbury, uncle to Nathaniel, and was followed by the brief one of the heretical Benjamin Spencer (c 1755-1822) who became Unitarian.[64]

Samuel Sleap (d 1774) was pastor of the church in Princes Risborough, near Chesham in Buckinghamshire. The church dates back to about 1714 or earlier and Sleap was preceded by three other men. He became pastor in 1752 and was himself succeeded, following his death in 1774, by his nephew, James Sleap (1742-1811).

Richard Strange (d 1768) Stratton St Margaret, was, like Reynolds, originally from the Bourton church. He became pastor at Stratton St Margaret, now a suburb of Swindon, Wiltshire. He was probably the son of Joseph Strange (d c 1781), one of Beddome’s deacons. In January, 1751, Strange, with a certain William Lawrence, applied to the Baptist Board in London for help to build a meeting house in Stratton.

These last four men we know next to nothing at all about, not even their dates.

Nathaniel Carpenter Middleton Cheney was born in Thorpe Mandeville, where he lived and died. Thorpe Mandewille and Middleton Cheney are next to each other. Both places are near Banbury, Oxfordshire. Carpenter was the first minister of the church there. It began about 1740 and joined the association in 1762. Carpenter took part in Ryland’s induction after his move to Northampton in 1759. Carpenter remained as minister of Middleton Cheney forty years.

David Davis Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, appears to have come to to the church the same year as the Bourton Association. The name possibly suggests a Welsh connection of some sort.

James, John or Joseph Knight. This could be the man in Warwick, who succeeded Ryland in 1759, the latter having gone to Northampton five years before. This Knight was in Warwick until 1777 and was succeeded by Joseph Stennett (d 1781). It is more likely that this is James Knight, a Bristol student from Moretonhampstead, near Newton Abbot, Devon. There was a Knight in Cork, Ireland at some point. In 1755, James Knight wrote the circular letter for the Western Association, which met at Exeter that year.[65]

Thomas Thomason from Cheshire appears to have been the first pastor in a work started in 1759 in Bollington, Millington or Rostherne, near Macclesfield. He was succeeded in 1766 by Isaac Cheetham (d 1800) who remained there until his death. Tommerson’s connection to others present on this occasion is something of a mystery, although it may have to do with the fact that Beddome’s mother Rachel Beddome (1695-1758) had been a member, as a girl, of a church in Nantwich, 30 miles west of Macclesfield.


So a snapshot of a day or more of friendship and fellowship in 1765 in the depths of the Cotswolds. What a delight such days were, a foretaste of heaven to come.

The last words they would have heard from Beddome would be these:

And now may the adorable and ever blessed Jehovah come leaping over the mountains of your sins and iniquities, and visit you with his salvation. May he pour down in an abundant measure his Holy Spirit upon you. May he bless you and keep you, lift up the light of his countenance upon you and be gracious to you. Under his divine influence, may you stand fast in the faith, quit you like men and be strong. Forgetting the things that are behind, may you press towards them that are before and labour that, whether present or absent, living or dying, in the flesh or out of it, prostrate before the Throne of God’s Grace here or standing before the throne of his judgment, hereafter, you might be accepted of him. Finally, Brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you.[66]

About the author

Gary Brady ThM has been Pastor Childs Hill Baptist Chuch since 1983. Contributor to Glory to the Three Eternal: Tercentennial Essays on the Life and Writings of Benjamin Beddome (1718–1795) (Monographs in Baptist History) Haykin, Paul & Yoo (eds) Pickwick Publications 2019


[1] The Midland Association of Particular Baptist Churches was formed at Warwick in 1655. Founder members – Bourton, Warwick, Alcester, Derby, Hooknorton, Moreton in the Marsh and Tewkesbury.

[2]The Coach and Horses is still there on Stow Road, Lower Slaughter.

[3] Such information can be gleaned from Annual Association reports. Note The Red Lion (1736) The Talbot (1747, 1757, 1769) Upton upon Severn; The Crown (1745) The Sceptre near the Bridge End (1756) Bridgnorth; The King’s Head (1749) The Angel (1773) Pershore; The Crown, between High Street and Church Street, Bromsgrovc (1755, 1768, 1783); The Boar (1758) Alcester; The Unicorn (1760) The Three Horse-Shoes (1772) Leominster; The Hop-Pole, Foregate Street (1754) The Unicorn, Broad Street (1767, 1780) Worcester; The Unicorn (1774) Bengeworth; The Ram (1779) Cirencester; The Fleece (1776, 1790) Tewkesbury; The George (1791) Ross on Wye. Beddome was born in a former inn, in Henley-in-Arden. His father had had it converted into a family home and place of worship. Beddome’s manse in Bourton on the Water is today The Manse Hotel.

[4] Whitsun 1765 was May 26. Correspondence between Frances Snooke (1732–1766), a member of the congregation, and her brother-in-law Richard Hall (1728-1601) reveals that the new chapel was first used July 21.

[5] Thomas Brooks, Pictures of the past: the history of the Baptist Church Bourton–on-the-water (London, Judd & Glass, 1861), 53.

[6] Bewdley is mentioned in the association letter but not by Brooks. At that time, the minister was James Kettleby (1697-1767) who began there in 1718. He was first a member, then an occasional preacher, then pastor. After extended probation, he was ordained in 1725 remaining until his death. He published a Hebrew grammar (1762). Dudley sent apologies that year, their first. In 1780 they called their first pastor, northerner Abraham Greenwood (1749-1827).

[7] Association ministers: Skinner, Alcester; L Butterworth, Bengeworth; Turner, Birmingham; Beddome, Bourton; J Butterworth, Bromsgrove; MacGowan, Bridgnorth; Whitmore, Hooknorton; J Thomas, Leominster; Carpenter. Middleton Cheney; Ash, Pershore; Woodman, Sutton-in-Elms; Haydon, Tewkesbury; Jones, Upton and Knight, Warwick. Daniel Thomas, Henley-in-Arden, can also be included here as Henley was under Alcester’s oversight. The Davises, Evans, Ferriby and Francis all belonged to Western Association churches.

[8] Bourton-on-the-Water railway station opened in 1881 and closed in 1964. It was on the Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway taken over by The Great Western Railway in 1896.

[9] Missing names? John Poynting (1719-1791) Worcester, moderator in 1764. Also three more Bourton men: John Collet Ryland (1723-1792) Northampton, John Haynes (d 1768) Bradford on Avon, Nathaniel Rawlins (1734-1809) Trowbridge. Ryland’s father farmed land near the now abandoned village of Lower Ditchford, about 10 miles west of Bourton. Ryland and Haynes were baptised in Bourton in 1741 and Rawlins in 1750. Rawlins ministered in Trowbridge, except for a brief sojourn in Broughton or Broughton Gifford. Jacob Mower, Bengeworth and Evesham, died the year before; William Christian, Shepshed, suddenly on January 1, 1765, at a gathering of ministers.

[10] A post-chaise was a closed body on four wheels sitting two to four persons and drawn by two or four horses.

[11] Surgeon apothecaries were fully trained in the dispensing and use of medicine and were permitted to perform surgery. Like other ministers, Beddome probably continued some form of medical practice after becoming a pastor.

[12] Preaching dates include 1743 Leominster; then possibly 1746, 1749, 1752, 1755, 1758 and 1760 Leominster; 1764 Birmingham, 2 Cor 1:14; 1767 Worcester, Lk 24:29; 1770 Bewdley; 1773 Pershore, Jas 1:26; 1776 Tewkesbury; 1778 Warwick, 1 Kgs 18:17; 1780 Worcester; 1784 Hooknorton; 1786 Alcester; 1789 Evesham, Php 4:3, his last.

[13] There is a brief biography of Beddome by Michael Haykin in Michael Haykin and Terry Wolever (eds.), The British Particular Baptists Vol 4 (Springfield: Particular Baptist Press, 2018). Wallin, Francis, Ash, Evans and J Thomas also have biographies in the same series.

[14] Four portraits are online at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ Evans (File:Portrait_of_Reverend_Caleb _ Evans_D.D_(4674112).jpg), Francis (File:Portrait_of_The_Revd._Benjamin_Francis,_A.M_(4670733)_(cropped).jpg) Macgowan (File:John_Macgowan_1825.jpg), J Thomas (File:Portrait_of_Joshua_Thomas_(4673043)_(cropped).jpg). For Reynolds see https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/56961/rev-john-reynolds-about-1731-1792-baptist-minister-cripplegate-london; Stanger http://www.airgale.com.au/stanger-t/pictures/rev_john_stanger_1743-1823.jpg There is a portrait of John Butterworth if not of his brothers. Memorial plaques or tablets exist or existed in at least two cases. Beddome’s is still in the Bourton church; there was also one for Turner in Cannon Street, Birmingham. Francis wrote elegies for Evans, Jones and Joshua Thomas.

[15] Unlike Thomas Wilbraham, a blind Baptist minister in this period who became a Sandemanian and left the ministry to become a schoolteacher. Welsh Baptist preacher Christmas Evans (1766-1838) famously lost an eye as a young man.

[16] In some cases, the wife’s name is known. Beddome, Ash, J Thomas – Elizabeth; Reynolds, Overbury and others, Mary; Wallin, Whitmore and others, Sarah; Ferriby, Hannah. Some remarried after the first wife died. This is so of Evans (both Sarah) MacGowan (Esther then Mary) and Haydon (unknown then Joan). Stanger, probably unmarried at this point would have two wives in due time, both called Mary. Francis also married two women called Mary. At this time he was a widower but remarried the following year. Wallin had been a widower many years by 1765.

[17] The other two are Reynolds and Strange.

[18] The men and approximate years served: Stanger (over 60) L Butterworth (60) Beddome (over 50) Ferriby (52) T Davis, Whitmore (50) J Thomas (43) J Butterworth, Carpenter, Francis, Turner, Wallin, Jones (40) Ash (33) Woodman (27) Reynolds (26) Sleap (22).

[19] Bristol men: Ash, Beddome, T Davis, Evans, Ferriby, Francis, George, Knight, Reynolds, Woodman. Welshmen: T Davis, Francis, George, both Thomases and perhaps D Davis. Jones and Evans had Welsh roots. The northerners: Turner, the Butterworths, Tommerson and MacGowan, born in Scotland.

[20] Beddome, Wallin, Francis, Evans and Stanger were all sons of the manse. Stanger appears to have had a son (William Stanger 1779-1834) and a grandson in the ministry. Overbury’s uncle, John Overbury (d 1764), was minister in Alcester 1729-1764. Edmund Jones 1722-1765 son of Philip ministered in Exeter. Timothy Thomas 1753-1827 son of Joshua succeeded MacGowan at Devonshire Square Baptist, London; James Sleap 1742-1811 succeeded his uncle Samuel; Thomas Hillier (d 1790) was nephew to Philip Jones and followed him at Natton. Beddome’s son Boswell Brandon Beddome (1763-1816) trained for the ministry in Bristol but never became a minister. Like the Butterworths, J Thomas and Francis had brothers in the ministry – Timothy Thomas (1720-1768) and Jonathan Francis (1722-1801).

[21] The Anglican Methodist leader William Grimshaw (1708-1763) once remarked with rueful humour that “The worst of it is that so many of my chickens turn ducks”. He was not the only Methodist seeing converts turn Baptist. See Faith Cook, William Grimshaw of Haworth (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 234.

[22] Such people observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a holy day to God. They take a Baptist view of covenant theology, practice baptism by immersion and accept congregational church government and recognise Sabbath keeping to be a matter of obedience not salvation. Historically, most Christians and churches have rested on Sunday but always some have arrested on Saturday. The first to adopt Baptist doctrine and keep the seventh day arose mid-17th century in England and were a significant minority in the 18th century. Even today more than 500 such churches exist worldwide with some 45,000 members. See https://www.seventhdaybaptist.org/ (Accessed Aug 3 2022)

[23] Francis apparently tried keeping pigs, growing vegetables and fruit and made an unsuccessful foray into the wool trade in order to stay afloat. See the appendix by Thomas Flint to The Presence of Christ the Source of Eternal Bliss A funeral discourse by John Ryland jr Bristol, 1800.

[24] A list of honorary degrees given by Brown University in the 1700s can be found online here – https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/corporation/1700s (Accessed Aug 3 2022)

[25] Those present in alphabetical order: Ash, Beddome, J and L Butterworth, Carpenter, Darby, D and T Davis, Evans, Ferriby, Francis, George, Haydon, Hitchman, Jones, Knight, MacGowan, Overbury, Reynolds, Skinner, Sleap, Stanger, Strange, D and J Thomas, Tommerson, Turner, Wallin, Whitmore, Woodman.

[26] Bromsgrove, Sutton, Birmingham, Leominster, Bridgnorth, were Midland Association churches.

[27] A complete list with approximate mileage: D Davis, Chipping Campden, 12; T Davis, Fairford/Whitmore, Hooknorton, 18; Haydon, Tewkesbury 19; L Butterworth, Bengeworth, 20; Darby, Witney, 21; Ash, Pershore, 25; Overbury, Tetbury, 26; Carpenter, Middleton Cheney and Strange, Stratton St Margaret, near Swindon and Knight, Warwick, 28; Jones, Upton on Severn, 29; Francis, Horsley and Skinner, Alcester, 30; D Thomas, Henley-in-Arden/Reynolds, Oxford, 33; George, Wantage, 36; Hitchman, Hillesley, 37; Ferriby, Chipping Sodbury, 41; J Butterworth, Bromsgrove, 43; Stanger, Towcester, 45; Sleap, Princes Risborough, near Chesham, 52; Woodman, Sutton in the Elms, 54; Evans, Bristol, 55; Turner, Birmingham, 60; J Thomas, Leominster, 61; MacGowan, Bridgnorth, 63; Wallin, London, 88; Tommerson or Thomason, Cheshire, 133.

[28] Dates for Carpenter, Davis, Knight and Tommerson are unknown. Birth dates for J Butterworth, Skinner, Sleap or Strange likewise. Within five years of 1765, George [1734-1767] Strange [d 1768] D Thomas [1720-1769] were dead.

[29] To access online, see shorturl.at/dBLRU.

[30] Gill, Horsleydown, Southwark; Wallin; Stennett, Little Wild Street. Also taking part: Samuel Burford (c 1726-1768) Little Prescott Street, Goodman’s Fields; William Clarke (1732-1795) Unicorn Yard.

[31] There is little biographical material for MacGowan. As with other subjects, some material can be found in Joseph Ivimey, History of the English Baptist (4 vols.; London, 1811-30); Arthur S Langley “Baptist Ministers in England about 1750 AD”, Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society 6 (1918-1919); Baptist Autographs in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 1741-1845 (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2009); Dissenting Academies Online Database (https:// dissacad.english.qmul.ac.uk/); Georgia Southern’s Dissenting Studies 1650-1850 (https://sites.google.com/view/ dissenting-studies-1650-1850/biograph). (Both accessed Aug 3 2022). Also, William Stokes, The History of the Midland Association of Baptist Churches, from Its Rise in the Year 1655 to 1855 (London and Birmingham, 1855). This lack of material is true of all the men except Beddome, Wallin, Francis, Ash, Evans and Thomas.

[32] There is also little biographical material for Turner.

[33] Rhudd later became unorthodox with regard to the Trinity.

[34] There is a brief biography of Edward and Benjamin Wallin by Terry Wolever in Haykin and Wolever, The British Particular Baptists Vol 4.

[35] The other candidates were Bourton men John Collett Ryland and Richard Haynes. Ryland became pastor at Warwick, Haynes at Bradford on Avon.

[36] There is a brief biography of Ash by G H Taylor in Haykin and Wolever (eds.) The British Particular Baptists Vol 2.

[37] There is a brief biography of Evans by Kirk Wellum in Haykin and Wolever (eds.) The British Particular Baptists Vol 5.

[38] Joshua Thomas, A History of the Baptist Association in Wales: From the Year 1650, to the Year 1790 (London, 1795). 1760 Cilfawr Tit 2:14; 1762 Pentre 1 Pt 2:2; 1765 Dolau, Radnor Mic 2:7; 1769 Aberduar Rv 3:19; 1771 Pen-y-fai Ps 126:8; 1774 Ebenezer 1 Co 15:58; 1776 Panteg Php 1:27; 1777 Caerleon 1 Co 2:2; 1778 Salem Lk 10:2; 1780 Llanwenarth 1 Thes 2:13; 1781 Llangloffan Mt 25:21; 1782 Blaenau Zc 14:3; 1789 Maes-y-Berllan Ro 6:15; 1790 Dolau Php 3:16.

[39] There is a brief biography of Francis by Michael Haykin in Haykin and Wolever (eds.), The British Particular Baptists Vol 2.

[40] United States: Board of Managers of the Seventh-Day Baptist Missionary Society, Jubilee Papers: Historical Papers Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Seventh-Day Baptist Missionary Society, and the Centennial of the William Carey Foreign Mission Movement (New York, 1892).

[41] Stokes, The History of the Midland Association of Baptist Churches.

[42] There is very little biographical material for Jones.

[43] The Leominster church has a ms transcript Queries and Solutions of Joshua Thomas and Benjamin Francis of Horsley 1758-70, being the answers of one to questions posed by the other on matters of theology, church government, preaching. There are about sixty items.

[44] There is a brief biography of Joshua Thomas by Kennedy Hart in Haykin and Wolever (eds.), The British Particular Baptists Vol 4.

[45] A. Betteridge, Deep Roots, Living Branches: A History of Baptists in the English Western Midlands (Leicester: Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2010). There is little biographical material for James or Lawrence Butterworth but their older brother John merits a brief biography by John F Jones in Haykin and Wolever (eds.) The British Particular Baptists Vol 5.

[46] The other churches involved were Abingdon, Cote and Wantage in Oxfordshire and Cirencester in Gloucestershire. By the end, Wantage and Cirencester were no longer involved.

[47] It was probably in 1781, the only recorded time that Beddome preached in Fairford for a double lecture.

[48] Ivimey, A History of the English Baptists, 4:462. The sermon appears to be Sermon X of Beddome’s One Hundred Village Sermons Vol V (London: Samuel Burton and Simpkin and Marshall, 1825), 84. The anecdote and the sermon are preserved as an appendix in Haykin and Wolever (eds.), The British Particular Baptists Vol 5.

[49] M H Wilkin, Joseph Kinghorn of Norwich: A Memoir (Norwich: Fletcher and Alexander, 1855).

[50] As with others, there is very little biographical material on Davis.

[51] Also taking part was William Anderson (d 1767) pastor of what became Grafton street, Soho, London.

[52] Ivimey, A History of the English Baptists, 4:321.

[53] Again, there is little biographical material on Reynolds. The main source is Ivimey, A History of the English Baptists, 4:322-325.

[54] The New Connexion – a General Baptist movement, a revivalist offshoot in the Arminian Baptist tradition, one of two main strands within the British Baptist movement. Formed 1770 and always well organised, its leader was Yorkshireman Dan Taylor (1738-1816). Its roots were chiefly in the East Midlands. In 1832 it merged with the hitherto Calvinistic Baptist Union.

[55] Eythorne, like Bessels Green, became Particular Baptist in 1790.

[56] When Bessels Green applied to join, there were only five other churches.

[57] Preaching venues include Brasted, Penshurst, Westerham, Downe, Tatsfield, Crocken Hill, Ide Hill, Borough Green and Seal. Churches were planted in several of these places.

[58] See E. A. Payne, “The venerable John Stanger, Bessels Green”, The Baptist Quarterly: Incorporating the Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society 27.7 (July 1978).

[59] What little there is has been found chiefly in the sources cited above

[60] The others were Baptists, Joseph Burchell, Tetbury and Thomas Simmonds, Wotton under edge and three Independents – Jones, Thomas and Harris.

[61] See The Monthly Magazine: Or, British Register, Vol. XXVI (London: Richard Philips, 1808), 290.

[62] John Styles, Memoirs of the Late Rev. Charles Buck in The Works of Charles Buck Volume 1 (Philadelphia: M’Carty & David, 1822), 13-14.

[63] See David Jones, Hanes y Bedyddwyr, yn neheubarth Cymru (Carmarthen: John Thomas, 1839) 692, 693.

[64] Not to be confused with Devon born Thomas Skinner (c.1752-c.1795) a Bristol student at Towcester then Newcastle.

[65] Langley, “Baptist Ministers in England about 1750 AD”.

[66]The Primitive Church (or Baptist) Magazine, Volumes 17-18 (No. 203, 1st November 1860), 243.