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Elder David Barrow
By Carter Tarrant
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     David Barrow was born in Virginia, Brunswick county, October the 30th, 1753; baptized in the seventeenth year of his age, and in the eighteenth began preaching; in 1774 he settled in Southampton, and was odained the same year, by elders John Meglamre and Zacharias Thompson. Mr. Barrow took the oversight of Mill-swamp church, in Isle-of-Wight, June the l8th, 1774, and supplied Blackcreek and South-quay churches until he moved to Kentucky, which happened in the year l798. In the counties of' Surry nnd Nancemond, Mr. Barrow suffered much persecution, from the established party.

     See the following narrative:
     He was loaded with slanders, and threatened with imprisonment. In the spring of the year 1774, at the request of a gentleman in the lower end of Surrey county, adjacent to Isle-of-Wight; he appointed a meeting at his house on the Lord's day; a large assemby met. Just before divine service, an officer who was present wished to speak with him privately, who informed him that he had a precept from a magistrate of that county against him, as a disturber of the peace, and that if he preached he must execute it, and take him before said magistrate, from whence he certainly would he sent to jail. To whom he observed, he should not be the first man who had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, and in so good a cause he was not afraid to appear before any of his majesty's justices of the peace in Virginia, nor even Britain itself; and that if God would assist him, he would preach at the risk of all things. The officer proceeded to summon men to aid and assist. Meeting being closed, the officer not seeming in a hurry to execute his office, he let him know that duty called him elsewhere,and that if he did not take him in custody he should withdraw, which he did, the officer failing to execute the precept. He learned afterwards that the reason why he did not do it was the men whom he summoned to aid and assist utterly refused to serve. Thus through much opposition he had to pesecute his ministry; nor did the Revolution itself put an end to persecution in that part of Virginia.

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     He having received an invitation from a certain gentleman to his house, who lived in Nansemond county, on Nansemond river, near the mouth of James river,which he appointed to do, and accordingly attended, in company with another laboring brother; this was on the first of July, 1773. He was informed on their arrival, that they might expect tough usage. A large concourse of people assembled -- it was an opulent neighborhood, and baptist preaching entirely a new thing in that part. A stage had been erected and seats prepared under some shady trees, on a beautiful green. At the introduction of divine service, having read out an hymne, there gathered up to the stage a company of 19[?] or 20 genteely dressed men and one or them said aloud, Let us sing to the praise and glory of God -- and they began, and sung one of the most obscene kind of songs; and being reproved for their audacity, their answer was, We are a parcel of damn'd bad fellows, and are come to get you to baptize us. He utterly refusing to baptize such characters as they were; they then swore they would baptize him; then forcibly took he and his companion, two strong men to each, surrounded by their gang, nearly half a mile to the mouth of creek that put tnto the river, tripping up their heels, dragging them over the oyster-shells, and forcibly butting them one against the other. When they got to the water he tried to reason with them, but all in vain. They asked him if he would prepare himself to go into the water; he told them he should make no preparation on the occasion; then two able bodied fellows led him in, one hold of each arm, and asked him how he baptized people, whether bac's [sic] or face foremost? He answered, he should give them no direction. Some of them answered from the shore, Back foremost; then they plunged him and pressed him into the very mud, and held him there as long as they thought he could endure, and raised him up; they then observed, they had forgotten to enquire whether he believed; then they asked him, if he believed; he answered "I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God; and I am not ashamed of him yet;" then they plunged him as before, and let him go; then led in his companion, who was a weakly man, and
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of a pale countenance, and some of them from the shore told them not to dip that white faced man so much; so they gave him only one plunging, without asking him any questions. The whole congregation were shocked at the treatment, and the women shrieking, Will they kill the men? But no one interferred. Then the good man of the house took them home to shift their clothes for they appeared as sows that had been wallowing in the mire. But before they had gotten half dressed, they came to the house and dragged his companion down stairs, and let him know that if he did not go down they would take him down in the same manner. Then they insulted them in the highest degree, and everyone who spoke a word in their behalf; they also abused the man of the house, and immediately drove the preachers off with their heavy threatenings, if they ever came there again. But what was very remarkable, three or four of them died in a few weeks in a very distracted manner, and it was said, that one of them, a while before his death, wished he had been in hell before he had joined to treat those preachers in the manner they were; so that what with this, and the general outcries of the people against their conduct, there was, in the course of a few months, an opening for the gospel in that quarter.

     That same summer as he was baptizing at South-quay, near a meeting-house of that name, much shipping lying in the harbour, and some behaving rudely, he observed, "You look like gentlemen, and I should expect gentlemen's behaviour, and am sorry to see anything, appear to the contrary." Coming out of the water and passing over the bridge, through a multitude, the brethren singing on the shore behind, a certain man, a captain of a privateer, who was going in the American service, accosted him with a curse, and offered him a fight, which he refused, smote him on the face with his hand, and swore he would go to his vessel, and get his sword and pistols, and put an end to his existence. Mr. Barrow passed on to a house with many apartments, and entered into one to shift his clothes -- the man returned, as he was afterwards informed, and searched several of the rooms, but providentially missed the one he was in. The man shortly

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went out to sea, met with a British man of war, a battle ensued, and he fell in the engagement -- and so he escaped his rage.

     Mr. Barrow moved to Montgomery [County] in Kentucky, June 24, 1798, generally known as an emancipator. In 1805, several Baptist ministers, churches and associations, persecuted him, for insisting on the iniquity of unmerited, involuntary, perpetual, absolute, hereditary slavery. In October 1806, the North District association publicly expelled him from his seat in that association, for preaching the doctrine of emancipation. At their next association, which was in October, 1807, they proceeded to ammend and revoke the act of last association, in expelling elder David Barrow, from his seat in association. However, in the mean time, viz. August 29, 1807, he joined the society known by the name of "Baptized Church of Christ, Friends of Humanity," and does not chose to go back and live with slave holders any longer.

     Mr. Barrow's piety, virtue, ability and greatness of soul is excelled by none, and equaled but by few. The church at Mount [S]terling, which Mr. Barrow has the oversight of, (or at least a majority of them) like himself, are opposed to oppression, of which some of them have made demonstrable proof. This church has a meeting-house, built slovenly of logs, where they meet for business and preaching.


[From Carter Tarrant, History of the Baptised Ministers and Churches in Kentucky &c., Friends to Humanity, Frankfort, KY, 1808, pp. 20-23. Charles Tarrants, Delhi, NY, provided this document. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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