Baptist History Homepage

British Biographies
By J. M. Cramp

John Tombes, B.D. -- Francis Bampfield, A.M. -- Henry D'Anvers -- Edward Terril -- Dr. Du Veil -- John Bunyan

John Tombes, B.D. was an eminently learned man. His writings in defense of believers' baptism were numerous and weighty. Educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, he was appointed to the "Catechetical Lecture" in that Hall, on the death of his tutor, when he was but twenty-one years of age, and discharged the duty to the satisfaction of all concerned. About the year 1631, he obtained the living of Leominster, in Herefordshire, where he
[p. 370]
preached and laboured ten years. His zeal for "a reformation in the Church, and the purging out of all human inventions in the worship of God," exposed him to the fury of anti-reformers. When the King's forces occupied Leominster, Mr. Tombes was driven out of the place, and most of his property plundered. After a short stay in Bristol, he repaired to London, where he preached, first in Fenchurch-street, and afterwards in the Temple Church. But he had been studying the subject of baptism for several years. Doubts respecting the authority of infant-baptism troubled him while he held his lectureship at Oxford. He sought satisfaction with great earnestness and diligence. The Scriptures were carefully examined; the best writings on both sides were read; and frequent conferences were held with learned ministers, for which there was ample opportunity at that time, as the Assembly of Divines was then sitting. But his scruples took faster hold of him, and at length he yielded to the conviction of the unscripturalness of infant-baptism. Dismission from his situation in the Temple followed the publication of one of his works on the subject. He then retired into the country, and became minister of Bewdley, Worcestershire. There, in 1646, he was baptized, and formed a Baptist church, to which he ministered separately, still retaining the charge of the parish; but the want of sympathy between him and the people occasioned his removal, and he returned to Leominster, at which place he closed his public ministry, soon after the Restoration. We have before stated, that he was appointed one of the Triers in Cromwell's time. The terms of uniformity were too hard for him. He withdrew into private life. "Having not long before married a rich widow at Salisbury, by whom he enjoyed a good estate, he resolved to live in rest and peace in his old age."1 The latter part of his life was spent in communion with the
[p. 371]
Church of England, although he refused to accept any benefice or dignity, or to occupy any public position. With singular inconsistency, as it seems to us, he still wrote against infant-baptism.

Mr. Tombes wrote fourteen treatises on baptism. The principal one was entitled, Antipaedobaptism, or a full review of the dispute about Infant-Baptism.

Francis Bamfield, A.M. was one of the "excellent of the earth" in those days. He received his education at Wadham College, Oxford, where he spent upwards of seven years in the pursuit of knowledge. About the year 1639, he entered the ministry of the Church of England. The celebrated Bishop Hall ordained him. Shortly afterwards he obtained a living in Dorsetshire, and a prebendal stall in Exeter Cathedral. In 1655 he removed to Sherborne, where he labored, as in his former location, with exemplary diligence, and was greatly endeared to the people of his charge.

But he had long been dissatisfied with the National Establishment. The corruptions and abuses inherited from Rome were not to be borne with. They could not, in his opinion, be classed among "things indifferent," for they struck at the authority of the Redeemer, as sole Head of the Church, and were totally inconsistent with the spirituality of His kingdom. The enactment of the Act of Uniformity, in 1662, brought Mr. Bampfield to a decision. He took leave of His flock, and commenced preaching as a Nonconformist.

In less than a month he was committed to prison, and there, too, he preached the Gospel. His imprisonments were numerous. One of them lasted eight years. He was then an inmate of Dorchester jail, where he continued his ministerial efforts, and had the happiness of forming a church. He preached in jail almost every day. As soon as he was liberated, he resumed his public work, itinerating
[p. 372]
in several counties. In March, 1676, he became pastor of a Sabbatarian Baptist church meeting in Pinner's Hall, London, which had been gathered by his instrumentality. In the record of the formation of this church, it is stated that "the persons who then agreed to join together in church-communion, according to the order of the Gospel, under the conduct of the said Mr. Francis Bampfield, as their pastor, laid their church state upon the only sure foundation, and agreed to form and regulate it by the only certain rule and measure, expressing the nature and constitution of this church in the following terms: -- 'We own the Lord Christ to be the one and only Lord and Lawgiver to our souls and consciences; and we own the Holy Scriptures of truth as the one and. only rule of faith, worship, and life, according to which we are to judge in all cases.' Accordingly, these principles were subscribed by the pastor and divers brethren on behalf of the rest."1

This was his last station. Here he met with the usual disturbances, the congregation being often broken up by the officers of mis-called justice. On February 17th, 1683, while he was preaching, a constable entered and interrupted him. "I have a warrant from the Lord Mayor to disturb your meeting," said the constable. "I have a warrant from Jesus Christ to go on," replied the preacher, and was proceeding with his discourse, when he was seized and taken, with six of his brethren, to the Lord Mayor, who fined them ten pounds each. Nevertheless, they met again in the afternoon, but were compelled to separate, on which they retired to Mr. Bampfield's residence, where he finished the exercises of the day. That day week he was apprehended once more, and committed to Newgate. At the next Quarter Sessions he and several others were placed at the bar, and the oath of allegiance was tendered to them. They declined to take it, because it was understood to
[p. 373]
comprise an obligation to conform to the Church of England, to which they could not bind themselves; whereupon the Recorder passed sentence to this effect: -- "That they were out of the protection of the King's majesty; that all their goods and chattels were forfeited; and that they were to remain in jail during their lives, or during the King's pleasure." It was not "the King's pleasure" to release them. Death in jail was a common thing during the reigns of Charles II and James II. Mr. Bampfield died in Newgate, February 16th, 1684, being in the seventieth year of his age.

He was a learned man and a hard student. The titles of two of his works seem to indicate that he had embraced the views which were afterwards more fully developed by Mr. Hutchinson, and are so often referred to in Parkhurst's Hebrew and Greek Lexicons. The one is: -- All in One; All useful sciences and profitable arts ire one book of Jehovah-AEloim, copied out, and commented upon in created Beings, comprehended and discovered in the fullness and perfection of Scripture knowledge, 1677: folio. The other is: -- The House of Wisdom. The House of the Sons of the Prophets: an House of exquisite inquiry; and of deep Research; where the mind of Jehovah-AEloim in the Holy Scriptures of Truth, in the original words and phrases; and their proper significancy, is diligently studied, faithfully compared, and aptly put together for the further promoting and higher advancement of Scripture knowledge, of all useful Arts, and profitable Sciences, in one Book of Books, the Word of Christ, copied out, and commented upon in created Beings, 1681: folio.

Henry D'anvers is best known as an author, his Treatise on Baptism being regarded as the most learned and complete work which at that time had been published on the subject. The full title is: -- A Treatise on Baptism; wherein that of Believers and that of Infants is examined by
[p. 374]
the Scriptures, with the history of both out of Antiquity; making it appear that Infants' Baptism was not practiced for nearly four hundred years after Christ; with the fabulous traditions and erroneous grounds upon which it was, by the Pope's Canons (with Gossips, Chrysm, Exorcism, Baptizing of Bells, and other Popish Rites), founded: and that the famous Waldensian, and other British Churches, Lollards, and Wicklifians, and other Christians, witnessed against it: with the History of Christianity among the Ancient Britons and Waldensians. Mr. D'Anvers had been a colonel in the Parliamentary army, and was some time Governor of Stafford. While he held that office he became a Baptist. He was very strenuous for laying on of hands after baptism.
[p. 375]
He was reputed to be a Fifth Monarchy man, and it appears evident that he expected the personal reign of the Redeemer upon earth. In 1675 he was apprehended and committed to the Tower -- probably on suspicion of treasonable practices, which Venner's insurrection had led the Government to connect with Fifth Monarchy principles -- but as no specific charge was brought against him, he was released on bail. It is stated by Crosby that he was one of the elders of a Baptist church, near Aldgate, London. When he was chosen to that office does not appear. In the reign of James II he united with some others in consultations and plans relative to the Duke of Monmouth's enterprise, and was so far compromised thereby that he was compelled to flee to Holland, where he died in 1686. The high esteem in which he was held by the principal Baptists of that period is shown by a "Vindication" of his work referred to above, to which were appended the names (among others) of Hanserd Knollys, William Kiffin, and Thomas Delaune.

Mr. D'Anvers' complicity in the Monmouth rebellion will be differently judged of according to men's political views. That James II was a tyrant, and that he deserved expulsion, no one now doubts; but where the obligation to entire submission ceases, and the lawfulness of resistance begins, has not yet, we believe, been decided. We who have lived all our days in sunshine, are but ill qualified to criticize the behavior of those who endured the peltings of the storm.

We have read with intense interest the Records of the Baptist Church in Broadmead, Bristol. For those Records we are indebted to Mr. Edward Terrill, who was for eighteen years a ruling elder of that church. He was baptized in the year 1658, chosen to the office of elder in 1667, and died in 1685. During the harassing persecutions through which the church passed, he was truly its earthly mainstay. His house was open for worship whenever it
[p. 376]
was deemed more prudent to meet in a private manner. When the pastor was in prison or compelled to be absent, he was ready to occupy the post of labour and of danger. He was wise in council, kindhearted to the poor, and fertile in expedients to baffle persecutors, and provide for the church's spiritual wants. A Dissenter and a Baptist from conviction, he stood firm to his principles, though despoiled of his property, and not unfrequently committed to prison for maintaining them. In many instances, when tyrant-magistrates thought that they might stretch their power with impunity, he checked their violence by employing the best legal advisers, and thus securing the church from unlawful oppression. In a word, he lived for the cause, and his memory is blessed.

Having acquired considerable property by his marriage, he resolved to devote it to the Lord. By a deed executed in 1678, he placed a large portion -- perhaps the whole -- of his estates in the hands of trustees, the income derivable therefrom to become available, as it should seem, after the death of his widow, and to be expended on the education of young men for the ministry. This was done, he said, for the glory of God, and the propagation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the true love and affection he hath and beareth unto the congregation of which he is a member. With this object in view, he directed that L100 a-year should be paid to "a holy learned man, well skilled in the tongues, viz., Greek and Hebrew, and doth own and practice the truth of believers' baptism, as a pastor or teacher to the congregation." The pastor thus employed was to spend three and a half days in each week in the instruction of young men, not exceeding twelve, members of any baptized congregation in or near Bristol. Ten pounds a year were also to be paid to any four of the students whose friends might be unable to support them. These benefactions may be said to have laid the foundation
[p. 377]
of Bristol College. By them, Mr. Terrill's usefulness is perpetuated.

The history of Dr. Du Veil is extremely interesting. He was a native of France and of Jewish extraction. His parents were probably in affluent circumstances, as it is evident that he received a very liberal education. The study of the prophetical writings of the Old Testament convinced him of the Messiahship of Jesus. When he avowed that conviction, and his determination to embrace Christianity, his father was so enraged that he attempted to kill him, and would have accomplished his purpose had he not been prevented by some persons present. Du Veil joined the Roman Catholic Church, and soon became an eloquent and popular preacher. He acquired considerable fame also as an author, by a Commentary on the Gospels of Mark and Luke, in which he displayed much learning and controversial tact. The University of Anjou bestowed on him the degree of D. D., and he was urged to enter into the lists with the Huguenots, whose powerful defenses of Protestant truths gave no small trouble to Roman ecclesiastics. He engaged in preparation for that work, but found to his astonishment that Protestantism was a purer form of Christianity than he had yet been acquainted with. Honestly following his convictions, he withdrew from France to Holland, since his life would have been in danger had he continued in the former country, and publicly abjured Popery. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to England, where he was received with great respect and liberally befriended by many prelates and dignitaries of the English Church.

He was ordained to the ministry in that Church. In 1679 he published, A Literal Explication of Solomon's Song, and, in the following year, A Literal Exposition of the Minor Prophets. These works greatly enhanced his reputation. The Bishop of London (Dr. Compton) was so
[p. 378]
pleased with them, that he offered every encouragement to the learned author to continue his biblical researches, and gave him the free use of his library for that purpose. This led to another and final change. In the Bishop's library he found the works of Baptist authors, and the perusal of them convinced him that the Baptists were in the right. A pious young woman, a servant in the Bishop's family, introduced him to the church with which she was connected, and of which the Rev. John Gosnold was pastor. Dr. Du Veil was baptized by him, and joined the church, by that act separating himself from the rich and powerful, by whose means he would most probably have obtained ecclesiastical advancement. In 1685 his Literal Explanation of the Acts of the Apostles was published. This is a valuable commentary. It has been reprinted by the Hanserd Knollys Society.

We have been unable to obtain further information respecting Dr. Du Veil. Whether he preached after he became a Baptist, or confined himself to literary labour, is not recorded in any works to which we have had access. Doubtless he devoted his talents to the diffusion and defense of the truth, and it may be inferred that he was usefully employed. It is not often that we meet with such a case. There have been many in all ages who have seen the light, but failed to follow it, through fear of poverty or suffering. Dr. Du Veil was not one of that class. Every change placed him lower in a worldly point of view; but that did not move him. Truth was to be embraced, and conscience obeyed at all risks. Peace to his memory!

John Bunyan's reputation is world-wide. He was truly a God-taught man. His "Pilgrim" tells his tale in nearly all languages, and it is listened to with rapt interest and admiration by men of every clime, and of all varieties of mental culture. It is the peasant's food and the philosopher's luxury.
[p. 379]
The history of his life is so well-known, that it is quite unnecessary to reproduce it here. We will only give a chronological note or two. John Bunyan was born at Elstow, Bedfordshire, in the year 1628. He was converted to God in 1653, and soon after began to preach. On the 13th of November, 1660. he was committed to Bedford jail for "teaching men to worship God contrary to the law." There, with no other aids than the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, he wrote the Pilgrim's Progress, and other works which have immortalized his name. He was released in December, 1672, and spent the remainder of his life in manifold labours for the cause of Christ. As pastor of the church at Bedford, to which office he was chosen December 21st, 1671, while yet a prisoner, "he was instant in season, out of season," and the Church greatly flourished under
[p. 380]
his ministry. When he visited London, people flocked in crowds to hear him: three thousand persons were known to be assembled for that purpose at seven o'clock in the morning. Not unfrequently the learned and the great were among them. Charles II once asked Dr. Owen how it was that he was so fond of hearing a tinker preach. "May it please your majesty," the doctor replied, "had I the tinker's abilities for preaching, I would gladly relinquish all my learning."

He had been engaged in a Christian work when he fell under the death-stroke. A profligate son had so offended his father that he threatened to disinherit him. Bunyan effected a reconciliation. He had been to Reading on this benevolent errand, and was returning home through London, when he was attacked by fever, caused by exposure to heavy rain on his journey, and died at a friend's house after a few days' illness. This was in August, 1688, about three months before the landing of William, Prince of Orange, afterwards William III. How his heart would have been gladdened, could he have witnessed his nation's deliverance!

One of the last treatises which he prepared for the press was entitled, Of Antichrist and his Ruin. It expresses, in his own plain and nervous style, those sentiments respecting Popery and religious freedom which Baptists have ever maintained.

We may indulge in a pardonable pride when we boast of John Bunyan as one of us. We have no name more honored. But we will not attempt to write his eulogy. His works praise him, and will praise him as long as the Church of God abides.
1 Crosby, i. p. 290.
2 Ivimey, i. p. 170.

Next group of biographies here.

[From J. M. Cramp, Baptist History, 1871; reprint, 1987, pp. 369-380. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More on British Baptists
Baptist Biographies
Baptist History Homepage