A Brief History of the Baptist Churches
in the North of England
[1786 to 1806]
By David Douglas
Death of Mrs. Whitfield - Mr. Whitfield's resources - Goes to Emshill - Messrs. Pendered and Hutton - Hamsterley library - Newcastle and Oulton - Death of Wesley, &c. - Baptist Mission - Mr. Terry - Mr. John Hall - His successors - Mr. Fernie's death - Mr. Skinner - Mr. Hassell - Mrs. Spence - Sunderland - Mr. Greatrix - North Shields - Mr. Imeary - Messrs. Haldane - New Chapel - Tuthill-stairs - Evangelical society - Mr. Whitfield leaves Emshill - North Shields - Messrs. Short and Sheraton - Mr. Hassell leaves - Mr. Short's death - Mr. Berry - Associations - War and Missions - Ford Forge and Wooler - Yorkshire - Churches.
1786 - Mr. Whitfield had now been nearly fifteen years minister at Hamsterley. He had married soon after he came, and now had three children. Mrs. Whitfield was a delicate person, and soon sunk under her infirmities. She died 9th January, 1785.
Mr. Whitfield's resources, at Hamsterley, were ever slender, owing to the scantiness of the surrounding population, the smallness of the congregation which never would exceed two hundred, and for the most part, ranged from one hundred to a hundred and fifty; and the general poverty of the people. A few of these who had property were very considerate of his wants; but, perhaps, some others, not so much so. Some had large families, and were unable to give much; but, generally speaking, it happened to him as to others, according to the old adage, where there was a will there was a way. Where there was Christian principle, in connexion with industry, economy, and sympathy of disposition, there was
always the amount that betokened Christian love; and Mr. Whitfield always regarded it as Paul did, and as God himself did, the liberality of the Philippians - one of the poor churches of Macedonia, namely, as "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable to God." He looked on their support of him, as "fruit that would abound," not only to his, but to their account, in the end of the day, when the cup of cold water given to a disciple, in the name of a disciple, shall in no way lose its reward.
But the salary of Mr. Whitfield, from his people, only about thirty pounds, was very inadequate to the support of his family, though himself a man of great economy. He opened a school, and for some years had a few boarders, which, in a pecuniary point of view, assisted him materially. The school was not only thus beneficial to himself, but to the neighbourhood, as a kind of education, through him, could be supplied, that could not be easily otherwise secured in such a detached situation. Much has been said and written on the salaries of ministers, and on their being engaged, or not engaged, in secular callings; but no absolute rule can be given for every case. The law of Scripture is, "The Lord hath ordained that they that preach the gos-pel shall live of the gospel;"* but, as in Paul's case, though all things may be lawful, they may not, for different and important reasons, be always expedient. On this latter principle, in not taking from the churches, Paul himself acted, under the two following circumstances: First, when the people were newly converted and poor, as at Thessalonica; and second, when they were rich, and gave grudgingly, as at Corinth. Mr. Whitfield was guided in his conduct, in a great degree, by the same views.
It is but proper in writing the history of Dissent, that
* 1st Corinthians ix. chapter, 14th verse.
the working of the voluntary principle, in opposition to the compulsory one, should be known and distinctly understood. It should be so, both by those who oppose and those who profess to embrace it, that the former party may know the. thing as it is, and the latter be led to work it out more scripturally, and with greater sympathy and consistency, than has been done by the major part of those who profess it.*
Mr. Whitfield, in addition to his salary, had a house to live in attached to the chapel, a small sum as interest from some previous donations already alluded to, a grant of five pounds from "Lady Hewley's fund," and about the same sum from the "Baptist fund" in London. His income, from all these sources, and a small annuity of his last wife, might be somewhere about sixty or seventy pounds annually, and with this he had to support himself and family in a condition becoming his station; but such were his careful and economic habits, that he was enabled at that time, not only to give to all their due, but he had somewhat io spare to him that needed.
Such had been Mr. Whitfield's general condition, varied by circumstances, since he came to Hamsterley, in 1772 or 1773; but, at the period of our narrative,
* With regard to the above principles, it will, we think, be confessed generally, that the first, the compulsory, leads to tyranny and despotic rule; and the other, the voluntary, generally leads to liberty and the good of the many. The operations of the Puritans and Nonconformists led to the latter effects, as also those of the Wesleyans in England, and the Seceders and the Free Church in Scotland; and thus, the foundations of civil and religious liberty 'have been laid and sustained, by the ministers' of religion throwing themselves for support on the voluntary offerings of those who, from principle, with themselves, left the Anti-christian trammels and doings of a State Church. These blessings can alpne be maintained by similar resolution and disinterestedness.
after being a widower for about a year and a half, he married Mrs. Garthorn, of Emshill, in the vicinity of Hamsterley.* This event greatly contributed to Mr. Whitfield's worldly comfort and influence in the neighbourhood. Owing to the youth of Mrs. Whitfield's eldest son, Mr. W. had the whole management of the estate, so that with both his spiritual and temporal occupations, his hands were quite full. The situation indeed, suited his temperament, for though very studious and devoted by taste, as well as duty, to his sacred employment, he had, notwithstanding, a partiality for certain secular pursuits, being particularly fond of both legal studies and agriculture. He was naturally formed, both by the strength of his mind and the energy of his character, for taking the lead in whatever society he was cast; he was now, therefore, a prominent man among the yeomanry and farmers, in the surrounding country. His social disposition, his general intelligence on all subjects, his manly and portly appearance, together with the general urbanity of his manners, tended to all this, independently of the weight which attached to his ministerial office. It may naturally be supposed, that the combination of these circumstances would tend also to
* Mr. William Garthoni, Mrs. G.'s former husband, was the fifth son of Mr. Michael Garthoni, of New Row, already mentioned. He died at Bristol, November 10, 1781, and left a family of four children, three of whom still survive (1844); Mr. Michael Garthorn of Emshill, Mr. John of Snowbank, and the youngest, Mrs. Jopling of Canada. This latter affirmed to the writer, that it was a great blessing to the family at Emshill, when Providence led Mr. Whitfield into it. It may be also mentioned to his honour that he endeavoured to give the children the best education, and this required nearly the whole resources of the small estate. Also, when Mrs. Whitfield died, which happened only nine years after, he declined taking for his life, the rent of a property she held in her own right. Many would have felt themselves justified in acting otherwise; but, disinterestedly, he let it immediately go to her son.
give him increased importance in his own Denomination. It did so. He was not only highly respected by the churches of the Northern Association, but by all the ministers and churches in London, and the kingdom generally, that had any acquaintance of him.
After a residence at Newcastle, of nearly six years, Mr. Pendered was at length ordained, this year, 1786. Messrs. Whitfield, and Langdon of Leeds, engaged in the services. Mr. Hutton, about this time, returned from America, and again undertook the charge of the church at Broughton.
1787-1790. - During the succeeding years of 1787, 1788, and 1789, very little good was done at Hamsterley; only two were added to the church. A considerable number of the old members had died, and their places were not filled up by others. Mr. Whitfield was blest with earthly comfort, but an equal measure of spiritual success did not attend his labours. He was, in consequence, greatly. distressed with the thought, as he himself expressed it, of religion dying around him. On the first day of January, 1790, he preached from Proverbs x. 1, and proposed the formation of a library. One was accordingly formed, which still exists, and has now, [1844,] upwards of 500 volumes. This is one of the noblest monuments of his useful ministry. The 24th April was also devoted to prayer, for a revival. Mr. Thomas Jopling, one of the deacons, died this year; and Mr. James Jopling, his nephew, youngest son of his eldest brother Joseph, was called to succeed him. This year Mr. Pendered left Newcastle, having given offence to some of his people, by preaching against pawn-broking. He went first to Hull; and then to Royston, near London, where, at an advanced age, he died. He was a man of cultivated and superior mind. Mr. Ross, of Rowley, also left this year. During the five years he had been settled, he had enjoyed but small success.
everal interesting additions were, however, made, both from the Angus family and others. Mr. "Wharton, of Oulton, died also about this time.
1791-1793. - *The period included within this year
* Although we are Baptists, and attached, from principle, to our own denomination, we yet delight in good done to Christianity from whatever quarter it springs. We cannot, then, forhear noticing the deaths of four or five remarkable individuals, who, about this time, were called home to their everlasting inheritance. These are, Mr. Charles Wesley, who died March 29, 1788, aged 80; Mr. John Wesley, his brother, died 2nd March, 1791, aged 88; and the Countess of Huntingdon, who died June 17, 1791, aged 84. To these three individuals, Britain and the world are much indebted. Their great and distinguished friend and coadjutor, Mr. George Whitfield, the great evangelist of modern times and of all parties, had died twenty years before them, at Newbury Port, near Boston, in America, September 30th, 1770, aged 56. It was also, in the year 1791, that Dr. Caleb Evans, of Bristol College, tutor of Mr. Robert Hall, Mr. Joseph Kinghorn, Mr. Samuel Pearce, Dr. Steadman, and many others, died 9th August, aged 54. These may truly be said, to be the precursors of the glorious missionary era, which had its commencement immediately on their exit.
It was in the year 1792, that the Baptist Missionary Society was formed, 2nd October. In 1784, a prayer meeting, by the Northampton Association of Baptist Ministers, was appointed to be held on the first Monday of every month, for the extension of Christ's kingdom in the world. Mr. Carey was ordained, at Moulton, in 1787. Previous to this, he had had his mind much set on the religious state of the world. He had also an extraordinary aptitude in acquiring languages, and though gaining bread for himself and family as a shoe-maker, he acquired a considerable knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. In 1790, he visited Mr. Pearce, of Birmingham, whose soul had lately been embued, as he himself termed it, by Dr. Coke, with a passion for missions. They were kindred spirits. In 1791, two sermons were preached one by Mr. Sutcliff, from 1st Kings xix. 10; and the other by Mr. Fuller, from Haggai i. 2. Mr. Carey was requested, at this meeting, to publish his "Enquiry into the state of the Heathen" &c. At the annual association of 1792, Mr. Carey
was one of great spiritual increase at Hamsterley. Prayer had been earnestly presented for a revival, and it came. In 1791, six persons were baptized. In 1792, Mr. Whitfield went to Midlam, Yorkshire, where Mr. Fernie had formed a small church of about twelve or fourteen persons. Mr. Fernie, having for a considerable time, become infirm, Mr. Whitfield had during that period visited them twice a year. The present was one of his usual visitations. He preached at Mr. Joseph Robson's, Woodhall, from Matthew xxviii. 19, 20. Mr. William Terry, a watch-maker from Bedale, with some of his friends, heard him, and were convinced of the truth of Believers' Baptism. Mr. Terry, in his youth, had been a ring-leader in iniquity, being much addicted to cock-fighting and its kindred vices; but he had been brought under the influence of religion by the Methodists. By reading the Scriptures by himself, carefully, he was convinced that the Arminian views of the Methodists were not in accordance with Divine truth; and having stated the matter to his pious friends, only one or two embraced his opinions. They who did, and himself, met together privately, on the Lord's day, for conference and worship, and in course of time their number increased. Mr. Terry began to explain the Scriptures to them, to the best of Ms ability and knowledge. He was invited to
* preached from Isaiah iv. 2, 3, "Enlarge the place of thy tent," &c. His theme - expect great things - attempt great things. It was resolved, that at the next meeting, they would form a Missionary Society. This took place as stated above. The first Collection was L13 2s. 6d. The first Committee were John Ryland, Reynold Hogg, Treasurer; William Carey, John Sut- cliff, and Andrew Fuller, Secretary. Mr. Pearce was added, 31st October, in the same year. He had collected L70 towards the mission fund, at Birmingham. Mr. Carey and family, with Mr. Thomas, embarked for India, June 13, 1793; and word of their arrival was received at home, July 29, 1794.
speak at Snape and Masham, where his parents and others became the fruit of his labours. He afterwards became acquainted with the few Baptists living at Woodhall, Midlam, &c.; and this led to his hearing Mr. Whitfield at the period referred to.
Mr. Terry came the day after the meeting, and requested to be baptized; but having, as yet, but little acquaintance with him, Mr. Whitfield thought it might be more prudent to delay for the present; suggesting the idea of a little further research, relative to the principles of Nonconformity, &c.; and after his mind was fully established, he might come to Hamsterley, be baptized, and join the church there.
On the 3rd January, 1793, Mr. Terry, and one of his friends, came to Hamsterley, and were baptized on the 5th, and received into fellowship with the church. Mr. Terry was requested to speak in the evening. He did so, was approved, and appointed to minister among his friends at home. On another visit of Mr Whitfield, eight more were baptized, and being now eighteen in all, the people requested to be formed into a church. On the 29th August, they were united as a Christian society, Mr. Whitfield preaching from Ephesians ii. 21, 22; and Mr. Cook, from Matthew xi. 6. On the 13th November, Mr. Terry was ordained, and commenced a distinguished career in preaching, at Bedale his usual residence Snape, Masham, Crakehall, together with a number of other villages in the neighbourhood.
Mr. John Hall, one of the deacons of the church at Hamsterley, died 30th April, this year. He was baptized by Mr. Carr, in 1732, in his twentieth year, and was called to the deaconate, in 1760. He was a man eminent for piety, and the possession of a cheerful and contented disposition. When anything of an unpleasant nature occurred, involving either trouble orloss, his uniform declaration was, "It might have been
worse." He was not a man of great capacity, but by his holy conduct, his peaceable demeanour, and his ardent, yet artless prayers, he became extremely useful while alive, and his memory is still fragrant in the recollection of all who personally knew him, or heard of his truly Christian worth. His wife, daughter of Mr. Angus, of Panshields, died on the 28th of May following; and on the 6th of July, Messrs. James Goodburn and Christopher Spence were ordained as deacons. In 1792, sixteen persons were added to the church, and twenty-six by August, 1793. At that time it was eighty-nine in all; but one had died, and eighteen having, been dismissed to Bedale, it was then only seventy.
1794-1795. - In each of these years, eight were added. On the 20th February, 1795, Mrs. Whitfield died, aged 56. She was peaceable, kind-hearted, and hospitable. Mr. Whitfield's mother died nearly at the same time. Mr. Thomas Blacket was dismissed this year, from Stockton, May 24;* and Mr. Samuel Ruston, grandson of Mr. Ralph Ruston, from Broughton, was baptized, June 28th, and called to the ministry,
* The letter mentions, that the church had been under the care of their highly esteemed brother, David Fernie, now deceased. It is signed by Val. Short, John Fernie, Robert Wright, Allan Cummins, Ralph Elliot, and D_____ Bryon. Mr. Fernie died in December, 1789, aged 89. His grandson, the Rev. John Fernie, writes as follows respecting his decease: "I was only about seven years of age when he died. He lived with my father some years before his death. I was a favourite child, and spent a good deal of time in his room. His last moments are quite fresh in my recollection. I was in the room with him, and he had just finished family prayer, when he requested my father and mother to lead him to bed. Having reached it, he threw himself back, stretched out his hand, said farewell, and expired without a groan." Thus terminated the long and useful career of a man who had been much vilified during his life, and has been so also by some since his death; but who making all due allowance for the infirmities of human nature appears to have been a man of piety, talent,
November 8th, the same year. This year, also, on the 25th and 26th August, the Northern Association was resuscitated. It included three churches: Newcastle, Rowley, and Hamsterley. Messrs. Crabtree, of Bradford, Blacket, Rowland, Angus, and Shaw,* took part in the services of this association.
Mr. Skinner, of Newcastle, also died this year. He had been preceded at Tuthill-stairs, by Mr. Hartley, formerly of Bingley, in 1791, who continued for one year, and was then succeeded by the justly-celebrated Mr. John Foster, author of the Essays on "Decision of Character", &c., who did not remain long; and in the close of 1792, Mr. Skinner arrived from Towcester, and then commenced his ministry at Tuthill-stairs chapel. From his coming, he had been involved in much trouble in the church, which greatly prevented his usefulness. He was of a timid disposition, and consequently ill adapted to repress the rude and forward characters that more or less are to be found in all associations, particularly those that are founded on voluntary principles. In the early part of the year 1795, Mrs. Skinner was affected by a febrile disorder, but recovered. Her husband fell under its influence about a fortnight after. In the first
and energy. He was known to several of the most distinguished men of his own day, and respected by them; as time also rolls on, his name, by his own denomination, at least, will ever be associ- ated with the honoured name of the author of "Help to Zion's Travellers," Robert Hall, of Arnsby; and with that also of his still more celebrated son, Robert Hall, of Cambridge, Leicester, and Bristol; together with the more lowly, but still interesting youthful names of James Rutherford and William Peden.
* Mr. Shaw was brother-in-law to Mr. Ward, the friend of Mr. Fishwiok, and father of Thomas Shaw, Esq., of Newcastle. He was an occasional preacher at Tuthill-stairs, and some of the people said, they preferred him, as a preacher, to the distinguished essayist Mr. John Foster.
instance, he so far recovered as to be able to preach a sermon, for the Baptist Mission, on the following Lord's day, and also to give a short exhortation, in the'vestrjj on the Tuesday succeeding; 'but cold havingseized him, the fever returned with increased violence, and terminated his useful life, February 11th, 1795.
Mr. Skinner was educated at Bristol academy, under Dr. Caleb Evans, and became the first pastor of the church at Clepstow, in Northamptonshire, where he remained from 1779 to 1783, and baptized sixty persons. He removed to Towcester, in the same county, where he baptized thirty individuals, and removed to Newcastle, in the end of 1792. He was interred in the Dissenters' burying ground, near Newcastle, called the Ballast Hills, where the people of his charge erected a tomb-stone, commemorative of his worth and their attachment to him.
Mr. Rowland, who left Rowley, this year, supplied the church at Newcastle, for some time after Mr. Skinner's death. Mr. James Angus, a member of the church at Whitehaven, and a student at Bristol college, supplied some time at Rowley, this year; but was succeeded by Mr. Hebron, then an Independent, in connexion with the church in the Postern, Newcastle, but afterwards a Baptist.
1796. - The association was held this year, at Newcastle, 16th, 17th, and 18th May. Messrs. Whitfield, Rowland, and Jones, (Independent,) of Durham, engaged in the services. A few members had been added to the churches; two of these at Hamsterley. The state of religion was low. Mr. Whitfield was the only pastor in the association. A day for fasting and prayer was appointed, and the churches were recommended to cultivate their gifts, and endeavour in their different localities, to spread the gospel. At Newcastle, when Mr. Rowland left, Mr. Tate supplied for some time;
and at length, in November, a minister arrived, who became one of the most useful the church there had ever enjoyed. This was Mr. Thomas Hassell, from Plymouth, recommended by Mr. Isaiah Birt, minister of that place. Under him the church greatly revived, a considerable number being baptized during the first year of his ministerial labours.
1797. - The association was, this year, held at Cold Rowley. Messrs. Whitfield, Ruston, Jones, Hassell, and Hebron preached. One only was added to the church, at Hamsterley. But who hath despised the day of small things? "God does not," said Mr. Fuller, at one time, "and who dare?" Unity is sometimes infinitely preferable to plurality, Many persons have been added to churches, many to the church at Hamsterley; but there have been few, in almost any church, more pious, more consistent, and more useful, than the one added this year, the wife of one of the deacons, Mrs. Margaret Spence. She died in 1831. Her memory is still fragrant. Four had died, and one had been excluded; the whole number, now under Mr. Whitfield's care, being seventy-eight.
At Sunderland, this year, the Baptist cause had revived. There were Baptists, if not a church, in this town, during the protectorate of Cromwell. A relative of General Lilburne's lived here, and was mayor of the town, as we have seen, page 10, and also a member of parliament for the county of Durham, in 1654, along with the General. In 1663, he was accused of connexion with the Anabaptist plot, at that time, along with Mr. Richard Johnson and Mr. Foster, of the same place. As we have seen also, Mr. William Peden, after his baptism, in 1752, by Mr. Fernie, was placed here, as minister. He died young; but Mr. Bowser was minister here, probably from about 1762 to 1780, when he
went to Whitehaven. In what state the cause was, during the ensuing seventeen years, we have not the means of knowing; but this year, a new church was formed, prohably with some of the old materials and others, and Mr. Biggs was ordained pastor. The services were conducted by Messrs. Whitfield and Hassell.*
A new cause was begun about this time, in North Shields. The circumstances connected with this are somewhat interesting. A young man was passing through Newcastle, on his road to London, to engage in missionary work, under the auspices of the London Missionary Society. At Newcastle, he attended at Tuthill-stairs chapel, and saw a professed disciple of our Lord baptized. He was struck with the primitive mode of the administration, but did not make known his feelings to any one. He proceeded on his intended journey, and arrived at the metropolis. Before, however, attempting to go abroad, he felt disposed to scrutinize, in a more searching manner than he had done, his
* The following is an extract from the association letters of this church, in 1779: "We have chosen our beloved pastor, Mr. Bowser, as one faithful in the Lord; and our brother, William Lamb, as our messenger. Our number at present is fourteen, and in general poor. Since last association one member has been added to us. We are low in temporal things, and able to do little for our beloved pastor, &c. In spiritual things we have reason to complain of our deadness," &c. The letter is signed by John Bowser, pastor, George Nicholson, Hugh Cock, William Harwood, Thomas Robinson, and William Lamb. There is a tradition, that the late Mr. Greatrix, of Hetton, after he had served his apprenticeship, as a tailor, with Mr. George Nichol- son, who had married the widow of Mr. Skinner, of Tuthill-stairs, Newcastle, went from town to town through England, supporting himself as a journeyman, and begging in each town for a new meeting-house, in Sunderland; and it was through his labours in this way, together with those of Messrs. Nicholson and Biggs, that the present chapel of Sans-street was erected. There are some worse examples of apostolic succession than that of Mr. Greatrix,
views on Baptism. The result was, lie was determined to be immersed as a believer. In pursuit of this, he resolved to return to Newcastle, be baptized by the minister who had convinced him of his error, and ask his advice with regard to future usefulness. This was done without delay, and Mr. Hassell baptized him. As there were some of the members of Tuthill-stairs re- siding at North and South Shields, it was resolved to send their young friend to North Shields, to preach the gospel there and in the neighbourhood, and he commenced preaching in a small chapel, in Walker-place. The Lord smiled on the infant attempt, and thus the Baptist church at North Shields had its commencement. The young man above mentioned, was Mr. Robert Imeary, the first pastor of the church. He was a native of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, and had come under the influ- ence of the religious revival, which, at that time, took place in that country, under the guidance of those distinguished men, Messrs. Robert and James Alexander Haldane and their noted assistants.*
* Messrs. R. and J. A. Haldane were descended from the Haldanes of Gleneagles, Perthshire, from the ancient Earls of Lennox, whose property they inherited along with the royal house of Darnley and the Napiers of Merchiston. Their father was James Haldane, Esq., of Airthrey, and their mother was sister to Admiral Lord Duncan. Both parents died while they were young. Their mother was pious, and was accustomed after they were in hed, to pray at the bed-side, that God would specially bless her boys about to become orphans. This they never forgot. They both entered on a sea-faring life Robert, into the royal navy, under the direction of his uncle, the hero of Camperdown. In this service he greatly distinguished himself, till the peace of 1783. James was a captain in the service of the East India Company. In 1794, Mr. Robert's mind underwent a change on the subject of religion, and about the same time Mr. James experienced the power of godliness likewise. They now devoted themselves and all they had to God. Mr. Robert wished to go to India with several eminent coadjutors; but was prevented, after
1798. - On the 19th February, this year, the new chapel, at Tutbill-stairs, was opened. It was begun in July the previous year. Its cost was L1,240. Of this sum, five hundred pounds were collected by Mr. Hassell, in different parts of the kingdom. The rest was discharged by the members of the church, Mr. Fishwick, and Mr. Ward his partner in the Lead Factory - a man of kindred spirit with himself, giving the larger share. The day after the opening of the chapel, Mr. Hassell was ordained. Messrs. Whitfield, Hebron, Ruston, &c., engaged in the different services.
It may be proper here to state, that Messrs. Fishwick and Ward, during the fourteen years previous to the erection of the chapel, had struggled most generously on behalf of the church, in carrying on a litigation respecting the property at Tuthill-stairs. The law-suit arose out of the following circumstances: The trustees, in whom the property was invested, were all deceased, without having conveyed it to successors. The result was, the heir of the last of them claimed the whole, with the exception of the room where worship was carried on, and mortgaged it for L200. About L200
selling his estate for the purpose. After this, he united with his brother, and several eminent ministers, and others, to diffuse the gospel at home. As already noticed, vital religion was low at this time in Scotland; he accordingly selected a number of pious young men, instructed them at his own expense, and sent them to itinerate through the length and breadth of the land. The result was, a very remarkable revival took place. Tabernacles were reared, and Independent churches were formed, in almost all the towns in Scotland. Many of Mr. Haldane's students, educated by Messrs; Ewing, Innes, Wemyss, and Cowie, have become men of the first eminence; and not only Scotland, but England, Ireland, and many other parts of the world have been blessed by their labours. It will be afterwards alluded to, that the Messrs. Haldane and many of their fellow labourers became Baptists. Mr. Robert died 12th December, 1842. Mr. James still survives.
was spent in law ; and when at length the claimant was removed by death, an agreement was made hy the brethren with his trustees, to pay L25 to his widow, and to be responsible for the mortgage. The property being thus recovered, the new chapel, as above stated, was erected.*
The association was held this year at Hamsterley, and gave birth to a new religious institution, called THE NORTHERN EVANGELICAL SOCIETY. Its objects were to unite all the Independent and Baptist ministers of the four Northern Counties, and to establish an itinerancy, to spread the gospel both in their own immediate neighbourhood, and in the more benighted spots of these counties. The scheme arose out of the formation of the Baptist Home Missionary Society during the preceding year. Inspired by the holy doings of their missionaries in Bengal, this society had sent to Cornwall, Messrs. Saffery and Steadman, to itinerate in that dark corner of England, and the result becoming known, others were provoked, by this deed of love, to go and do likewise. Mr. Hassell introduced the subject of village preaching, at the association. The idea was approved of by all the ministers and messengers present. A general meeting was appointed to be held, at Park- head, Cumberland, on August 8th, 1798. The meeting took place accordingly. Messrs. Hassell, Hill, and Whitfield preached. Mr. Fishwick was chosen treasurer to the new society; Mr. Hassell, secretary; and Mr. Whitfield, president.
During this year, 1798, a considerable revival had taken place in the churches generally, but especially a
* What a lesson does this circumstance teach to churches respecting their trust-deeds! It is to be hoped that the Act lately passed - in 1843 - will tend to make them not only cautious respecting their timely renewal, but also respecting the character of the deeds themselves, and how they are deposited.
Newcastle. Twenty were added in all; but of these there was only one added to Hamsterley, and two there had died.
1799. - In the last year of the eighteenth century the annual association of the churches was held at Newcastle, 13th, 14th, and 15th May. Messrs. Whitfield, Hassell, Inieary, Huston, Cook, Moss, Jones, Browning, and Hill engaged in the different services. This year was one of barrenness at Hamsterley; none were added, and one had died. It was about this time that Mr. Whitfield married again, haying left Emshill, and taken up his abode in Hamsterley, the centre of his labours.
This year, 1799, the assembly-room in Stephenson-street, North Shields, was purchased, and converted into a chapel for the Baptist church there. It cost about L800, the one half of which is said to have been paid by Mr. Fishwick, and the other half was collected by Mr. Imeary, in North Shields and other places.
1800. - The association was held this year at Rowley. The ministers already mentioned engaged in the services. Again, this year, none were added to the church at Hamsterley, and one had died. This year Messrs. Valentine Short and Sheraton were ordained ministers of the small Baptist church, meeting at Stockton-on-Tees, and Marton, Yorkshire. The former, Mr. Short, had been connected with this church for many years, and had been its principal prop. On the demise of Mr. David Fernie, in the end of 1789, he was the chief individual who carried on worship, in the little community. He preached to the brethren, in his own house, at Stockton; and once a month administered the Lord's supper to them, at Marton. In 1799, Mr. Sheraton, a member of Mr. Abraham Booth's church, London, and a distinguished mechanic, coming to reside in Darlington, was called by the church to assist Mr.
Short in the ministerial office. Messrs. Whitfield and Hassell conducted the services of the ordination. The meetings of the church had, for some time previously to this, been held in a long room of Mr. Sheraton's, and continued to be so, till his removal, and Mr. Short's' death in 1802.
1801. Till the early part of this year, Mr. Hassell, continued his assiduous and useful labours in Newcastle. At this time, however, he became unhappy, by what he deemed unkind conduct in some of his people towards himself. Under these circumstances, he thought it his duty to remove. This was a matter much to be deplored, as the church at Tuthill-stairs, in by-gone years, had suffered so much from the removals of its ministers ; and as it now, under the able ministry of Mr. Hassell, had begun to rear its head. The parties" who were the cause of the removal were deeply culpa- ble. " "Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must be that offences come; but woe to the man by whom they come." The church should have interposed its authority on behalf of Mr. Hassell, and rather with- drawn from these individuals, however influential they might be, than have been guilty of ingratitude to the "man who, in connection with Messrs. Fishwick and Ward,* might be said to have founded the church
* These two gentlemen, so distinguished for their liberality to the cause of God and the general weal of mankind, terminated life very differently as regards worldly circumstances. Mr. Fishwick, from a condition of considerable affluence, by engaging in cer- tain speculations, which proved unfortunate, became reduced in his worldly condition. He removed to London, in 1806, and in the following year was dismissed to the church under Dr. Rippon. Before the close of his life, he suffered for many months under mental aberration. He died at Islington, January 17, 1825. Mr. Ward removed to Derby, where he built a chapel. There he married a second wife, a Miss Hopper, daughter of Mr. Hopper.
anew. Mr. Hassell himself might not be altogether clear of blame. His haste in removing, on account of one party, or of a few, might be ill judged; and, indeed, it is affirmed that he afterwards acknowledged this to one of the members of the church, who met him in Manchester.+
Mr. Hassell afterwards went to Ireland, and settled for several years at Clough Jordan. He then removed to Shrewsbury, where he closed his useful, laborious, and valuable life.
Mr. Whitfield, this year, published his useful memoir of Mr. Slee; the most popular of all the productions of his pen.
The association was held at Hamsterley, in 1801. The usual ministers were engaged. One was added this year to the church at Hamsterley, and one had died. A Mr. Hoyle supplied at Newcastle, part of this year.
1802. The annual meeting was held this year, for the first time, at North Shields. Hamsterley had one added, and two died. Mr. Valentine Short died this year, at Stockton. It is to be regretted that we know so little of this venerable man, but his life speaks for him. That the cause at Stockton survived in its darkest day, after the death of ita founder, David Fernie, is greatly owing, under God, to his exertions. God has blessed him in his descendants. His daughter has been
Baptist Minister, of Nottingham, and died in opulent circumstances, leaving a widow, who subsequently became the wife of _____ Swinburne, Esq., Banker, of Derby.
+ Mr. Hassell frequently corresponded with his old friends at Newcastle. In doing so, he generally unfolded the warmth of his feelings towards them. At a late period, he proposed, indeed, to visit them; but, owing to circumstances with which we are unacquainted, this was not accomplished.
long a valuable member of the church at Stockton; several of her children are members of the same church; and two of them are ministers of the gospel: one a Baptist, the other an Independent. Mr. Sheraton, as has been already mentioned, left this year; but the church continued its meetings, in different parts of Stockton; occasionally enjoying the services of a minister, whose expenses they defrayed by making, according to apostolic direction, a contribution every Lord's day.
Mr. Cratcherrode, who succeeded Mr. Hoyle, in 1801, at Newcastle, left in December, this year.
1803. - During the first half of this year the church at Newcastle had only occasional supplies ; but Mr. Thomas Berry came in June, and his labours were very acceptable ; but, as he was about to take on him the pastoral office, he was unexpectedly called away, to join the church triumphant. He died January 1, 1804.* The happiness of his mind was extraordinary. His faith in God was strong, especially in relation to his family. He often requested Mrs. Berry, while weeping over him, to give him up, as he had given her and his dear children, to the kind and tender care of his cove- nant God. But she still continued to weep over him,
* Mr. Berry preached a funeral sermon, 11th December, from the words, "What is your life?" It was little thought, by those who heard him, that his own life was so near a close. On the 18th he preached twice, for the last time, in the chapel at Tuthill-stairs. On the 22nd, at the prayer meeting, where he expounded Isaiah xl. 12 18, it was remarked, that his appearance that night was peculiarly heavenly; and, some said, more than human. He had then been seized with an inflammation in his bowels, which baffled both the skill of the physician and the power of medicine to cure. He prepared on the 23rd and 24th for the services of 25th, Lord's Day; but on the evening of the 24th, he grew worse, which increased till the first day of 1804, when his sufferings ended, and he entered into the joy of his Lord.
and to cry, "What will become of me and my five children?" He replied, "The Lord will provide! There is, however, one thing I would have you to fear. Fear sin. But if you walk close with God, you need not fear. Fear nothing then but sin." When put into a warm bath, he repeated four verses of that beautiful hymn of Watts': "With joy we meditate the grace," &c.
At one time, he said to his medical attendant, "Sir, do you love Jesus Christ? I love Him! I feel Him precious! He sweetens my bed of affliction! He brightens my prospects for eternity! I feel Him precious!"* At another time, to those around him, he said, elevating his voice, "Praise Him! Praise Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! Lord of all! I have often spoken of the boundless mercy and love of God; but now I feel it! I prove it!" To two young ministers, he said, speaking of the sufficiency of the work of Christ, "Faithfully report it, but never attempt to mend it!"
At five o'clock in the morning on which he died, he suddenly started up, and exclaimed, with rapturous emotion, mingled, it may be, with some degree of delirium, "Hark! hark! they are singing! I hear them shouting, Glory to God in the highest!" He then
* One of the deacons of the church received a guinea from this gentleman, on behalf of the family of Mr. Berry, accompanied by the affirmation that he never in his life had heen witness to such a scene, to such a Christian, such a triumphant termination of human life. The other medical attendant did the same; and neither made any charge for advice,&c. Eight hundred pounds were collected, at Newcastle and other places, for the widow and her family, which, for a certain period, was put in trust, and the interest paid. The family turned out well, and are now in respectable circumstances. There is a tablet erected to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Berry, in the Baptist chapel, Sheffield. Mrs. Sissons, the wife of one of the principal manufacturers of Sheffield, is one of their daughters.
shouted, himself, with a strong voice, "I am coming! I am coming! Open the window!!" These were his last words. He afterwards lay in a calm, quiet state, till half-past six, when he expired, without a groan, in the fortieth year of his age. He was buried heside Mr. Skinner, at the Ballast Hills hurying ground.
The association was held at Rowley in 1803. Seven persons had been added at Hamsterley; of these, however, three soon withdrew, and were excluded, and one died. Allusion is made in the letter from Hamsterley, of "peace being restored to Europe." This had taken place the year before, after a bloody war of ten years, arising out of the French Revolution, in 1789. The association, however, was hardly over, when the peace was again interrupted; and a farther dreadful European war ensued, which lasted [an]other twelve years, ending in the overthrow of Bonaparte, at Waterloo, June 18th, 1815.
1804-1806. - The association was held in 1804, at Newcastle. Two had been added at Hamsterley, but one had died, and one was dismissed to Stockton. In 1805, it was held at Hamsterley: one was added there, three had died, and one was dismissed. In 1806, it was again held at Rowley. Two were this year added to Hamsterley, the whole number now being eighty. During these years, the church at Newcastle was supplied, first by Mr. Scarlet, from Hull, and then by Mr. Hartley, who had been with them in 1791. He, however, again left in 1806, and went some time after to Stockton, with a view to renovate the drooping cause in that town; and in this, we are happy to add, he succeeded.
The period that had passed over the world, embraced in the chapter now closing, was one singularly eventful. The children of the Puritans had just terminated a war
which laid the foundation of an empire, on principles somewhat similar to those their fathers had attempted in England; but on a field of far mightier range. The flame soon extended to France, and one of the most direful tales of blood, that was ever told, commenced. Europe became one wide battle field, of tremendous slaughter; but, in the meantime, the cause of God re- ceived an impulse, the force of which is not abated at the present hour; nay, it is rather greatly augmented, verifying the truth of the prophecy, that "the wall of the city shall be built even in troublous times." In the very year of the commencement of the war, the Baptist mission was formed at Kettering, October 2nd, 1792.* In 1795, began the London Missionary Society; the Scottish Mission was formed in 1796;+ and the Church
* The Baptist mission, between 1792 and 1806, had made considerable progress. In 1799, Messrs. Marshman, Ward, and two other missionaries, with their wives, arrived in India. In 1800, Krishno, the first Hindoo convert, was baptized; and by the end of 1806, one hundred and six of European Asiatics the descendants of Europeans and Hindoos had been baptized. The Scriptures were being printed in six languages, and in a course of translation in six more, by the end of 1807. In 1799, the mission lost one of its most attached friends, Mr. Samuel Pearce, of Birmingham, October 10th, aged 33.
+ This mission was under the direction of the ministers of the church of Scotland. The scenes of labour were chiefly Astracan, in Russia, and Sierra Leone, in Africa. The operations under the Messrs. Haldane were still in progress, and churches in almost all the towns in Scotland, were formed under their auspices, on Independent principles. The labours also of the young ministers, reared by these gentlemen, were diffused through both the North of Ireland and England. A church was formed at Ford Forge, in Northumberland, and within two miles of the famous Flodden Field, under the auspices of Mr, John Black, the owner of the Forge for the manufactory of spades, &c., at this place. Mr. Alexander Kirkwood, now of Berwick, was ordained as
of England Mission in 1801. In 1804, Mr. Hughes, Baptist minister, of Battersea, suggested the idea of the Bible Society, which was immediately taken up, and acted on by all sects and parties; and in 1805, the Northern Baptist Education Society was formed, and placed under the care of the Rev. William Steadman, lately called to preside over the church at Bradford,
pastor in 1804. As the subject of Baptism had come under the examination of the newly-formed churches in Scotland, and Mr. Stephens, then co-pastor with Mr. James Haldane, of the Tabernacle church, Edinburgh, had been baptized on a profession of bis faith, the enquiry had circulated throughout the whole range of these churches, in Scotland, England, and Ireland. Among other places, this was the case at Ford Forge. Mr. Kirkwood and six or seven of the members of the church there were baptized. The others withdrew; and a new Baptist church was formed of twelve members. In 1807, Mr. Kirkwood removed to Beverley; and, in the meantime, the new church at Ford Forge, was placed under the care of Mr. John Black, Junior, and Mr William Dodds, who were set apart to the eldership by the late Mr. Archibald Maclean of Edinburgh. Another church was formed at Berwick-on-Tweed, on Independent principles, in 1803. Mr. Dunn was chosen pastor. Their number at this time was twenty-five; yet in the four following years they considerably increased; but, in 1808, about one-fourth of the society changed their views on Baptism, and Mr. Dunn removed to the church at Dumfries, where he ended his days. The church then invited Mr. Kirkwood, who had often preached to them before, to leave Beverley, and take the charge of them. He did so; and the cause continued to prosper. We have already noticed, in connexion with the rise of the Scotch Baptists, that there were some persons at Wooler, in Northumberland, that joined them; and Mr. Grieve, the Presbyterian minister there, had been baptized, joined the church at Edinburgh, and devoted himself to the study and practice of medicine. In 1801, the church at Wooler was set in order by Mr. Maclean, and Mr. William Pattison and Mr. Robert Law were ordaiued elders. We shall advert hereafter to these churches.
Yorkshire, formerly under the care of Mr. Crabtree.* The fruits of this valuable institution, soon began to be seen throughout the kingdom, but particularly in the North of England. This will be evident more fully in the succeeding pages of our narrative.
* In Yorkshire, we find the following churches had come into existence, from 1785. Driffield, in the East Riding, in 1787: first pastor, Mr. Wrightson. First church, Sheffield, in 1788, and Mr. Downs became first pastor, in 1804. Blackley, in 1789: Mr. Oartledge, first minister. Rotherham, in 1789: Mr. Dickenson, first pastor. George-street, Hull, in 1794: Mr. Pendered, their first pastor, who baptized Mr. Ward, of Serampore, in 1796. Lockwood, in 1795: first minister, Mr. Hartley. Wigan, in Lancashire, in 1796: Mr. Wrathal, became their pastor, in 1803. Hedon, in 1800, preaching began, church formed in 1825: Mr. Harper, first pastor. Horseforth, in 1801: first minister, Mr. Mabbut. Richforth, in 1803: first minister, Mr. Roebuck. Hunmanby, in 1806: Mr. Hithersay, first pastor, in 1816. Manchester, in 1807: Mr. Stephens, first minister, in 1811.
[From David Douglas, A Brief History of the Baptist Churches in the North of England, From 1648 to 1845, via INTERNET ARCHIVE. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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