To The Venerable and Reverend David Benedict, D.D., of Pawtucket, Rhode Island
THE LABORIOUS AND SELF-SACRIFICING HISTORIAN OF THE BAPTISTS OF AMERICA,
whole earlier writings were the studies of my youthful days, and whole friendship in later life is most highly cherished, this brief sketch of the Oldest Baptist Church in Pennsylvania, is respectfully dedicated, in token of admiration for his many virtues and his great historical acquirement!,
By his friend, THE AUTHOR.
This brief historical Sketch of the Lower Dublin Baptist Church was prepared, several years since, at the special request of the Church, by which I was furnished with their ancient records. It was designed, at the time, for publication in the Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, and hence was more of a sketch than a history. When desired to edit the August number of The Historical Magazine, by Mr. Henry B. Dawson, I availed myself of the opportunity thus presented to give to the public the sketch referred to, with considerable corrections and additions. I regret that want of time has prevented a fuller and more complete history of this venerable Church of God... - H.G.J.
Philadelphia, July, 1869.
I. Sketch of the Church - 1
II. Biographical Sketches of the Pastors - 18
III. Licentiates - 35
IV. Ruling Elders - 36
V. Deacons - 37
VI. Additions to the Church by Baptism and total membership in each year - 38
I. - A SKETCH OF THE CHURCH
The religious Freedom which William Penn, the Founder of Pennsylvania, proclaimed as one of the organic Laws of his Colony, attracted, at the very outset, from Great Britain and also from the Continent - chiefly from Germany - persons of every religious faith. They were assured, from the well-known character of that disinterested philanthropist, who had been imprisoned for his adhesion to the doctrines of the Quakers, that they would find in his Colony protection from all persecution. Hence, we find Quakers and Church-men, Baptists and Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics, and even the strange ascetic Pietists of Germany, among the earliest settlers of Pennsylvania, and all living together in harmony.
This same plan had been tested nearly half a century before, by Roger Williams, in his Colony of Rhode Island, under far more disadvantageous circumstances, and where he had advocated the grand doctrine of "soul-liberty," at a time when such a principle was regarded as one of the worst forms of heresy, and the maintenance of which was one cause of his expulsion by the authorities of Massachusetts.
Both Williams and Penn had been sorely persecuted
for conscience sake; and both were, therefore, the better able to appreciate the importance of allowing every one to think and act as he thought right in matters relating to religious concerns. Penn, at the beginning of his legislation in Pennsylvania, had passed by the Assembly, the "Great Law," the first Section of which had regard to religious matters; and, among other things, provided that no person then or thereafter living in the Province, shall"at any time be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place, or ministry, whatever, contrary to his or her mind, but shall freely and fully enjoy his or her Christian liberty in that respect, without any interruption or reflection; and, if any person shall abuse or deride any other for his or her different persuasion and practice, in matter of religion, such shall be looked upon as a disturber of the peace, and be punished accordingly."*It is creditable to both of these noble men - living at the time they did when religious persecution seemed to be the very essence of orthodoxy in most Churches, that although entrusted, in the organization of their Colonies, with vast powers, they incorporated in their Charters the doctrine of Religious Freedom, and never permitted any of their fellow-colonists to suffer for their religious tenets.
This principle, for which Williams, in New England, and Penn, in Great Britain and Pennsylvania, contended so nobly, has at last become universal in this country, and one of its features is incorporated in the Constitution of the United States.
Let the names of these men, who were once
* Janney's Life of Penn, 211.
despised as heretics and fanatics, he written in letters of gold, for their noble advocacy of a doctrine which is now so dear to every citizen of our great Republic.
The first Baptist clergyman in Pennsylvania of whom there is any account was the Rev. Thomas Dungan, who settled at a place called Cold Spring, between Bristol and Trenton, in Bucks County. The Rev. Morgan Edwards says,*"Of this venerable father I can learn no more than that he came from Rhode Island about the year 1684; that he and his family settled at Cold Spring, where he gathered a Church, of which nothing remains [in 1770] but a grave-yard and the names of the families which belonged to it, viz, the Dungam, Gardners, Woods, Doyls, &c; that he died in 1688, and was buried in said grave-yard."This small Church disbanded in the year 1702; and its members either moved to other places or became connected with the Church whose history is now to be sketched.
The Lower Dublin, or Pennepek, Baptist Church - the first permanent Church of that faith in Pennsylvania, is situate in what was formerly the Township of Lower Dublin, now forming part of the Twenty-third Ward of the City of Philadelphia, about eleven miles North-westwardly from Independence Hall. At first it was called the Pemmepeka+, Pennepek, or Pennypack Church, from a small stream of water bearing that name, which runs near the Meeting-house; and it was so designated in the Minutes
* History of American Baptists, 1, 10, Note.
+ This is an Indian word, and, according: to Heckewelder, in the language of the Lenni Lenape, or Delawares, signifies "A pond, lake or bay; water not having a current." Bulletin Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Volume, i. No. ll, p. 122.
of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, until the year 1794.
This Church may be regarded as the mother Church of the Baptists in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland, as its early Pastors were accustomed to preach the Gospel in all of these Colonies; and hence its early history is of more than ordinary interest. The Records have been carefully preserved, and are contained in a large folio volume, which is still used for the purpose of keeping the Minutes of the Church-meetings. The Records state that"By the good Providence of God, there came certain persons out of Radnorshire in Wales, over into this Province of Pennsylvania, and settled in the Township of Dublin, in the County of Philadelphia, viz: John Eatton, George Eatton and Jane, his wife, Samuel Jones, and Sarah Eatton, who had all been Baptized upon Confession of Faith and Received into the Communion of the Church of Christ meeting in the Parishes of Llandewi and Nantmel, in Radnorshire, Henry Gregory being Chief pastor. Also John Baker who had been Baptized and a member of a congregation of Baptized believers in Kilkenny, in Ireland, Christopher Blackwell, pastor, was by the providence of God settled in the Township aforesaid.These parties were settled in Lower Dublin, as early as 1687. The previous year, Elias Keach, a son of the famous London divine, the Rev. Benjamin Keach, an eminent author among the
"In the year 1687 there came one Samuel Vaus out of England, and settled near the aforesaid Township and went under the Denomination of a Baptist and was so taken to be."
English Baptists, came to America. He was a gay, wild, thoughtless young man; and was converted in a most extraordinary manner.
Morgan Edwards gives the following account of Mr. Keach:"On his landing he dressed in black, and wore a band in order to pass for a Minister. The project succeeded to his wishes, and many people resorted to hear the young London divine. He performed well enough till he had advanced pretty far in the sermon. Then, stopping short, he looked like a man astonished. The audience concluded he had been seized with a sudden disorder; but, on asking what the matter was, received from him a confession of the imposture with tears in his eyes, and much trembling. Great was his distress, though it ended happily; for from this time he dated his conversion. He heard there was a Baptist Minister at Cold Spring, in Bucks County, to whom he repaired to seek counsel and comfort, and by him was baptized."*Mr. Keach at once devoted himself to preaching the Gospel; and, in 1687, visited the region of Pennepek, and preached as opportunity offered. His labors were greatly blessed; and on the twenty-first of November, 1687, he baptized four persons, viz: Joseph Ashton and Jane Ashton, his wife, William Fisher, and John Watts. These, so far as is known, were the first persons ever baptized in Lower Dublin Township.
In the month of January, 1687, the following persons organized themselves into the Pennepek Baptist Church, viz: Rev. Elias Keach, John Eaton, George Baton and Jane; his wife, Sarah
* Edwards's History of American Baptists, i, 9-10.
Eaton, Samuel Jones, John Baker, Samuel Vaus, Joseph Ashton and Jane, his wife, William Fisher, and John Watts.
The church book gives the following account of its constitution:"Sometime after, about the llth month, [January, 1687] by the advice of Elias Keach and with the aforesaid Baptized persons consent, a day was set apart to seek God by fasting and prayer, in order to form ourselves into a Church state. Whereupon Elias Keach was accepted and received for our Pastor and we sat down in communion at the Lord's table. Also at the same time Samuel Vaus was chosen and by Elias Keach with laying on of hands, ordained to be a Deacon."Such was the founding of what may properly be regarded as the first Baptist Church in Pennsylvania. There was no pomp or ceremony; there were no white-robed priests; no letters permissory from Archbishop or other prelate. There was only the plain apostolic giving of themselves to each other and the Lord. And the little band of disciples, thus organized as a Christian Church, has continued to prosper and increase, and for a period of one hundred and eighty-one years has maintained an active and visible existence.
Mr. Keach, with that earnest zeal which characterized most of the early Baptist Ministers, travelled extensively and preached at the Falls of the Delaware, (Trenton), Philadelphia, Chester, Burlington, Middletown, Cohansey, Salem and other places, baptizing such as gave evidence of true piety. These, with such other Baptists as he found among the new emigrants, joined the Pennepek Church, so that, at one
time, all the Baptists of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, were regarded as general members of this Church.
For the convenience of the brethren residing in the places named, the Church appointed "General Meetings," so that opportunity was offered for closer acquaintance, communion, and fellowship. In regard to this practice, the Records state, as follows:"But however when Elias Keach was with us, we commonly acted as a particular Church, and at the general meetings all the Brethren from all parts of the Provinces, were desired generally to come together to hear the word &c and to communicate at the Lord's Table. These general meetings were appointed twice in the year; once in the spring, about the 3d month, [May], and one time in the fall, about the 8th month". [October]. In the Spring at Salem and in the fall at Dublin or Burlington. But it is to be noted that in these times of beginning, we had not opportunity to be formed into particular Churches, for want of persons fitly qualified to oversee a Church or to carry on the work of the ministry."It would seem that at these General Meetings, even when held out of Pennsylvania, ordinary Church business was transacted, for, at Salem, New Jersey, in May, 1688, Joseph Ashton was chosen a Deacon of the Church at Pennepek, and was ordained there, by Elias Keach, with laying on of hands.
Mr. Edwards remarks,"They were all one Church and Pennepek the centre of union, where as many as could, met to celebrate the memorials of Christ's death; and for the sake of distant members, they administered the ordinance quarterly at Burlington, Cohansey,
Salem and Philadelphia; which quarterly meetings have since transformed into three yearly meetings and an Association."*
As the number of baptized believers increased in places at a distance from Pennepek, it was considered best to form separate Churches; and, hence, in New Jersey, the following were constituted, viz: Middletown, in the Winter of 1688; Piscataqua, in the Spring of 1689; and Cohansey, in the Spring of 1690; while, in the City of Philadelphia, no attempt was made by the few Baptists there, to form a Church until the second Sunday in December, in 1698, when four persons who had been baptized, in 1697, by John Watts, and five others - among them the famous John Holme, Esq. - who had been baptized in Great Britain, met in a house on Barbadoes Lot, at the North-west corner of Second and Chestnut-streets, and, in the words of Edwards, "did coalesce into a Church for the communion of Saints, having Rev. John Watts to their assistance."
It seems, however, from the Pennepek Church Book, that in the Spring of 1688, Elias Keach held several meetings and preached several sermons in Philadelphia; but as no mention is made of his having baptized, it is reasonable to suppose that the first baptism was by John Watts.
As Elias Keach was at fust the only Baptist Minister in Pennsylvania, the brethren at Pennepek were often left without any preacher, as Mr. Keach was compelled to visit the numerous branches of the Church, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In such emergencies, the Church held meetings for prayer and exhortation, then,
* History of American Baptists, i, 8.
as now, called "meetings for conference." Originating as they did in Pennsylvania with the Church at Pennepek, it may not be uninteresting to give the following account of their commencement, as detailed in the Church Records, viz:"About the same time, that every Brother might have opportunity to exercise what Gifts God had been pleased to bestow upon them, for the edification of one another, with the advice and consent of our said pastor, we appointed meetings for Conference, to beheld on the fifth days of the week in which this order was observed. First, That at one meeting, sometimes one Brother and then another and so round, used to make choice of some place of holy scripture as they pleased, to be conferred upon the next time, which in the meanwhile was left to consideration. Secondly, When the appointed time came, the Brethren being assembled, the usual custom observed was, for one Brother and then another to begin with prayer and then to deliver their judgment on the text appointed and our Pastor concluded. The Brethren who used most commonly and constantly to speak at these meetings were Samuel Jones and John Watts."These exercises had the effect to bring forward such brethren as possessed gifts for prayer and exhortation, and to them the Church was accustomed to look for assistance, when Mr. Keach was absent, which, as stated, was often the case. On one occasion during his absence, the Church formally agreed that John Watts should administer the ordinance of baptism, which he accordingly did; but the candidate was not received into the Church, and soon after she became a Quaker. The administration of the
Lord's Supper was however left to Mr. Keach, as his proper work.
In the year 1689, difficulties having occurred about Laying on of hands in the reception of members after baptism, Predestination, and other matters, the pastorate of Mr. Keach was brought to a close; and John Watts was chosen in his stead, being assisted by Samuel Jones, Evan Morgan and Thomas Wood, thus following, as will be observed, the custom which obtained in the apostolic times.
It seemed to be a common event, in those days of primitive simplicity, to have in the Pennepek Church, a number of gifted brethren on trial, so that the Church was seldom at a loss for a Pastor. Meetings in the week were also regularly kept up; and these "gifted brethren" were accustomed to officiate on such occasions.
Thus this little baud of disciples continued to prosper; and, in the year 1700, their number, had increased to forty-six.
Among them, as in Churches at the present day, were some troublesome and perverse spirits, tinctured with peculiar views about Gospel truth. The chief one at Pennepek, was a certain William Davis, who at first was a Quaker preacher, then a Keithian, and finally a Baptist. He held Sabellian views, which he endeavored to inculcate; but the Church, after several admonitions, were compelled to exclude him. He afterwards became a Seventh-day Baptist. To counteract the errors of Davis, and also other heresies, and to instruct the children of the members in the true Faith, John Watts was requested by the Church to prepare a Catechism, "such a one as might "also be of use for a Confession of our faith." This he did, and it was published in the year 1700.
The Church, at first, was wont to meet at the houses of different members; but, about the year 1707, a house of worship was erected on a lot near the Burial-ground, the gift of Samuel Jones, one of the early Pastors. In subsequent years, additional land was presented to the Church, and some was bought, so that now there is a line glebe attached to the building, on which sheds are erected for the accommodation of those driving to Church. There is also a grove of noble oak-trees, affording delightful shade in Summer. The Meeting-house is situated in the enclosure devoted to the Burial-ground; and is separated from the grove by a public road.
The first Meeting-house was twenty-five feet square; but, in 1760, it was repaired, and, in 1770, there was a neat stone building erected, thirty-three feet by thirty, with pews, galleries, and a stove, which latter accommodation was not to be found in all the early Meeting-houses. The present edifice was built in 1805.
The Faith of this ancient Church has always been that of the New Testament, as set forth in the "Philadelphia Confession," which was adopted by the Association, in 1742.
For some years, the ancient rite of Confirmation, or the Laying on of hands on newly baptized members, on being received into the Church, was practised; but it was afterwards regarded as a matter of indifference, and hence was discontinued. This question of "Laying on of hands" occasioned sharp disputes between them and a Welsh emigrant Church, which came from Wales, in 1701, and settled near Pennepek. The Welshmen insisted on the rite as of great importance; but finding they were opposed, in 1703, the major part of them purchased
a tract of land in Newcastle-county, Delaware, whither they removed and settled - and named the place "Welsh Tract." The Church assumed the name, and is still known as u The Welsh "Tract Baptist Church."
Pennepek Church also had, for many years, Ruling Elders - a species of officers which most of the early Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware had among them, as the early records show.
The Minutes of the Church contain the following action on the subject of Ruling Elders:"1715. June 19th. A proposal was made for having Ruling Elders in ye [the] Church; left to consideration till next Quarterly Meeting."When this office was discontinued does not appear; but it is certain that it was not used in 1770. The latest mention of such is in a manuscript List of Members, for 1763, when William Marshall is named as the Ruling Elder.
"1726. June 17th. At same time ye Church called forth brother John Holme to take upon him the office of a ruling elder, to which he answered he thought himself not fitly qualified for a place of charge and weight yt ye place did require.
"1747. June 18. Bro. Vansandt was called to the office of Ruling Elder by prayer and laying on of hands."
As a mother Church, numerous branches have sprung from Pennepek, and maintain, even to the present day, in their ecclesiastical relations, an active and prominent position. Among these were those of Middletown, Piscataqua, Cohansey, Burlington, and Salem, in New Jersey; and Philadelphia, Montgomery, Southampton, Brandywine, Frankford, and Holmesburg, in Pennsylvania.
As is well-known. The Philadelphia Baptist Association originated under the auspices of this Church; and to its Records we are chiefly indebted for a knowledge of the date of the organization of the Association. The "Yearly Meetings," which were held with the different Churches, were chiefly for preaching - answering to the "protracted meetings" or "convocations" of the present day. They did not consist of Delegates or Messengers from particular Churches, but all who had leisure and were so inclined gathered together and spent several days in acts of religious worship. The brethren were thus made acquainted with each other; the spirit of piety was increased; the ungodly were often converted; and fraternal intercourse was greatly promoted. As the Churches increased in number, and also in membership, various questions arose both as to matters of Faith and Discipline. It was of course desirable for all the Churches to have the same Rules and to act in unity; and yet each Baptist Church being independent of all others, it was apparent to the Pastors and Brethren, that some general meeting was necessary where such questions could be freely and amicably discussed, and where counsel and advice could be given. Hence, it was proposed to associate, once a year, for this purpose, by representatives from the several Churches. This annual meeting was therefore designated by the name of an "Association;" but it had no power or authority to bind the Churches composing it, and from the very first was regarded as an Advisory Council - and such is the character of all the Baptist Associations in America, as well as in all other parts of the world.
The Church Records of Pennepek contain
the following items concerning the formation of the Philadelphia Association, which are deemed of sufficient importance to form part of this sketch."1706. At our yearly meeting held at Philadelphia the 21, 22 and 23d days of September, it was agreed by our brethren from Middleton, in East Jersey and us, that there should be a meeting held yearly for as many of us as could meet those with them at Middleton, with them that could come there from other parts, to be held on the third Lord's day in May.The Churches thus uniting in an Association - the first formed in America - were the Pennepek; in Pennsylvania, the Welsh Tract, in Delaware, the Middletown, Piscataqua and Cohansey in New Jersey.
"1707. Before our generall meeting held at Philadelphia in the 7th month [September] 1707, it was concluded by the severall congregations of our Judgment, to make choyse of some particular Brethren such as they thought most capable in every congregation & those to meet at the yearly Meeting, to consult about such things as were wanting in the Church and set them in order, and those brethren met at the said yearly meeting which begun the 27th of the 7th month, on the 7th day of the week, agreed that the said meeting should be continued till the third day of the week, in the work of the publick ministry and by "whom the publiek ministry of the word should be carried on."
Prom that day until the present time, the Pennepek, or Lower Dublin, Church has been a member of the Philadelphia Association, except during a period of fourteen years. Alter a connection of one hundred and twenty years, on
the twenty-ninth of October, 1827, she withdrew from the Association, and for five years remained unassociated; but, in 1832, she formed one of the constituents of The "Central Union Association," which was organized in the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, on the thirty-first of July, in that year. On the fourth of October, 1841, she withdrew from that body and united again with the Philadelphia Association, and is at the present time, the only one of the original Churches connected with the Association.
The increase in membership by baptism was at first very gradual. Prior to the year 1800, the highest number baptized in one year, judging from the records, was six.
From 1798 to 1804 - a period of six years - there were no baptisms, but the services of the sanctuary were faithfully kept up under the pastoral care of Dr. Samuel Jones. In the latter year, a glorious work of grace manifested itself and a revival commenced, continuing until the venerable man of God was removed from the Church militant to the Church triumphant. In 1804, twenty-two were baptized; in 1805, twenty-four; in 1806, ten; in 1807, seventeen; in 1808, twenty-five; and in 1812, seventeen. This precious ingathering of souls seemed a fitting close to the faithful and laborious pastorate of over half a century.
The whole number baptized from 1762, when the Minutes begin to give the numbers, to 1800, a period of thirty-eight years, was sixty-three; and the membership had increased from fifty to seventy-five; while during the next thirteen years, the number baptized was one hundred and twenty-eight, and the membership had increased to one hundred and twenty eight. The largest number baptized in any one year was
ninety, in 1850, during the pastorate of Rev. Richard Lewis; and the next largest number was seventy-eight, during the pastorate of Rev. Alfred Harris. The greatest number received during any one pastorate was one hundred and fifty-six, during the seven years' pastorate of the Rev. James M. Challiss.
The total number baptized into the fellowship of this Church cannot be ascertained, but it must be over eleven hundred. Of these, seventeen were baptized by Elias Keach; twenty-seven by John Watts; twenty-nine by Abel Morgan; ninety-two by Jenkin Jones; one hundred and thirty-eight by Dr. Samuel Jones; twenty- eight by Jacob Gregg; one hundred and twenty-eight by David Jones, Jr.; one hundred and fifty-six by James M. Challiss; one hundred and twelve by Richard Lewis; and eighty-nine by Alfred Harris.
The present Pastor (Rev. William E. Cornwell) has baptized about seventy persons.
It will thus be seen that this ancient Church, during the present century, has experienced an almost continuous experience of the Divine favor.
During her long existence as a visible Church, she has had but nineteen Pastors, and in her earlier history, she had two or three Ministers at the same time, who labored together in word and doctrine as occasion offered. This arose from the fact that the "gifted brethren" were brought forward at the "Conference meetings." John Watts, Evan Morgan, Samuel Jones and Joseph Wood, were four brethren whose "gifts" were thus exercised, and who were ordained to the work of the ministry, and in turn were the Pastors of the Church. Eight of her Pastors were native born Welshmen; and for many
years, Pennepek was the point to which the Welsh emigrants were accustomed to direct their steps, on their arrival in America.
As a Church, she has done much for the cause of Education; and one of her Pastors, the Rev. Samuel Jones, D.D., for many years kept a private school where young men were taught Theology. The name of Pennepek, or Lower Dublin, was known throughout the length and breadth of the land as the focus of Baptist influence. Twenty-two persons have been sent forth by this Church to preach the Gospel. The present membership of the Church is over two hundred and fifty. There are now in Philadelphia, forty Baptist Churches, with about fourteen thousand members, and in the entire State of Pennsylvania there are four hundred and fifty Churches, with fifty thousand, four hundred, and ninety-seven communicant members.
II. - BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE PASTORS OF THE LOWER DUBLIN BAPTIST CHURCH.
I. - The founder and first Pastor was the Rev. ELIAS KEACH. He was born in Southwark, London, in the year 1666; and was the son of the famous BENJAMIN KEACH. Pastor of the Baptist Church, in Horsely-down. Of his early education we have no information, but it was no doubt liberal, as his father was a learned man. Like many young men of that day, Elias started off to see the world; and, in 1686, he arrived at Philadelphia, which had been founded four years. He was a wild, giddy fellow, and passed himself off for a Minister, dressing in black and wearing a band. Morgan Edwards, who relates the story, says that the project succeeded; and many people resorted to hear the young London Divine. In the middle of his sermon he suddenly stopped, as if attacked with illness; and, upon inquiry by the audience, he burst into tears and confessed with trembling that he was an imposter. Prom that hour he dated his conversion; and learning that there was a Baptist Minister at Cold Spring, in Bucks-county, named Thomas Dungan, he at once repaired to him for counsel and advice, and in due time was baptized by him.
The following year, we find him at Pennepek; and, in January, 1688, he was one of the constituents of the Pennepek Church, becoming its Pastor, and continuing in that relation until 1689, when the pastoral relation was dissolved. He travelled extensively in Jersey and Pennsylvania, preaching the Gospel, until 1692, when
he returned to England, and was not only a popular, but a very useful, Minister. He became Pastor of a Church, which he was instrumental in gathering, in Ayles-street, Goodman's-fields, London, in April, 1693; and so successful was he, that in February, 1694, he wrote to Rev. John Watts, that in nine months he had baptized about one hundred and thirty persons. He remained the Pastor of that Church until the twenty-seventh of October,1699, when he died, after a brief illness, in the thirty-fourth year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Nathaniel Wyles, and is entitled, Death's Arrest, the Saint's Release.
Mr. Keach wrote and published several works. First: Four Sermons preached prior to 1694, in Pinner's Hall. Second: A Confession of Faith, Church Covenant, Discipline, &C. Third: Two Sermons on The Nature and Excellency of the Grace of Patience.
While in Pennsylvania, Mr. Keach married Mary Moore, a daughter of the Hon. Nicholas Moore, who was Chief-justice of Pennsylvania, and after whom the Manor of Moreland was named, he being the owner of that tract of land. They had an only daughter, Hannah, who married Revitt Harrison, of England, and had a son, John Elias Keach Harrison, who came to America about the year 1734, and lived at Hatborough, and was a member of the Baptist Church of Southampton, in Bucks-county, Pennsylvania.
The widow of Judge Moore subsequently became the wife of John Holme, Esq., then of Philadelphia, but afterwards of Salem, N. J.
II. - Rev. John Watts, the second Pastor, was born on the third of November, 1661, at Lydd or Leeds, in the County of Kent, England, and
came to America about the year 1686. He was baptized at Pennepek, on the twenty-first of November, 1687, by Mr. Keach; and was one of the first four converts at that place, and a constituent of the Church. He early gave evidence of decided talents; and the same year the Church was organized, he was called to the ministry. His labors proved so acceptable, that when Mr. Keach resigned, Mr. Watts was chosen Pastor. He was assisted in his duties by Messrs. Evan Morgan, Samuel Jones, and Joseph Wood - the latter brethren officiating when Mr. Watts was called to other places.
Mr. Watts was a sound Divine, and a man of some learning. He wrote a book, called Davis Disabled, in reply to the heresies of a person named William Davis, who had been a member of Pennepek. This work was never printed. He also wrote a Catechism and Confession of Faith, which was printed in 1700.
The pastorate of Mr. Watts continued from the tenth of December, 1690, to the twenty-sev- enth of August, 1702, when he died, in the forty-first year of his age. He was buried in the grave-yard in the rear of the Meeting-house; and his tombstone has on it the following acrostical inscription:"Intered here I beIII - The Rev. Evan Morgan, the third Pastor, was born in Wales, and came to America at an early period. He was a Quaker, but left with George Keith's party, in 1691. He was baptized, in 1697, by Thomas Rutter, a Keithian
O that you could now see,
How unto Jesus for to flee
Not in sin still to be.
Warning in time pray take
And peace by Jesus make
Then at the last when you awake
Sure on his right hand you'l partake.
Baptist Minister, at Southampton, Bucks-county; and, the same year, renouncing his Quakerism, he was received into Pennepek. He was called to the ministry in 1702, and was ordained, on the twenty-third of October, 1706, by Rev. Thomas Killingworth and Rev. Thomas Griffiths.
Mr. Morgan died on the sixteenth of February, 1709, and was buried at Pennepek. He was a smart, intelligent man.
IV. - The Rev. Samuel Jones, the fourth Pastor, was born on the ninth of July, 1657, in the parish of Llanddwi, and County of Radnor, Wales, and came to America about 1686. He was baptized, in Wales, in the year 1683, by Henry Gregory, of Radnorshire; and was a constituent of the Pennepek Church. He was called to the ministry in 1697; and was ordained on the twenty-third of October, 1706, at the same time Evan Morgan was, with whom he had joint charge of the Church.
Mr. Jones died on the third of February, 1722; and is buried at Pennepek.
The ground on which the Meeting-house stands was given by him; and he also gave to the Church a number of valuable books.
V. - The Rev. Joseph Wood, the fifth Pastor, was born in 1659, near Hull, in Yorkshire, England, and came to America about the year 1684. He was baptized by Mr. Keach, at Burlington, New Jersey, on the twenty-fourth of June, 1691, and was ordained on the twenty-fifth of September, 1708, at which time he assisted Messrs. Morgan and Jones in the ministry. He died on the fifteenth of September, 1747, and was buried at Cold Spring, Bucks-county.
VI. - The Rev. Abel Morgan, the sixth Pastor, was born in the year 1673, at Alltgoeh, in the parish of Llanwenog, Cardiganshire, South Wales, and entered on the ministry in the year 1692. He commenced preaching at the age of nineteen; and was ordained at Blaenegwent, in Monmouthshire. Enoch Morgan, the third Pastor of the Welch Tract Church, was his younger brother; and Benjamin Griffith, of Montgomery, was his half brother. They were all descended from Morgan Ap Ryddarch.
He came to America in 1711, reaching Philadelpia on the fourteenth of February, and was called lo the care of Pennepek Church, preaching alternately there and at Philadelphia, with great acceptance.
In addition to his duties as a Minister, he gave himself to the work of an author; and prepared, in the Welch Language, A Concordance of the Holy Scriptures. He did not, however, live to see it published; but it was printed in 1730, and contains an Introduction by his brother, Enoch. Mr. Morgan also prepared a Welsh Confession of Faith, which was published. He died on the sixteenth of December, 1722, at the age of forty-nine years. His remains are interred now in the lot of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, in Mount Moriah Cemetery.
VII. - The Rev. Jenkin Jones, the seventh Pastor, was born about the year 1686, in the Parish of Llandydoch, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and came to America in 1710. He became Pastor of the Pennepek Church, on the seventeenth of June 1726; but resided in Philadelphia, and officiated for the Church there, which was styled a branch of Pennepek. He hail William Kinnersley as one of his assistants, and also Joseph Wood, who aided as well as he could. Mr. Kinnersley was born near Leominster, in Herefordshire,
England, in 1669; and came to America, mi the twelfth of September, 1714. He was never ordained. He died on the thirteenth of February, 1734; and is buried at Pennepek. His son, Ebenezer Kinnersley, was baptized at Pennepek, and became a Minister; but was more distinguished as a Professor in the College of Philadelphia, and for his attainments as a philosopher, having made, in connection with Dr. Franklin, many important discoveries in Electricity.
Mr. Jones continued to be Pastor until the third of May, 1746, when he was dismissed to become one of the constituents of the Philadelphia Church, which was organized on the fifteenth of May, 1740. He became their first Pastor after their separate organization, and continued such until the sixteenth of July 1700, when he died at the age of sixty years. His remains now repose in the Mount Moriah Cemetery. He was a man of considerable abilities, and was the chief cause of having the law of Pennsylvania altered so as to enable dissenting Ministers to perform the marriage ceremony. He was, besides, a generous man, leaving to the Church a legacy towards buying a silver cup for the Lord's table; and having also, partly at his own cost, built a Parsonage-house.
VIII. - The Rev. Peter Peterson Vanhorne, the eighth Pastor, was born on the twenty-fourth of August, 1719, at Middletown, Bucks-county, Pennsylvania; and was bred a Lutheran. Having embraced the principles of the Baptists, he was baptized on the sixth of September, 1741; and having been called to the ministry, he was ordained, on the eighteenth of June, 1747. He became Pastor, on the thirty-first of October, 1747; and continued to labor with acceptance
until the seventh of February, 1762, when he resigned; and on the twenty-third of June, 1764, he formed one of the constituent members of the Baptist Church at New Mills, now Pemberton, in Burlington-county, New Jersey; and became its first Pastor. He continued such until the second of April, 1768, when he resigned, and returned to Lower Dublin, Pennsylvania. On the seventh of April, 1770, he was chosen Pastor of the Cape May-church, but resigned in 1775.
In the year 1785, he became Pastor of the Salem Church, Salem-county, New Jersey; and continued in the pastorate until the tenth of September, 1789, when he died in the seventy-first year of his age.
IX. - The Rev. Samuel Jones, D.D., the ninth Pastor, was born at Cefen y Gelli, Bettus Parish, Glamorganshire, South Wales, on the fourteenth of January, 1735, and was brought to America by his parents, in 1737.
His father, Rev. Thomas Jones, was ordained, in 1740, as Pastor of the Church at Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania. Samuel received a liberal education at the College of Philadelphia; and obtained the Master's Decree, on the eighteenth of May, 1762. He at once gave himself to the work of the ministry; and on the eighth of January. 1763, he was ordained at the College Hall, at the instance of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, of which he was a member. The same year, he became Pastor of the united Churches of Pennepek and Southampton; but, in 1770, he resigned the care of the latter and devoted himself entirely to Pennepek; and continued to occupy that position until his death - a period altogether of fifty-one years.
Dr. Jones was deservedly honored and esteemed
by all the Churches of our faith in the country. His learning gave him a prominent position; and his counsel was sought, not only in the Association, but elsewhere. When Rhode Island College was projected, he repaired to Newport and aided in the preparation of the Charter; and when Dr. Manning died, the Presidency of the College was offered to him; but he declined it. With the work of the ministry he connected that of a teacher of young men in Theology; and was equally distinguished in both capacities. His Academy was located on his farm, near the Church ; and he sent forth many young men who became distinguished preachers of the Gospel.
Dr. Jones was the author of several small works; but, besides his Circular Letters, none were printed, except a Sermon, called The Doctrine of the Covenant, preached in 1783; A Century Sermon, preached in October, 1807, before the Association; and a small handbill, on Laying on of hands, which was replied to by Rev. David Jones, of the Great Valley Church.
Dr. Jones was honored with degrees from several Colleges. In 1769, Rhode Island College conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts; and, in 1788, the University of Pennsylvania that of Doctor of Divinity.
He died at Lower Dublin, on the seventh of February, 1814, in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried in the rear of the Church.
X. - Jacob Grigg, the tenth Pastor, was born in England, and came to America in the early part of the present century. When very young, he professed religion, united with a Baptist Church in England, and commenced to preach. Soon after, he entered the Bristol Academy and there prosecuted a limited course of study; and
left to accept an appointment, as a Missionary to Sierra Leone, Africa; but soon afterwards resigned and settled in America.
He first preached at Norfolk, Virginia, and at Portsmouth, and Upper Bridge. In a few years, lie removed to Kentucky and became Pastor of a Church; but he soon left and went to Ohio. In 1808 or 1809, he returned to Virginia and opened a school in Richmond; and preached either in the vicinity of that city or for the First Church.
In December, 1815, he became Pastor of the Lower Dublin Church, and continued such until the first of September, 1817. He then, for about eighteen months, was Pastor of the new Market-street Church, in Philadelphia. Subsequently, he returned to Virginia; and was employed either in teaching or preaching as an itinerant. He died in Sussex-county, Virginia, after a few days' illness, in 1836. He possessed extraordinary powers of mind, and a most tenacious memory. As an evidence of the retentiveness of his memory, it is said that while on the ocean, after leaving his native land, he committed to memory the Old and New Testaments and the whole of Watts' Psalms.
XI. - The Rev. Joshua P. Slack, the eleventh Pastor, became such, on the first of September, 1817, and remained until October, 1821. He was a student at Dr. Staughton's Theological School, in Philadelphia. He died at Cincinnati, Ohio, on the nineteenth of August, 1822. Nothing of his early history is known.
In the private Diary of Rev. David Jones, his successor, there is the following reference to his death, under date of the first of September, 1822:"This morning, after service, I announced to the people the unwelcome intelligence of
the decease of Brother Joshua P. Slack, my predecessor in the ministry here. It was a greal stroke to them generally, as they had not heard anything of his sickness. He died at Cincinnati, Ohio, on the nineteenth of August."XII. - The Rev. David Jones, Jr., the twelfth Pastor, was born at Brachodnant, in the Parish of Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire, North Wales, April, 1785; and, in 1803, came to America. In early life, he lost both parents, and was placed under the care of aunts, whose indulgence had well nigh proved his ruin. He first settled on the Big Miami River, Ohio, being in the employ of a Mr. Hughes, who had brought him to America. He was then a Paedo-baptist; but removing to Columbus, where there was a Baptist Church under the care of Rev. William Jones, he became, an attendant there. Thinking that he might be called upon to defend his views, he studied Dr. Lewis's Body of Divinity, in Welsh; but was soon convinced that his sprinkling was not Baptism; and, ere long, he was baptized by the Pastor of the Columbia Church. Having exercised his gifts, he was soon licensed by the Duck-creek Church; and then he became Pastor of the Beaver-creek Church, and at the same time taught a small school. In 1810, he resigned his pastorate; traveled extensively through several States; and, in October, attended the Philadelphia Association and visited Lower Dublin, the residence of Dr. Samuel Jones, under whom he studied Theology; and at the same time united with his Church. He then supplied the Church at Frankford; and, in 1813, became its Pastor, and so continued until 1814.
In January, 1814, he was called to the First Church, at Newark, New Jersey; and he remained
there eight years. On the first of January, 1822, he became Pastor of the Lower Dublin Church, and sustained that position until his death, which took place on the ninth of April, 1833, at the age of forty-eight years.
Mr. Jones was the "David" in a small work on Baptism, entitled Letters of David and John. "John" was the Rev. John L. Dagg, D.D., then of Philadelphia, but now of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Mr. Jones was much beloved wherever known.
XIII. - The Rev. James Miibank Challiss, the thirteenth Pastor, was born in Philadelphia, on the fourth of January, 1799; was baptized in Salem, New Jersey, on the nineteenth of October, 1817, by Rev. Joseph Sheppard; and was licenced [sic] on the twenty-fourth of June, 1801, by the Salem Church.
Mr. Challiss was ordained by the Church at Upper Freehold, Monmouth county. New Jersey, on the seventh of December, 1822; but he had been preaching for that Church since June of that year. He remained as Pastor until March, 1838, - a period of about sixteen years.
Mr. Challiss became Pastor of Lower Dublin, on the thirty-first of March, 1838; and continued there until the first of April, 1845. He was subsequently Pastor at Moorestown, New Jersey, from April, 1845, to March, 1852; and at Cohansey - one of the constituent Churches of the Philadelphia Association - from April, 1852, to March, 1860.
He retired from pastoral duties; and after residing for some years at Bridgeton, New Jersey, he died there on the fifteenth of April, 1868, aged sixty-nine years.
XIV. - The Rev. Thomas Roberts, the fourteenth
Pastor, was born in Denbighshire, North Wales, on the tenth of June, 1788; came to America in October, 1803; and settled in the State of New York. He was baptized by Rev. John Stevens, on the ninth of March, 1806; and by invitation of Rev. Dr. David Jones, Pastor of the Great Valley Church, Mr. Roberts became co-pastor with him, and was there ordained, in 1815, by Rev. Dr. Staughton and Rev. Messrs. David and Horatio G. Jones.
When the Mission to the Cherokee Indians was founded, Mr. Roberts went out as a Missionary with Rev. Evan Jones; and upon his return, he became Pastor at Lower Dublin, on the third of August, 1845, and so continued until the first of April, 1847. Although in the Minutes he is styled "a supply," yet he was in effect their Pastor; and was so returned on the Minutes of the Association.
Mr. Roberts was also Pastor of the ancient Church at Middletown, New Jersey, he published a small treatise on Baptism.
He died at Middletown, on the twenty-fourth of September, 1865, aged eighty-two years.
XV. - The Rev. Richard Lewis, M.D., the fifteenth Pastor, was born on the twenty-fifth of July, 1817, at Llanidoles, North Wales, but left that place when very young. He was baptized in the year 1833, when sixteen years of age, by Rev. Cornelius Morrell, Pastor of the Baptist Church at Stalylbridge. The following year he was called to exercise his gifts, and was licensed to preach; and, at the same time, he became Principal of a flourishing Seminary. Meanwhile he prosecuted his studies under Mr. Morrell.
In June, 1841, Mr. Lewis embarked for America; and, on his arrival, spent some time in New York, but eventually made Philadelphia his
abode. In 1842, he became Pastor of the Mount Tabor Church, in Philadelphia, where he remained until 1847. On the twenty-seventh of April, 1847, he commenced his pastorate at Lower Dublin, but resigned in 1852, and left on the twenty-fifth of April, in that year. He then labored as Pastor of the Church at Holmesburg, until 1860, when he resigned.
Mr. Lewis afterwards studied medicine at the Pennsylvania, Jefferson, and Homeopathic Medical Colleges, and graduated at the latter as M. D. He now resides at Frankford and practices medicine.
XVI. - The Rev. William Hutchinson, the sixteenth Pastor, was born in the town of Drumlample, County of Londonderry, Ireland, in 1794; and came to America in the year l819.
He was baptized at Cazenovia, New York, in 1820, by Rev. John Peck, and was licensed, by the Cazenovia Church, in June, 1821. He entered Hamilton Institution, and graduated in 1824, and was ordained that year at Cazenovia. He returned to Ireland, and preached to his countrymen under the Patronge [sic] of "The London Baptist Irish Society." In l827, he again came to America; and, in 1828, became Pastor of the Church at Brandon, Vermont, where he labored for three years. While at Brandon, he established The Vermont Telegraph, a weekly religious newspaper, of which he became its first Editor. In 1831, he became Pastor of the Church at Amenia, Duchess-county, New York, and continued there until 1833, when he removed to Fayetteville, Onondaga-county, and officiated for about three years as Pastor of the Church in that place. In 1836, he went to Oswego, and labored as Pastor of that Church, until the fifteenth of December, 1852, when he was chosen
Pastor of the Lower Dublin Church, and remained such until December, 1856, when he resigned.
XVII. - The Rev. Alfred Harris, the seventeenth Pastor, was born in 1829, at Bulchmawr, Pembrokeshire, South Wales; and came to America in 1841. He was baptized by his father at Remsen, Oneida-county, New York, in the Winter of 1842. He was licensed by the Remsen Church, of which his father was Pastor. He was educated at a Free Will Baptist Institution at Whitesboro', New York; and was ordained at the Berean Baptist Church, in the town of Marcy, New York, for which Church he preached about six years. Mr. Harris was afterwards called to the charge of the Beakleyville and Upper Mount Bethel Churches in Pennsylvania, and remained with them one year, when he became Pastor of the Willistown Church. After serving that Church for two years, he became Pastor of Lower Dublin, on the sixteenth of March, 1857; and labored with much success until March, 1860, when he resigned, and took charge of the Church of Hoboken, New Jersey.
Mr. Harris has contributed numerous articles to the Welch Magazines, and is able to preach in that language.
XVIII. - The Rev. George Kempton, D.D., the eighteenth Pastor, w T as born on the twenty-ninth of August, 1810, in the Parish of St. Thomas, South Carolina.
He was baptized in February, 1832, and joined the Robertsville Church, by which he was licensed, on the twenty-second of December, in that same year.
In January, 1833, lie entered Furman Theological
Institution; where he remained two years. In October, 1835, he entered the Freshman Class, of Madison University, then called Hamilton Institution, and graduated there in the Arts, in August, 1839. In 1840, he was called as a supply by the Church at Smyrna, South Carolina, and while there was ordained; and the following year he became Pastor of the Robertsville Church, where he remained until 1844, when he was called to the Spruce-street Church, Philadelphia. In 1852, he removed to New Brunswick, and became Pastor of the Church at that place; and continued there until 1857, when he was called to the Pastorate of the Church at North-east, Duchess-county, New York.
In 1852, the Honorary Degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon Mr. Kempton, by the University at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and in 1857, he received the Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Madison University, at Hamilton, New York. In October, 1860, he became Pastor of the Lower Dublin Church.
Dr. Kempton has preached several sermons which have been printed. He resigned the charge of the Church in 1865; and now resides at Hammonton, New Jersey.
XIX. - The Rev. William E. Cornwell, the nineteenth Pastor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the twenty-fourth of October, 1836. He was baptized at Bridgeton, New Jersey, on the thirteenth of February, 1853; and commenced to study for the ministry in the Spring of 1854; and on the twenty-eighth of July, 1859, he was graduated at the Theological Department of the University at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
He was ordained on the twenty-sixth of October,
1859, at Woodstown, New Jersey; and was subsequently Pastor of the Church at Canton, Salem-county, New Jersey.
On the eighteenth of March, 1866, he commenced his labors as Pastor of the Lower Dublin Church, and still continues to hold that honorable position. During his pastorate he has baptized a large number; and a Mission Chapel has been built and dedicated, at Fox Chase, a few miles from the parent Church.
The following tabular statement will give a brief summary of the various Pastors, and the length of each pastorate:Elias Keach served the Church from January, 1688, to 1689.
John Watts, from December 10, 1690, to August 27, 1702.
Evan Morgan, from October 23, 1706, to February 16, 1709.
Samuel Jones, from October 23, 1706, to February 3, 1722.
Joseph Wood, from September 25, 1708, to September 15, 1747.
Abel Morgan, from February 14, 1711, to December 16, 1722.
Jenkin Jones, from June 17, 1726, to May 3, 1746.
Peter Peterson Vanhorne, from October 31, 1747, to February 7, 1762.
Samuel Jones, D.D., from January 1, 1763, to February 7, 1814.
Jacob Grigg, from December, 1815, to September 1, 1817.
Joshua P. Slack, from September 1, 1817, to October, 1821.
David Jones, Jr., from January 1, 1822 to April 9, 1833.
James M. Challiss, from March 31, 1838, to April 1, 1845.
Thomas Roberts, from August 3, 1845, to April 1, 1847.
Richard Lewis, from April 27, 1847, to April 25, 1852.
William Hutchinson, from December 15, 1852, to December, 1856.
Alfred Harris, from March 10, 1857, to March, 1860.
George Kempton, D. D., from October 7, 1860, to April 1, 1865.
William E. Cornwell, from March 18, 1866.
III. - LICENTIATES.
The Church, during its long existence, has granted liberty or license to preach to the following persons, many of whom subsequently became eminent Ministers of the Gospel, viz:John Watts,
Charles E. Wilson
IV. - RULING ELDERS.
Messrs. John Holme, John Vansandt, and William Marshall were the only persons who were chosen to act as Ruling Elders.
V. - DEACONS.
The following poisons have been elected as Deacons:Samuel Vaus, January, 1687.
Joseph Ashton, May, 1688.
Samuel Jones and Joseph Wood, October, 9, 1699.
Griffith Miles, October 23, 1706.
John Hart, June 16, 1721.
Daniel Davies, December, 1721.
George Eaton, June 17, 1726.
Alexander Edwards, August 2, 1746.
Crispin Collett, May 2, 1747.
Thomas Webster, June 6, 1758.
James Dungan, and Joseph Engles, March 30, 1775.
John Wright, February 3, 1776.
Benjamin Dungan, March 30, 1782.
Thomas Holme, August 2, 1806.
Joseph Wright, October 1, 1814.
Thomas Miles, 1814.
John Foster, April 10, 1817.
Morgan Holme and Thomas Scattergood, October 10, 1831.
John Neville and Jacob W. Ott, August 5, 1839.
John Blake and Benjamin M. Dungan, February 5, 1844.
George Snyder and Shadrach Miles, December 25, 1849.
Franklin Johnson and Samuel Heritage, April 6, 1867.
The original document has the membership data in numbers for each year to the date of publication, these are not included. There were 250 church members in 1868.
[From Open Library On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Pennsylvania Baptist Church Histories
Baptist History Homepage