Baptist History Homepage

Rev. John Waller
Frontier Baptist Preacher
The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881

      Rev. John Waller was born in Spottsylvania Co., Va., on the 23d of December, 1741, and was a descendant of the honorable family of Wallers, in England. His profanity acquired for him the name of "swearing Jack Waller,"and his general wickedness that of "the devil's adjutant." He was especially bitter against the Baptists, and was one of the grand jury that persecuted Rev. Lewis Craig for preaching. Mr. Craig's meek address to the jury arrested his attention and touched his heart. For seven or eight months his agony and remorse were intense. At length, having found peace in believing in Jesus, immediately he conferred not with flesh and blood, but began to preach the faith which he had destroyed, serving the Lord with greater zeal, if that was possible, than he had served Satan. Traveling through many counties, he everywhere attracted crowds of hearers and made many converts.

     He was soon made to feel the resentment of his former companions in sin. In a letter dated "Urbanna Prison, Middlesex County, Aug. 12, 1771," he gives an account of the arrest and imprisonment of himself and many others, and the cruel scourging of several by "the magistrate and the parson of the parish." "I have also to inform you that six of our brethren are confined in Caroline jail, viz.: Brethren Lewis Craig, John Burrus, John Young, Edward Herndon, James Goodrick, and Bartholomew Cheming." Those days did indeed try men's souls.

      In 1775 or 1776 he adopted the Arminian doctrine, declared himself an independent Baptist, and

[p. 1206]
withdrew from his brethren. But in 1787 he returned to his first love. The same year a very great revival began under his preaching, and continued for several years, spreading far and wide.

      In 1793 he removed to Abbeville, S.C. Here his success, though considerable, was not equal to that in his native State. His last sermon, at the funeral of a young man, was from Zechariah ii:4: "Run, speak to that young man." He addressed the young in feeble, touching strains, saying that it was his last sermon. He spoke until his strength quite failed, and then tottered to a bed, from which he was carried home, and died July 4, 1802, in his sixty-second year.

      He preached thirty-five years, baptized more than 2000 persons, assisted in ordaining twenty-seven ministers, and in constituting eighteen churches, and lay one hundred and thirteen days in four different jails, and he was repeatedly scourged in Virginia. He now rests from his labors, and his works followed him.


Baptist Biographies
Baptist History Homepage

Baptist History Homepage