Edward E Cleal.

The story of Congregationalism in Surrey online

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Benjamin Scott, Esq., F.R.A.S.,

Chamberlain of the City of London; First Chairman of the Surrey

Congregational Union.

















Nearly fifty years ago the Rev. John Waddington
was asked by the newly-formed Surrey Congregational
Union to prepare a history of its churches. Much
history is made in half a century, especially in London
and its vicinity, and for a long while it has been felt
by the Union that the time had come to write anew the
fascinating story. Three years ago the Executive
entrusted the task into my hands. That task I have
endeavoured to perform to the best of my ability. It
has not been an easy work, but it has been a labour of


Waddington in his preface refers to the great difficulty
of obtaining full and authentic local information
respecting our churches. I, too, have often found that
only the baldest facts were accessible. But a greater
difficulty still has been the task of selecting and con-
densing within some four hundred and fifty pages
material enough to fill half a dozen similar volumes.
The tale of such a church as the Pilgrim Fathers'
requires a volume to itself, and the same is true of such
churches as Kingston, Guildford, Dorking, Mortlake
and many others.

One thing especially has been a matter of regret— that
the limitations of space have made it impossible to give


fuller reference to the laymen of our county. One
cannot read the records of our churches without feeling
intense admiration for the men who have in every
generation done such noble work for Christ, none the
less effective because it was quiet and unpretending.
Though not called ministers, they have been ministers
indeed. Again and again some family has been in
the holy succession for several generations, and b}'
staunch fidelity to conviction, and by devoted service,
has made a church under the blessing of God a
power in its neighbourhood. And that leads me to
express the hope that one result of these and similar
county histories may be to induce churches that have
not already done so to search out and publish fuller
records than can be attempted here.

Unfortunately when this book was almost finished
a complete breakdown in health laid the work aside.
After more than a year it was taken up again to find
that considerable condensation was necessary. In this
I was assisted by the kind services of Rev. J. Alden
Davies, of South Croydon, and Rev. J. H. Milnes,
M.A., of Woking. Even then further condensation
and revision was required, and in this the assistance
was obtained of Rev. T. G. Crippen, of the Memorial
Hall Library, who also kindly undertook to write the
few remaining accounts (Hanover, Surrey Chapel, and
some extinct churches), and see the work through the
press. Mr. Crippen has also prepared the valuable map
and appendices that accompany this volume.

Acknowledgments are due to Principal E. Griffith-


Jones for the account of Balham Church, and to Rev.
Bernard Snell for that of Brixton, to Rev. W. Mottram
for the sketch of Rev. Geo. Murphy, and to Mr. W.
Chennell for the account of the Guildford stations.

The illustrations of well-known ministers and laymen
have been prepared from photos and engravings that
appeared in the Year Books and Evangelical Magazine.
It was thought best not to include the portraits of any
living ministers, but an exception has been made in the
case of that honoured veteran of Congregationalism,
Dr. Guinness Rogers. The engravings of buildings are
from blocks that have been kindly supplied by the
churches whose names they bear, and in some instances
by the Congregational Union of England and Wales,
and from the British Congregationalism For the block
of Mr. Rae we are indebted to the Surrey Times.

The arrangement of the churches in this volume has
been adopted after much consideration. It was felt
that neither a purely alphabetical nor a chronological
sequence was desirable. The county union divisions
have therefore been taken, and within these areas the
churches generally follow one another in the order in
which they were founded. Mission stations follow the
churches to which they belong.

No one can write a book of this kind without being
conscious of its deficiencies, but the greatest care has
been taken to ensure accuracy. A list of authorities
consulted appears upon another page. In addition to
these I have in many cases been able to examine the
church books and other documents. In most instances



the MS. has been sent to someone best acquainted with
the church's history for correction and remarks. In
cases of conflicting accounts — and these are by no
means rare — the best advice has been taken.

In conclusion I desire to thank the many ministers
and deacons who have so freely rendered valuable help,
and to express a hope that the publication of this
volume may lead to a deeper interest in the work of
our churches, and the Union that binds them together.


2, Vernon Road,

East Sheen, S.W.,
March, 1908.




Allbutt. — " History of Stockvvell Church."

Allon.— " Life of Sherman."

Anderson.—" History of Independent Dissenters at

Bax — " Plundered Ministers of Surrey."
Besse.— " Sufferings of the Quakers."
Bogue and Bennett.—" History of Dissenters."
Boyne. — " Token Coinages."
Brayley. — " History of Surrey."
Bright.—" History of Dorking."
Brook. — " Lives of the Puritans."
Caine, W. S., M.P., Biography of.
Calamy.— " Nonconformists' Memorial," edited by

S. Palmer.
Christian World newspaper, file of.
Church Magazines, Manuals, and Year Books, various.
Congregational Historical Society, Transactions of.
Congregational Year Books, Lists, Biographies, etc.
Congregationalist, The.
Dale. — " History of Congregationalism."
Domestic State Papers in the Public Record Office.
Evangelical Magazine.
Farren. — "Jamaica Barn."

" Ministry of Rev. Thos. Rosewell."
Gentleman's Magazine.


Hall, C. Newman. — Autobiography.

Hanbury. — " Historical Research concerning the Most
Ancient Congregational Church in England."

Home Missionary Magazine.

James. — " History of Litigation concerning Pres-
byterian Chapels and Charities."

Jerrold. — " Surrey."

London Chapel Building Society Reports.

London Congregational Union Reports.

London Congregational Directory.

Manning. — " History of Surrey."

McCrie. — " Annals of English Presbyterianism."

Monthly Repository.

Morden. — " History of Tooting Graveney."

MSS. (various) in Williams's Library.

Neal. — " History of the Puritans."

Pike.—" Dr. Parker and his Friends."

Protestant Dissenters' 1 Magazine.

Rogers, J. G. — Autobiography.

Selden Society Papers.

Shirley.—" Life of Rowland Hill."

Simmonds.— " All about Battersea."

Surrey Archaeological Society's Papers.

Surrey Congregational Penny Magazine.

Surrey Congregational Union Reports.

Surrey Mission Reports.

Waddington.— " Surrey Congregational History."

Williamson, D.— Articles on Guildford Noncon-
formity in Local Magazine.

Wilson, Joshua.—" Life of Thomas Wilson."

>> >> Papers in the Congregational


Wilson, Walter.—" History of Dissenting Churches."


The history of Surrey Congregationalism is for
the most part told in the following records. But that
history would not be entirely complete without some
account of that organised Congregationalism that is
outside any church, and yet holds them all in one


Although not exclusively a Congregational society,
the Surrey Mission has been so closely associated with
our churches that it merits a reference in these pages.

The Surrey Mission was formed in 1797 by Rev.
James Bowden, of Tooting. Deeply concerned for the
deplorably dark state of the county, he gathered together
a number of ministers and Christian friends of various
denominations with the object of propagating the
gospel in those villages of the county where it was not
preached. The first meeting was held at Tooting in
June, 1797, when a committee was formed and prin-
ciples and plans of work agreed upon. From the first
it was resolved that the work should be purely evan-
gelistic and undenominational. During the summer
ministers of the county visited the villages, and in the
winter the agents of the society were employed in
house to house labours. Eventually chapels came to
be established in various localities, which formed the
centre of operations for surrounding villages. Amongst
towns and villages worked at one time or another by the
mission have been Epsom, Milford, Ash, Pain's Hill,


Oxted, Shere, Gomshall, Felday, Haslemere, Addle-
stone, Elstead, Sutton, Wormley, Normandy, Worp-
lesdon, and many others. Some of these missions
have developed into Congregational or Baptist churches,
others are carried on as missions by neighbouring

With the formation of the Surrey Union, and the
growth of church life in the county, the special work of the
mission became less needed, until to-day out of a slender
endowment it only makes grants +o one or two stations
in the county. But its record is a noble one. It
was the pioneer of evangelistic work. Its agents have
been amongst the most devoted men the county has
known, and Nonconformity in many a rural district
owes not only its strength, but its very existence, to the
work of the Surrey Mission.

After the Bicentenary Commemoration of St. Bar-
tholomew's Day, 1662, that black day when some two
thousand godly ministers of the Episcopal Church
were deprived of their livings, it was felt that it would
be a fitting memorial of the commemoration to form
a Congregational Union for Surrey. For many years
the Surrey Mission had been established, and had
done splendid service in the evangelisation of the
villages ; but this, as we have seen, was an unde-
nominational effort, and confined itself necessarily to
evangelistic work. It therefore left untouched important
branches of Christian labour which in other counties
were undertaken by Congregational associations.

The want of such an organisation had long been felt.
The isolation of many of the Congregational churches
was a distinct source of weakness, and Nonconformity
had made less progress in Surrey than any other
county of England. It must be remembered, too, that


at this time the London Union did not exist, so that
the care of the weaker churches was a problem that
called for immediate consideration.

Accordingly a conference of representatives of the
churches was held at Kingston in October, 1862, and
again at York Road, Lambeth, on Tuesday, March 24,
1863, when it was agreed that a Union should be

The first meeting of the Union was held at Wey-
bridge on June 9, 1863, at the house of Benjamin
Scott, Esq., Chamberlain of the City of London.
Eighty-two delegates attended, representing forty
churches. A paper was read by Rev. R. \V. Betts, of
Peckham, on " The Religious Condition of the Metro-
politan District of the County," and Rev. A. E. Lord,
of Hersham, dealt with the conditions of rural Surrey.
The work that the Union might attempt was outlined
by Rev. A. Mackennal, of Surbiton. Mr. Benjamin
Scott was elected the first President, and Mr. J. W.
Buckley, of Croydon, the first Treasurer. Revs. R. \Y.
Betts and A. Mackennal, of Surbiton, were appointed

For forty-five years the Union has pursued its way,
endeavouring to carry out the work it assigned to
itself "to promote the union and efficiency of the
churches, and the spread of evangelical religion ; to
advance the principles of Nonconformity ; and to
uphold and enlarge civil and religious freedom."

One important part of its work has been to aid the
weaker churches of the county with grants of money.
In this way new churches have been founded, young
causes fostered and strengthened, and the work sus-
tained in many districts where otherwise it would have
been impossible. To-day the Union aids some twenty

W. Marten Smith. Esq.,
Late Treasurer Surrey Congregational Union.

Henry Jessey, M.A.,
Ejected Rector of St. George's, Southward




This venerable church has long claimed to be the
oldest representative of Congregationalism, not only in
Surrey, but in England ; alleging an unbroken succes-
sion from the closing years of the sixteentli century.

The claim was first advanced, about 1820, by
Benjamin Hanbury, the erudite compiler of " Historical
Memorials of the Independents " ; and was strenuously
maintained by the learned Dr. John Waddington. But
a careful examination of documents unknown to those
diligent investigators clearly shows that the origin of
the church cannot be dated earlier than 1616 ; and that
its historic continuity from that time to the present,
though probable, cannot be regarded as altogether
beyond dispute. It is proper, however, here to narrate
in brief what may be accepted as certain about the
genesis of Congregationalism in Southwark ; because,
though continuity of organisation cannot be insisted
on, moral and spiritual continuity are unquestionable.

There were, in and about London, a considerable
number of godly men and women who had been con-
strained by conscience to separate from the communion
of the " Church by Law Established " ; and, believing



that the Church should be modelled on New Testament
teaching, had formed a fellowship on something resem-
bling Congregational lines at least as early as 1567.
They met secretly in various places — in Islington, Gray's
Inn Lane, near St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in Nicholas
Lane in the city, at Deptford, Southwark, and St.
George's Fields. Their leader, John Greenwood, was
long imprisoned in the Fleet ; and during his temporary
release, in 1592, a party of them assembled in the house
of Roger Rippon in Southwark, organised a regular
Congregational Church, and appointed elders and other
officers. Persecution speedily thinned their ranks. Two
of their number — Greenwood and Henry Barrowe —
were put to death on April 6, 1593, and the saintly
patriot, John Penry, on May 29 of the same year.
Rippon and several others died in prison ; and of the
remainder, the greater part found refuge in Holland. A
few remaining, and some of these, still holding fellow-
ship with the exiles, are heard of as late as 1632.

Another Congregational Church was gathered by
Henry Jacob in 1616. He had been educated at St.
Mary Hall, Oxford, had held a Church living at
Cheriton in Kent, had been persecuted and imprisoned
for Puritanism, had migrated to Zealand, and had
been at Leyden, where he had learned from that grand
old Puritan, John Robinson, his beliefs as to Church
government. In 1616 he returned to England with the
design of forming a church upon the model of what he
had seen in Holland. In Southwark he found the
material to his hand, and laid the foundation of what is
believed to be the oldest Independent Church in Eng-
land. The brethren appointed a solemn day of fasting
and prayer, for the blessing of God upon their under-
taking; and, having made open confession of faith, with


joined hands, solemnly covenanted with each other in
the presence of Almighty God to walk in His ways and
ordinances, as He had revealed, or should reveal unto
them. Mr. Jacob was chosen pastor, and others were
appointed to the office of deacon, with fasting and
prayer, and imposition of hands. A few days after-
wards they notified their proceedings to " the Brethren
here of the Antient Church." Little is known of Mr.
Jacob's pastorate, but it is interesting to remember that
during this time the church provided the London con-
tingent of the first passengers in the Mayflower, in
1620, so earning its right to be called " The Church of
the Pilgrim Fathers." Four years afterwards Mr. Jacob
went to Virginia, where he shortly after died.

Henry Jacob was succeeded by John Lothrop, or
Lathrop, who had been a clergyman in Kent, but had
renounced his orders. During his ministry the church
was often disturbed ; and on one occasion, at the house
of Humphrey Barnet, a brewer's clerk in Blackfriars,
forty-two of the congregation were apprehended and
only eighteen escaped, one of those arrested being the
celebrated Praise-God Barbone. They were confined
in various prisons, in one of which they had as com-
panions two members of " the Antient Church," i.e.,
that of 1567 or 1592.

They continued in prison about two years, and were
then released on bail, except Mr. Lothrop, for whom no
favour could be obtained. However, he petitioned King
Charles for liberty to depart from the kingdom, and in
1634 left for New England with about thirty of his
people. The church had before this grown so numerous
that the members could not safely meet in one place ;
and some, differing from the rest on the subject of infant
baptism, desired a friendly dismissal so as to form a new

£ 2


communion. This was given, and on September 12,
1633, a Baptist Church was organised in Wapping
under the pastorate of John Spilsbury. This is now
represented by the church in Stoke Newington, which
formerly met for many years in Devonshire Square.

After this secession the remnant renewed their vows,
and were so steadfast in their faith that in spite of perse-
cution scarcely one of them deserted to the Established

Both Neal, in his " History of the Puritans," and Dr.
Waddington, in his " Surrey Congregational History,"
name, as Lothrop's successor, John Canne, the famous
compiler of marginal references to the Bible. But this
is now known to be a mistake ; Canne's connection was
with another church to which we shall presently refer,
and before Lothrop's departure he had removed to
Holland. There are notices of him in two of his books,
published in 1632 and 1634, as "Pastor of the Antient
English Church at Amsterdam."

Lothrop's successor was Henry Jessey, son of a York-
shire minister. He had graduated at Cambridge, and
held a benefice near York, but was displaced for refus-
ing to use the prescribed ceremonies. Being in the
neighbourhood of Uxbridge, he was earnestly importuned
to remove to London and take charge of the separated
congregation. About midsummer, 1637, " he answered
their desires, came and joined himself to them," and
laboured among them for twenty-five years. In 1639 ne
visited Wales, and assisted in organising the church at
Llanvaches, which still exists. Under the Long Parlia-
ment he was appointed rector of St. George's, Southwark,
where he preached in the morning, and to the " Gathered
Church " in the evening. Where the latter then met is
not known, but it has lately been ascertained that in


1650 — 54 they met in Swan Alley, Coleman Street.
Jessey also preached once a week at Ely House, and in
the Savoy to the wounded soldiers.

During Mr. Jessey's ministry, in 1638, another
Baptist secession took place. A little later the congre-
gation had again become too numerous to meet in one
place ; so in May, 1640, they divided themselves equally
and became two congregations, one continuing with
Mr. Jessey, and the other joining themselves to Mr.
Praise-God Barbone, who obtained such celebrity in
Cromwell's Parliament. Five years after, Mr. Jessey
himself became a convert to Baptist views, and was
immersed. Some dissension ensued; but an advisory
council decided that the case was one for mutual for-
bearance. After the Restoration he was ejected from
St. George's and twice imprisoned. Crosby says he
died in prison, but Calamy gives his death as five or
six months after his release. He lived a single life, and
was among the most charitable of men.

The course of events after the death of Jessey is
difficult to trace. Part of the church reorganised
themselves on strict Baptist lines, and in 1674 had a
minister of that persuasion named James Fitten, who
was assisted by Henry Forty. A few years later these
are believed to have united with another Baptist
Church, which subsequently coalesced with that in
Devonshire Square. It has been asserted with some
confidence that the paedobaptist remnant united with
a church whose pastor was Stephen More, and that he
was succeeded by Thomas Wadsworth. But recent
investigations show that this could not have been the
case. It will be convenient here briefly to sketch the
history of More's fellowship. It was gathered in 1621,
quite independently of Jacob's church, by one Hubbard,


who was succeeded by John Canne, before referred to.
He removed to Holland about 1632, afterwards
ministered in Bristol as a Baptist and Fifth Monarchy
Man, and was still living in 1664. After his removal
the church chose Mr. Samuel How, said to have been
a cobbler. Mr. How is believed to have been a
member of Lothrop's church. He does not seem to
have had any pretence to learning, and published a
sermon under the title of " The sufficiency of the
Spirit's teaching without human learning " ; but was
evidentlv well stored with religious knowledge. One
account of him says " His manner of studying on a
text was, as he sat in his shop mending of shoes, his
Bible lay by him, and when he thought fit, he looked
therein and considered thereof."

Some of the editions of Mr. How's discourse have
the following lines in the title page : —

'• What Hoiv ? how now ? hath How such learning found,
To throw art's curious image to the ground ?
Cambridge and Oxford may their glory now
Vail to a Cobbler if they know but How.
Though big with art, they cannot overtop
The Spirit's teaching in a Cobbler's shop."

Mr. How ministered to the congregation for seven years,
but was at last cited to the courts and excommuni-
cated. He died in prison about 1640, and not having
received episcopal benediction was buried in the high-
way near St. Agnes la Clair.

The next to minister to the little flock was Stephen
More, a citizen of good repute and a man of consider-
able substance, who had for several years held the
office of deacon. In January, 1641, they were disturbed
by the Marshal of the King's Bench, and a number of
them taken before Sir John Lenthall, who committed


them to the Clink prison. It is said that six or seven
of them were brought before the House of Lords, who
ordered them to be admonished to repair to their
several parish churches. Neal says that the Lords
treated them courteously, and asked where their
assembly was; and that the following day three or
four of the peers went to the meeting contributed
liberally to the collection, signified their satisfaction
with what they had heard and seen, and their inclina-
tion to come again. But the second visit was never

Pa More's meeting-house was in Deadman's Place-so
called from a burial ground in its vicinity-which forms
part of what is now called Park Street. After the
Restoration he was imprisoned, and his congregation
scattered; but under the Indulgence of 1672 he was
licensed (May 20) as an Independent teacher in the
house of Barnabas Bloxon, in Winchester Yard near
St Mary Overies. He died in 1684, and his church,
having had in succession three other pastors, was dis-
banded in 1705. .

We now revert to the Church of the Pilgrims. As
above stated, after the death of Jessey part of the
society became a strict Baptist fellowship; and it is
believed that the remainder constituted at least the
nucleus of the church which, after the indulgence,
enjoyed the ministry of Thomas Wadsworth. Wads-
worth was a Southwark man, who, under the
Commonwealth, occupied the sequestered rectory of
Newington Butts. This, after the Restoration, he
relinquished to the former incumbent, becoming curate
at St. Lawrence Poulteney, from whence he was
ejected by the Act of Uniformity. Thenceforward he
resided chiefly at Theobalds, Herts, where he preached

Online LibraryEdward E ClealThe story of Congregationalism in Surrey → online text (page 1 of 31)