Richard B. (Richard Briscoe) Cook.

The early and later Delaware Baptists online

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Bequest of

Frederic Bancroft


^2^ ^i/y i^





eev. eichakd b. cook, a.m.,

Pastor of the Second Baptist Church, "Wilmington,







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by the

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

* , "VtESTdbOTTl &*aJH0MSONj • /
Sferioiyph-s *and i:iectrotypers, Philada.


At the meeting of the Delaware Baptist
Union, at Media, Pennsylvania, November,
1879, an outline of "The Early and Later
Delaware Baptists" was read, whereupon a
Committee, consisting of Prof. G. D. B. Pep-
per, D. D., Eev. George Bradford, and Rev.
William H. Young, was appointed by the
" Union " to confer with the author and se-
cure its publication in full.

The author gratefully acknowledges his in-
debtedness for books of reference, pamphlets,
and manuscripts to the Hon. H. G. Jones, P.
Miles Frame, Esq., Elder E. Rittenhouse,
Rev. B. MacMackin ; and for the most of the
facts relating to the organizations, pastors, etc.
of the early Baptist churches in Delaware,


such as Welsh Tract, Duck Creek, Gravelly
Branch, Mispillion, etc., he is indebted to the
manuscript materials of Eev. Morgan Ed-
wards, which are preserved in the Library
of the American Baptist Historical Society,

The author returns his acknowledgments to
Louis H. Everts, publisher of The Baptist En-
cyclopcedia — which he is now issuing under the
editorial care of Wm. Cathcart, D. D. — for elec-
trotypes of Abel Morgan, D. D., Daniel Dodge,
D.D., and Rev. R .B. Cook; also to J. C. Hark-
ness, A. M., of Harkness Academy, Wilmington,
for the electrotype of Welsh Baptist Church.


By Prof. G. D. B. PEPPER, D. D.,
Crozer Theological Seminary, Delaware Co., Penn.

Inspiration teaches us to forget the things
which are behind, to reach forth unto those
things which are before, and to press toward
tlie mark. And well may it ; for to us, in the
future only is achievement j^ossible. The past
will not come to us, nor shall we go to it. But
to run well we must run not blindly, but intel-
ligently. And as we know the future only by a
study of the past, we must look back, in order
to see ahead. Practical Wisdom ever lights
her torch at the flame of history ; thus he who
best remembers ^' things which are behind " for
instruction, best forgets them for attainment.
This is clearly seen from the structure of Holy
Scripture, in which historical record is domi-
nant in influence and predominant in quantity.
From out that book homely and lowly events,
1* 5


told in a plain and simple way, cast a guiding
light for all the ages to come.

This little History of the Delaware Baptists
thus commends itself in the very fact that it
is a history. And truly it well deserves the
name. The author, admirably qualified and
situated for its preparation, has spared no time,
labor, or expense to make it an exact exhibit
of the actual course of events. His facts are
not his inventions. Hence the lesson brought
to us is not his, but theirs. Hence the voice
which speaks to us is that, not of man, but of
providence, which is the voice of God.

Yet the book is not a mere heap of dead
facts, a pile of dry bones. History is a life.
Historic events are the result and manifestation
of spirit and power. They are bound together
organically by a vital principle, and constitute
a genuine development. Were this not so, they
would have no meaning for living men in the
guidance of their lives. The writer of history
recognizes this life, grasps, holds, and shows
it, and thus aids his readers in understanding
the past. So does this little work come to us,
not simply as a depository of facts, but also as
a manifestation of their principle and meaning.


The presentation, though concise, is clear, im-
partial, and comprehensive.

Baptist history in Delaware has a character
and value all its own. It is unique. It is not
distinguished simply by the place of its enact-
ment, a corner cut off from a uniform piece of
cloth. Its lessons are its own, and it teaches
them in its own way. One lesson, especially,
of utmost import it makes solemnly and sadly
prominent. Perhaps nowhere else in this coun-
try has Antinomianism, with its natural, if not
inseparable, attendants of anti-Missionism, anti-
Sunday-school-ism, and all the other kindred
anti-isms, so impressively by its fruits proved
its origin, nature, and doom. In doing this it
has also proved with like certainty its antag-
onism to the genuine Baptist faith and prac-
tice. While the earliest and the latest Baptists
are one in spirit and doctrine, they are both
irreconcilably in antagonism with this distor-
tion of divine truth. Its defenders may claim
and receive the Baptist name, but they have
no right to it. It does not belong to them.
That they wear it works mischief to those to
whom it does belong, for it leads many to
confound the true with the false, and un-


justly to regard the true as they justly do
the false.

But while this defection carries its lesson of
humiliation and warning, there remains much
equally instructive of which to be proud. He-
roic men, able ministers of the New Testament,
with fellow-workers of kindred spirit all astir
with Christian enterprise, their hearts and hands
always ready for every good work, sowed good
seed in the soil of Delaware. That enemies
from their own number, bearing their own
name, afterward sowed tares almost to the
destruction of the wheat, was not their fault.
The record of their lives and w^orks is an ample
vindication of the Baptist name, and will be
an inspiration to Baptist workers.

Delaware needs, what God is giving her, a
revival of the old cause and a resurrection of
its old champions. Dr. J. D. Fulton once said
that " a Baptist Church is an illuminated edition
of the New Testament." Of the true idea of
a Baptist Church, fully realized, this is hardly
too much to say. Its members are all members
of Christ's spiritual body. Its Head is Christ,
and him only. Its law is the New Testament
itself. Its authoritative Interpreter of the law


is the Holy Spirit, so enlightening all as to secure
harmony of view and action. Its officers are
presbyters, or bishops, and deacons. Its ordi-
nances are the two prescribed in the New Tes-
tament, observed as there given, administered
to those only for Vv'hom they were given, to
express the great spiritual facts and truths
committed to them, and observed in the order
fixed alike by their own nature and the word
of inspiration. It holds itself and each of its
members bound to do everything possible to
put the gospel into all human hearts and
forms of human life all the world over.
Catholic in sympathies, its members love all
God's children, whatever their names, and are
ready to co-operate with them or anybody else
in all good works, but refuse to countenance a
subversion of Christ's revealed will, wliether
intentional or unintentional. This ideal church
may be rare, but the present BajDtists of Dela-
ware intend to make it easy to find just such a
church anywhere in the State. This little vol-
ume is intended and is well fitted to become a
help to this end.




1. The Welsh Tract Church, 1701 14

2. Labors of Baker and Hughes, 1775 22

3. The Sounds Church, 1779 27

4. Broad Creek Church, 1781 28

5. Cow Marsh Church, 1781 30

6. BrynZion Church, 1781 31

7. Mispillion Church, 1783-1848 34

8. Gravelly Branch Church, 1785 37

9. The Bethel 38

10. First Church, Wilmington, 1785 40

11. Distinguished Men 51

12. The Delaware Association, 1795 74


1. Second Church, Wilmington, 1835 96

2. Dover Church, 1852 103

3. First German Church, Wilmington, 1856 107

4. Delaware Avenue Church, Wilmington, 1865. 112




5. Plymouth Churcb, 1867-1873 115

6. Lincoln Church, 1869-1873 117

7. Zion Church, 1871 118

8. Wyoming Church, 1872 120

9. Magnolia Church, 1873 121

10. Milford Church, 1873 122

11. Elm Street Church, Wilmington, 1873-1876... 123

12. Shiloh Church, Wilmington, 1876 123

13. New Castle Church, 1876 124

14. Bethany Church, 1878 127

15. Wilmington Baptist City Mission, 1870 130

16. Wyoming Institute, 1869 130

17. Delaware Baptist Union, 1878 132



Ix the fall of 1682, William Penn sailed up
the Delaware to take charge in person of his
large estates in the New World. He landed
first at New Castle, Delaware, and then went
on to Philadelphia. There were Baptists
among the early settlers of Pennsylvania,
for the Cold Spring Baptist Church was
formed in 1685, and in 1 688 the oldest existing
Baptist Church in Pennsylvania, the Lower
Dublin, at Pennypack, now in Philadelphia.
The '' Old Swedes' Church/' Wilmington, re-
garded as " among the antiquities of American
civilization," was built in 1698, or ten years
later. As early as 1703 a Baptist Church ex-
isted in Delaware. The Baptist churches first
formed in this State were mostly of Welsh

2 18


origin. The earlier churches became eventual-
ly Antinomian in doctrine and practice, but the
later churches have always been missionary.
For other reasons, therefore, besides those of
convenience and of origin, we treat them sepa-
rately. At one period of their history these
early churches were one in doctrine and practice
with the Baptist churches of to-day.

1. The Welsh Tract Church, 1701.

For the origin of this, the first Baptist
Church in the State, we must cross the Atlantic
to Wales. In the spring of 1701, sixteen Bap-
tists in the counties of Pembroke and Caer-
marthen resolved to go to America. They
formed themselves into a church, with Rev.
Thomas Griffith, one of their number, as Pas-
tor. They embarked at Milford Haven in June,
1701, and have been properly styled a "church
emigrant." They landed at Philadelphia, Sep-
tember 8, 1701, where they were courteously
received by the brethren, and advised to settle
about Pennypack, to which place they removed.
They continued at Pennypack about a year and
a half, during which time their church increased

From Hill near Newark.


from sixteen to thirty-seven. Then they " took
up '^ land in New Castle County — one of the
three counties of Delaware then in Pennsyl-
vania — from Messrs. Evans, Davis, and Willi;^,
who had purchased upward of thirty thousand
acres of William Penn, called the ^' Welsli
Tract." To this they removed in 1703, leav-
ing some of their number at Pennypack, and
receiving while there accessions in return. At
Iron Hill they built a small meeting-house,
which occupied the site upon which the present
one, erected in 1746, stands. It is in the neigh-
borhood of Newark. In the yard around the
church sleep the successive generations that
have in their time and turn w^orshipped in that
place. The new church was joined from time
to time by others from Pennypack and from
Wales. Many also united with them by baj)-
tism ; and, being aggressive, their principles
soon spread in Delaware, and also into the ad-
jacent parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland,
and as far as South Carolina. The Welsh
Tract Church was the mother of the London
Tract (Pennsylvania) and the Duck Creek
(Delaware) churches, and in some degree of
the Wilmington, Cow Marsh, and Mispillion


churches (Delaware), since her pastors labored
successfully in these latter places, and many of
the converts, having united with that church,
were dismissed at times to form the churches
that were organized in these fields.

In November, 1736, forty-eight members,
says Edwards, under the leadership of Rev.
Abel Morgan, " late of Middletown,'^ were dis-
missed to form the Welsh Neck Church, on
Pedee River, South Carolina, where they had
settled. Benedict gives James James, whose
son Philip became their Pastor, as their leader,
and as the date of the settlement 1737, and
that of the formation of the church January,
1738, and says that the number was thirty
when organized. AVhen he wrote, it was the
largest as well as the oldest church in the
Welsh Neck Association, which was composed
of thirty-eight churches, and was the mother
of all the churches in that region.*

But to return. Says Morgan Edwards, in
his manuscript ("Materials toward a History
of the Baptists of Delaware,'' pp. 232, 233)':
^' Welsh Tract Church w^as the principal, if not
sole, means of introducing singing, imposition

* Benedict's Ristoi-y of the Baptists, pp. 704, 705, 710.


of hands, church covenants, etc. among the
Baptists in the Middle States. The Century
Confession was in America before the year
1716, but without the articles which relate to
those subjects." " That year they were inserted
by Eev. Abel Morgan, who translated the Con-
fession into Welsh, after being signed by one
hundred and twenty-two of the members of
the Welsh Tract Church. They were inserted
in the next English edition, and adopted with
the other articles by the Association [Philadel-
phia] of 1742. Singing ])salms met with op-
position, especially at Cohansey, but laying on
of hands on baptized believers, as such, gained
acce})tance with more difficulty, as appears from
the following history, translated from ^ Welsh
Tract Church Book ^ — that is, the church
record, which up to 1732 was kept in Welsh:
^ AVe could not be in fellowship (at the Lord^s
Table) with our brethren in Pennepek and
Philadelphia, because they did not hold to the
lay ing-on-of -hands (on baptized believers) and
some other particulars (as to church covenants,
ruling elders, etc.) relating to a church.' "

The difficulty increased, owing to the pres-
ence among them of members who had joined

2* B


them at Peunypack. It was settled by deputies
at the house of Richard Miles, Radnor, Penn-
sylvania, June 22, 1706, on the side of mutual
forbearance, liberty, and union. When an
effort was made three years after by some to
reopen the matter, the church refused, saying,
" We are satisfied that all was right, by the
good effects that followed, for from that time
forward our brethren held sweet communion
together at the Lord's Table, and our minister
was invited to preach and assisted at an ordina-
tion at Pennepek after the death of our brother
Watts. He proceeded from thence to the Jer-
sey's, where he enlightened many in the good
ways of the Lord, insomuch that, in three years
after, all the ministers and about fifty-five pri-
vate members had submitted to the ordinance."
So it appears from Edwards, in the extract
above, that the Welsh Tract Church numbered
at least one hundred and twenty-two in 1716.

Benedict says (page 304): "The church is
very handsomely endowed." According to
Edwards, the endowment yielded an annual
income of one hundred pounds, or about five
hundred dollars. The pulpit was filled by
good and able men of Welsh extraction for


about seventy years. The following is a list
of the Pastors of the church, with dates indi-
cating the period of their service, and in the
order of their succession, as far as we can as-
certain : Rev. Thomas Griffith * was born in
Wales in 1645, and emigrated with the church,
which he served as Pastor for twenty-four years.
He died at Pennypack July 25, 1725. He
visited New Jersey in 1706 and 1711, and
taught the people, stirring up young men to
use their gifts, and thus many churches were
soon su})plied with pastors from their own

Rev. Elisha Thomas was born in Wales in
1674, and emigrated with the church, being
one of its constituent members. He died Nov.
7, 1730, and was buried in the churchyard,
" where,'' says Edwards, " a handsome tomb is
erected to his memory." This tomb, still pre-
served, would hardly be regarded now, after the
lapse of one hundred and fifty years, as being
" handsome " with its rude carvings of an open
Bible and inscriptions —

"With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked."

* Mr. Edwards writes this name Griffiths.


Rev. Enoch Morgan, the next Pastor, was
also a constituent member of the church, and
came over with them. He was a half-brother
to Rev. Benjamin Griffith, Pastor of Montgom-
ery Baptist Church, Pennsylvania, who was
also for years Moderator of the Philadelphia
Association, and a brother of the Pev. Abel
Morgan, author of the Welsh Concordance.
Their father was a famous Baptist minister in
Wales, named Morgan ap Phyddarch. Enoch
Morgan was born in Wales in 1676, died March
25, 1740, and was buried in the churchyard at
Welsh Tract, where his tomb still stands.

Pev. Owen Thomas was born in Wales in
1676, and came to America in 1707. He be-
came Pastor in 1740, resigned in 1748, and
died in 1760. He was "held in dear remem-
brance by all that knew him," and was styled
"an excellent man."

Pev. David Davis, born in Wales in 1708,
came to America in 1710, was baptized Jan-
uary, 1729, and ordained at Welsh Tract, 1734,
at which time he became Pastor, serving the
church thirty-five years. He died in 1769, and
was buried in the graveyard of the church, where
" a handsome stone covers his remains also."


Rev. John Sutton was the first Pastor of the
church who was born in America. He became
Pastor, November 3, 1770, and resigned to go
to Virginia in 1777. He was a native of New
Jersey, and a man of considerable distinction.

Rev. John Boggs, his successor, was an able-
bodied man, says the Chronicle, hence he travel-
led much, preaching in the surrounding country.
He was born in 1741, bred a Presbyterian,
baptized at Welsh Tract, November 3, 1771,
was ordained and took charge of the church,
December 5, 1781, and died there in 1802.

Rev. Gideon Farrell was born in Talbot Coun-
ty, Maryland, in 1763. He was bred a Quaker,
but was baptized by Philip Hughes in 1770 at
the Sounds, and ordained at Churchill in 1779.
Mr. Farrell had preached about once a month
for the church for seven years, aiding the Pas-
tor, before he was invested with the pastoral
office. He remained Pastor until his death, in
1820 or 1821.

Rev. Stephen W. Woolford served them from
1822 to 1830.*

* Taken from the Minutes of the Delaware Association.
The Delaware Association Minutes for 1837, '38, 73, and
'76 inaccessible.


Elder Samuel Trott, from 1831 to 1832.*—
Elder William K. Robinson from 1833 to 1836,*
or later. He died in 1843 or 1844. — Elder
Thomas Barton from 1839* until his death in
1869 or 1870. He had then been sixty years
in the Christian ministry, forty-five of which
were spent within the bounds of the Delaware
Association as Pastor of three of its churches.
—Elder G. W. Staton in 1871 and 1872.*—
Elder William Grafton appears as Pastor in
1877.— No Pastor in 1879.t

2. Labors of Baker and Hughes, 1778.
There came from Virginia into Delaware, at
the close of 1778, Rev. Elijah Baker, and in
the spring of 1779 he was followed by Rev.
Philip Hughes from the same State. They
labored together "as evangelists" for about
twelve moutlis, preaching at Broad Creek,
Gravelly Branch, and other places. Many

^ Taken from the Minutes of the Delaware Association.
The Delaware Association Minutes for 1837, '38, 73, and
'76 inaccessible.

t As far as can be learned from the Minutes of the Del-
aware Association accessible to the writer, this is a correct
list. If there is any error, doubtless it occurs after 1870,
to which date it is accurate.


converts were " baptized on profession of faith
and repentance/' They prepared materials and
resolved to build churches. At first thev and
their disciples went by the name of Separate
Baptists, but the distinction was soon dropped.
They were not only well received and their
labors approved, but, in their eflPorts to save
souls, were aided on every hand by Baptist
ministers and laymen, who helped them also
in the constitution of churches and in the or-
dination of ministers. And none were more
zealous in this united effort than Messrs. John
Boggs and Thomas Fleeson, Pastors respective-
ly of Welsh Tract and London Tract churches.

Messrs. Baker and Hughes were instrumental
in founding twenty-one churches in Virginia,
Maryland, and Delaware, and spent much time
in '^ visiting them, as fathers do their children."
The Salisbury Association was organized by
them. It takes its name from a town in Mary-
land near the Delaware line, where this Associa-
tion was formed, and distinguished as the birth-
place of Rev. Noah Davis, the founder of the
American Baptist Publication Society.

Mr. Baker's life is recorded both by J. B.
Taylor, D. D., in his Lives of Virginia Baptist


Ministers, and Rev. R. B. Semple in his His-
tory of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in
Virginia. The latter publishes a letter from
Dr. Robert Lemon, for years Moderator of the
Salisbury Association, at whose house he died
^N'overaber 6, 1798, testifying to his exalted
Christian character, the faithfulness and power
of his preaching, and his triumph in the hour
of death, when he " seemed rather to be trans-
lated than to suffer pain in his dissolution " —
(p. 397). Morgan Edwards, in his " Materials
. . . Delaware," pp. 247, 248, gives us an inter-
esting account as to how Mr. Baker came to
leave Virginia, where he was born in 1742,
and baptized by the famous Samuel Harris in
1769, and where he suffered much for the word
of God. He came into Delaware upon "an
invitation from Thomas Batston, Esq., who
had heard him preach through the grates in
Accomac jail about the year 1777. The rude
Virginians, in order to get rid of him, put him
on board a privateer, where he suffered much
abuse, but he continued to sing, and pray, and
exhort notwithstanding, till the crew^ was tired,
and then let him alone, saying, ^ He is not worth
a curse ;' but the privateer being detained long


in tlie harbor by contrary wind, the crew
suspected that the cause was that preaching
fellow, and therefore put him on board another
vessel ; but the wind continuing contrary, that
vessel began to be of the same mind with the
privateer, and therefore shifted him to a third,
and the third put him ashore. When Jonah
found himself on the dry land he complied
with Squire Batston's invitation." And be it
said to the credit of Delaware that she had no
prison, like Virginia, nor whipping-post, like
Massachusetts, for Baptists, who were left un-
disturbed in their views and practices. And
Delaware has to thank for this liberty her gov-
ernor, William Penn, whose father. Admiral
Penn of the English navy, tradition says, was
a Baptist. And Penn was only exemplifying
the time -honored Baptist principle of equal
liberty for all when he came to establish ^'a
civil society of men enjoying the highest degree
of freedom and happiness.^^

The account that Mr. Edwards gives of Mr.
Baker's co-laborer is not without interest. He
says : " Rev. Philip Hughes shares in the praise
of Mr. Baker, as they were fellow-laborers in
most of the good that was done in this and


other States. He was born in Colver County,
November 28, 1750, bred a Churchman, avow-
ed his present sentiments, August 10, 1773,
when he was baptized by Rev. David Thomp-
son, called to the ministry in Rowanty Church,
was ordained at an Association held in Vir-
ginia, August 13, 1776. . . . He published a
volume of hymns in 1782, many of which are
of his own composing; also an answer to a
Virginia clergyman on the subject of baptism
in 1784. He also was obliged twice to appear
on the stage to dispute on the subject — once at
Fouling Creek in Maryland in 1782. His an-
tagonist was a Methodist preacher of the name
of Willis. Victory was announced by both
parties, but facts varied much, for after the dis-
pute three class-leaders and many others were
baptized by Mr. Hughes. The other dispute
was held near the mouth of [the] Potomac, in
Virginia, in the year 1785. Mr. Hughes's

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Online LibraryRichard B. (Richard Briscoe) CookThe early and later Delaware Baptists → online text (page 1 of 8)