committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs







time-line of baptist history


  • John Smyth formed one of the first Separatist churches in England, having renounced Anglicanism and became minister at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, to a group of Separatists who had similarly abandoned the Church of England.
    Obadiah Holmes was born in England (year approximate).


  • Smyth’s congregation fled to Holland to avoid Anglican persecution. Met Mennonites (one of several Anabaptists groups)
    Smyth became convinced that believer's baptism was biblical and infant baptism was not and after having adopting Baptist principles in Holland, Smyth baptized first himself and then others, including Thomas Helwys, later an influential London Baptist.


  • First English General Baptist church formed in Holland under John Smyth. Smyth was later excommunicated by his church when he tried to make them become Mennonites. 1609 is unofficially referred to as the beginning of the Baptist denomination.


  • Smyth sought to merge his congregation with the Mennonites.
    Pastor John Smyth became an Amsterdam Mennonite.


  • Organization of first General Baptist church in England by Thomas Helwys and Murton.
    Thomas Helwys led a group opposed to the merger back to England and established the first Baptist church in England.

  • Thomas Helwys rejected particular atonement, free will and partial depravity.
    John Smyth publishes his confession of 1611 and was the first Baptist confession among English speaking believers.

  • This movement grew into the General Baptists who held to Arminian theology. Initially baptized by pouring, later by immersion.
    Lost members to the Quakers and the Unitarians.


  • Thomas Helwys, formerly of Smyth’s congregation, returns to England and forms the first General Baptist church. His classic, A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, is the first claim for freedom of worship in the English language.
    Plea to James I for religious freedom.


  • After returning to England, Helwys was thrown into Newgate Prison by order of King James I probably for what was in his plea to the (Christian) James I; The King is a mortall man and not God, therefore hath no power over ye immortall soules of his subjects to make lawes and ordinances for them and to set spirituall Lords over them.


  • Death of Thomas Helwys, one of the founders of the Baptist faith while in prison under King James' order.

  • Henry Jacob began another Baptist movement of non-separatists. This movement became Particular Baptists and held to hyper-Calvinist theology.
    Henry Browne set up a Congregational Society in Norwich before being forced to flee with his followers to Holland. The movement was re-established in London. Societies, known as Independents, were founded in different parts of the country. Like the Baptists, each church was a separate body supporting its own minister, but might belong to a voluntary district association.

  • The Independent congregation of which Henry Jacob was pastor, having become very numerous, a division took place, and that portion which had adopted the opinions 'of the Baptists, chose Mr. Spilsbury for their pastor. This was the first separate Baptist Church holding the hyper-Calvinistic doctrine (An Analytical and Comparative View of all Religions Now Extant Among Mankind, p.381, 1838, Josiah Conder).


  • July 22, Under the leadership of John Robinson, English Separatists, began to emigrate to North America - eventually, they came to be known as the Pilgrims.

  • September 16, The Mayflower left Plymouth, England with 102 Pilgrims aboard. The ship would arrive at Provincetown on November 21st and then at Plymouth on December 21st.

  • The Baptists present to King James I, Loyal subjects, unjustly called Anabaptists, and to Parliament as the confession of their faith.


  • Birth of John Bunyan in the parish of Elstow, in Bedfordshire, to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley (Thomas's first wife, Anne Pinney, had died the year before without any surviving children).

  • September 6, Puritan colonists landed at Salem and started the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


  • Roger Williams accepted the post of chaplain to Sir William Masham at his manor house at Otes in Essex. His courtship of Jane Whalley was brought to an abrupt termination by the disapproval of her aunt, Lady Barrington. Stung by the rejection, the young clergyman became ill of fever and was nursed back to health by Mary Barnard, a member of Lady Masham's household. She is believed to have been the daughter of the Rev. Richard Barnard in Nottinghamshire. Rogers Williams and Mary Barnard were married at High Laver Church in Essex on December 15.

  • Williams became a chaplain in the household of a wealthy family.

  • Samuel Skelton was elected the first pastor of Salem, Massachusetts. The church covenant created by Skelton made his congregation the first non-separating congregational Puritan Church in New England.


  • Two groups of Baptists emerge. Both believe that only those who put their trust in Christ can be saved, but while the so-called General Baptists believe that anyone can have such faith, the Particular Baptists believe that the only people capable of having such faith are those few who have already been pre-chosen by God.


  • After fifty-seven days of a storm-wracked voyage, Roger Williams and his wife anchored off Nantasket on February 3 and arrived in Boston on the 5th. His arrival in America was duly noted by the MA Bay Colony Governor, John Winthrop, in his carefully kept diary. Winthrop described Williams as a "godly minister" and it is certain the young clergyman was welcome in the new colony in Boston.

  • Williams refused an invitation to become the minister of the church in Boston because he opposed its ties to the Church of England.

  • The General Court of the Massachusetts issued the decree that "no man shall be admitted to the body politic but such as are members of some of the churches within the limits" of the colony.


  • Roger Williams returned to Salem.


  • First Baptist church in North America founded in Providence, RI by Roger Williams. Eventually moved toward General Baptist views.
    Williams became the minister of a church at nearby Salem.


  • Roger Williams was ordered by the General Court (MA Bay authorities) to be banished from Massachusetts and threatened with deportation to England if he did not renounce his convictions. "Whereas Mr. Roger Williams, one of the Elders of the church of Salem, hath broached and divulged new and dangerous opinions against the authority of magistrates, as also written letters of defamation, both of the magistrates and churches here, and that before any conviction, and yet maintaineth the same without any retraction; it is, therefore, ordered that the said Mr. Williams shall depart out of this jurisdiction within six weeks now next ensuing," etc. Williams publicly proclaiming that the MA Bay charter was invalid, since the king (James I) had no right to give away lands belonging to the Indians. He also denounced them for forcing religious uniformity upon the colonists. He believed in what he called "soul-liberty", which meant that every man had the complete right to enjoy freedom of opinion on the subject of religion.


  • An attempt was made to seize Roger Williams and transport him to England, and he, forewarned, escaped from his home at Salem and proceeded alone to Manton's Neck, on the east bank of the Seekonk river.

  • September 8, Harvard College (later University) was founded by the Massachusetts Puritans at New Towne. It was the first institution of higher learning established in North America, and was originally created to train future ministers.


  • The first Particular Baptist church organized by John Spilsbury.

  • Organization of the first Baptist church in America; at Providence, R. I., by Roger Williams, or in Newport, R. I., by John Clarke.

  • March 22, Religious dissident Anne Hutchinson was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony as punishment for heresy.


  • Roger Williams joined the Baptist faith and founded the first Baptist church in America. However, within a few months he withdrew from this group and became a "Seeker".
    Baptists persuade Roger Williams and Ezekial Holliman to accept their view of the church, and thus the first Baptist congregation in America is formed, in Providence, Rhode Island
    At the request of Massachusetts, Williams' mediation prevented a coalition of the Pequots with the Narragansetts and Mohegans. He wrote of this service in later years: Three days and nights my business forced me to lodge and mix with the bloody Pequot ambassadors, whose hands and arms me thought reeked with the blood of my countrymen murdered and massacred by them on Connecticut River.

  • June 21, American theologian Increase Mather was born.


  • Particular Baptist church founded in Newport, RI.

  • Southwark church became convinced of believer's baptism and were baptized by immersion, pastored by Henry Jessey.


  • Baptism by immersion emphasized by John Spilsbury.


  • Roger Williams went to England to obtain a charter to unite Providence with the settlements of Warwick, Newport and Portsmouth, which were coveted by MA Bay, Plymouth and CT. On the voyage wrote his Key to the Indian Languages. In his dedication he says, "A little key may open a box where lies a bunch of keys." The charter he obtained proved to be very important as it was indisputable for the next 20 years.


  • London Confession of 1644: Calvinistic, emphasized baptism by immersion and religious liberty.

  • Organization of Association of London Particular Baptists.

  • John Bunyan enlists in the Parliamentary army, joining with the Newport Pagnell garrison, at the regulation age of sixteen.


  • General Baptists published a pamphlet "The Fountain of Free Grace Opened" which defended free will and general atonement.

  • Newport Pagnell garrison moves to Leicester. Most probably, it was here that Bunyan's comrade was shot. "When I was a soldier, I, with others, were drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it; but when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room; to which, when I had consented, he took my place; and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was shot into the head with a musket bullet, and died." - John Bunyan, from "Grace Abounding".


  • John Tombes, BD, a man of great ability and a native of Bewdley, was appointed Curate of St. Anne's. He entertained very strong objections to infant baptism, and so, while still retaining his office in the Church, he founded a separate Baptist society, which numbered 20 persons.

  • George Fox tells us that Tombes said he had a wife, and he had a concubine ; and his wife was the baptized people (Baptists) and his concubine was the world.

  • A confession of faith of seven Baptist Churches in London is published.
    New England Puritan theocracy enacts laws requiring church attendance and belief in the Bible.


  • George Fox founds Society of Friends


  • Charles executed; Oliver Cromwell rules England as Protector of Commonwealth.
    The first Baptist church in Wales was established at Ilston on the Gower peninsula in 1649. Baptist churches are generally self-governing within a Baptist Union. There are separate Baptist Unions for English and Welsh speaking congregations.

  • The colony of Maine passed legislation creating religious freedom for all citizens, but only on the condition that those of "contrary" religious beliefs behave "acceptably."


  • Welsh Association formed of three churches.


  • Midland Association of thirty General Baptist churches formed.

  • Confessions, signed by some of the General Baptists, were published in 1651 by thirty churches in the Midland counties.

  • Cirencester Baptist Church founded.

  • In the month of July, in company with Dr. John Clarke and Mr. Crandall, Obadiah Holmes made a visit to William Witter, A Baptist, who resided at Lynn, Massachusetts. The day after their arrival being the Sabbath, they arranged to have a religious service at Witter's home. While Dr. Clarke preached, two constables presented to him the following warrant: "By virtue hereof, you are required to go to the house of William Witter, and to search from house to house for certain erroneous person, being strangers and them to apprehend, and in safe custody to keep, and to-morrow morning at eight o'clock to bring before me. Robert Bridges."

  • September 5, Obadiah Holmes Whipped for writing a catechism, among other Baptist beliefs.


  • Obadiah Holmes was ordained to preach the gospel, and took Dr. Clarke's place as pastor of the Baptist church in Newport.


  • John Bunyan joins St. John's church in Bedford, where he meets Mr. Gifford, the pastor.
    First meeting of the General Assembly of General Baptists at London. Baptists are prominent in Parliament and Cromwell’s New Model Army


  • Roger Williams became the president of the Rhode Island Colony. He held this position until 1657.


  • John Bunyan moves to Bedford and becomes a deacon of St. John's church.

  • First wife dies soon after move, leaving John with four motherless children. Mr. Gifford dies in September of the same year.


  • Publishes first work entitled "Some Gospel Truths Opened".

  • Henry Jessey visits Gloucestershire.

  • July 1, The first Quakers (Mary Fisher and Ann Austin) to arrive in Boston are arrested. Five weeks later they were deported back to England.

  • August 5, Eight Quakers arrived in Boston. They were immediately imprisoned by the Puritan authorities because Quakers were generally regarded as politically and religiously subversive.


  • Publishes second work entitled "Vindication of Gospel Truths" (year is approximate).
    John Bunyan is formally recognized as a preacher.

  • Roger Williams contributed to Rhode Island's decision to provide refuge for Quakers who had been banished from other colonies, even though he disagreed with their religious teachings.


  • Death of Oliver Cromwell

  • Indictment is laid against John Bunyan at the Assizes for "preaching at Eaton Socon". The charge was most likely dropped.

  • John Bunyan publishes third work entitled "A Few Sighs From Hell".


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded". This is the last book he writes before being placed in prison.


  • John Bunyan is scheduled to preach at the hamlet of Lower Samsell (November 12). Upon his arrival, he is informed that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. After a lengthy interview with Mr. Francis Wingate, and another with Wingate's brother-in-law, William Foster, (who unsuccessfully tries to persuade Bunyan into a concession), John was placed in Bedford prison. He was charged with "devilishly and perniciously abstaining from coming to Church to ear Divine Service, and for being a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the laws of our sovereign lord and king." Within approximately eight days of John's arrest, his wife gives birth, only for the infant to die soon after. "I am but mother-in-law to them, having not been married to him yet full two years. [Elizabeth, John's second wife, spoke this in 1661.] Indeed, I was with child when my husband was first apprehended; but being young, and unaccustomed to such things, said she, I being smayed at the news, fell into labour, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered, but my child died." - John Bunyan's wife, from "A Relation of My Imprisonment"
    Organization of General Assembly of all Associations of General Baptists in London.

  • Beginning of the time known as the Great Persecution and the Restoration of the Monarchy (through 1688). Baptist women especially come under persecution.

  • General Baptists publish their confession of faith.

  • On July 26, the Baptist churches of Lincolnshire, in their petition to Charles II., say: "We have been much abused as we pass in the streets, and as we sit in our houses, being threatened to be hanged if but heard praying to our Lord, in our own families, and disturbed in our so waiting upon Him by continual beating at our doors and sounding of horns; stoned when going to out meetings ; taken as evil-doers, and imprisoned when peaceably met together to worship the Most High in the use of His most precious ordinances.

  • The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror , was published by Herald Press.

  • There were more than 200 Baptist churches in England (about 130 Particular Baptist, and 110 General Baptist), with more in Wales.


  • Members of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation at Bull-Stake-Alley in London are jailed at Newgate Prison and their pastor, John James, is hung, drawn, and quartered.

  • Parliament passes a series of acts that exclude Baptists and other Nonconformists from holding public offices, forcing them out of schools and penalizing them for not attending Anglican services and for preaching without a license (1661-1664)


  • The Assizes of 1662. John Bunyan endeavors to have his name entered in the calendar of offenders, so his case would come before the judges. However, the Clerk of the Peace alters John's entry, thus making it possible for Bunyan to remain in prison for the next four years.

  • John Bunyan Writes "I Will Pray With the Spirit and With the Understanding Also, or a Discourse Touching Prayer".


  • John Bunyan publishes "A Discourse Touching Prayer".

  • John Bunyan writes "Christian Behavior".

  • John Myles, founder of the first Baptist church in Wales, persuades most of his congregation to emigrate to the colonies, and they settle at Swansea, Massachusetts.


  • John Bunyan publishes "One Thing Is Needful" on single sheets to be sold by his wife and children, to aid them financially (date is approximate.

  • Isaac Backus arrives in New England and at once joined with Dr. Clarke's First-day Baptist Church at Newport, though his views favored the observance of the seventh day.

  • March 24, Roger Williams was granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island.

  • May 27, At the age of 24, colonial theologian Increase Mather became the minister of Boston's Second (Congregational) Church. He would serve there until his death in 1723.


  • John Bunyan writes "The Holy City", and "The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment" from Bedford prison.

  • John Bunyan writes a poem entitled "Prison Meditations" in response to a letter he received, exhorting him to hold his head above the flood.

  • Thomas Goold refuses to allow his children to be baptized in the Puritan church and is banished from the colony. Later in the year he helps to organize the first Baptist church in Boston.


  • John Bunyan publishes "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners".

  • A brief period of freedom follows re-incarceration "He was let out again, 1666, being the year of the burning of London, and, a little after his release, they took him again at a meeting, and put him in the same jail, where he lay six years more."—Charles Doe, A friend and biographer of John Bunyan.


  • Organization of General Six-Principle Baptists in Rhode Island.

  • First Baptist Association formed in RI.


  • Organization of the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America at Germantown, Pennsylvania.

  • John Bunyan is released from Bedford prison, after twelve years of imprisonment. His formal pardon is dated September 13, 1672, but he received a royal license to preach five months earlier.


  • John Bunyan publishes "Christian Behavior" as a pocket volume.


  • John Bunyan writes "The Pilgrim's Progress" during six months of incarceration. After being released the same year, he resumes his pastorate in Bedford.

  • May 3, Massachusetts passed a law that required church doors to be locked during services - evidently to keep people from leaving before the long sermons were finished.


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Strait Gate".


  • Confession of 1677, a revision of the Westminster Confession.

  • Some' Baptists felt a need to identify themselves with a large body of non-Anglicans.


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Pilgrim's Progress". Second edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress" is published in the autumn.

  • The first Baptist meetinghouse in the colonies is raised in Boston.

  • English General Baptists produce the Orthodox Creed that seeks to unite all Protestants against the Catholic tendencies of King Charles II.


  • 0John Bunyan publishes "A Treatise of the Fear of God".


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Life and Death of Mr. Badman".


  • John Bunyan publishes "Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ".


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Holy War". Publishes the eighth edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress", and makes last improvements. Publishes "The Barren Fig Tree".

  • Obadiah Holmes dies, his sufferings having made a lasting effect upon the lives of many, (William Cathcart, Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881)

  • May 11, After two years, two key laws were repealed by the General Court of Massachusetts: one which prohibited people from observing Christmas and another that set capital punishment for Quakers who returned to the colony after being banished.


  • Roger Williams dies.

  • Traditional date of the founding of the first Baptist church in Charleston, SC (this date is often questioned).


  • Baptist beginnings in Middle Colonies of America(?)

  • John Bunyan publishes ninth edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress". Publishes the second part of "The Pilgrim's Progress". Publishes "Seasonable Counsel".

  • Elder Thomas Dungan from Ireland left his native home to escape persecution, and coming to Rhode Island he joined himself to the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island, where Doctor John Clark was the pastor.

  • Elder Dungan and a small group of members left the church at Newport to organize the Cold Spring Baptist Church in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


  • John Bunyan publishes tenth edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress". Bunyan is in danger of returning to prison.

  • Forced Out of New England, Baptists Thrive in Carolina – Somerton, South Carolina


  • John Bunyan publishes "The Water of Life". Publishes "The Jerusalem Sinner Saved" in a pocket volume of eight sheets. Preaches his last sermon from John 1:13 (August 19).

  • Bunyan travels through drenching rain on behalf of a young man, whose father was angry with him. After succeeding his mission, he returns to his lodging on Snow Hill. After enduring ten days of violent fever, he dies and is buried in Bunhill Fields.

  • "The Barren Fig Tree" is reprinted a few months after John's decease.

  • Elias Keach came to Pennsylvania and posed as a minister. While preaching he came under terrible conviction and had to stop. He confessed his lost condition and the people sent him to Elder Thomas Dungan pastor of the Cold Spring Baptist Church in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Elias Keach was saved there by the grace of God. He was baptized and ordained by the Cold Spring Baptist Church and as a missionary out of the Cold Spring Baptist Church he organized the Pennepeck Baptist Church (also known as the Lower Dublin Baptist Church) at Pennepeck, Pennsylvania.

  • Even after William and Mary of Orange ascended to the throne and abolished oppressive laws, Baptists still had to pay taxes to support the state church.


  • General Assembly of General Baptists threatened by Arian teachings of Matthew Caffyn.
    Congregational Singing 'Unsafe' – General Baptist Convention Rules – London, May 23.
    London Confession of Particular Baptists is published.

  • General Assembly of Particular Baptists organized in London.

  • The Piscataway Baptist Church of Shelton, Middlesex County, New Jersey was organized as a separate, or independent church. Until that time in history, it had been a branch of the Lower Dublin Baptist Church under the ministry of Elias Keach.


  • General Six Principle Baptists, who practice the laying on of hands, organize the first Baptist association in America in the environs of Providence, Rhode Island.


  • Bunyan's "The Jerusalem Sinner Saved" is reprinted (3rd Edition).

  • Charles Doe publishes "An Exposition on the First Ten Chapters of Genesis, and Part of the Eleventh", an unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.


  • John Bunyan's "Of Antichrist and His Ruin", "Christ a Complete Saviour", "A Discourse of the House of the Forest of Lebanon", and "The Saints' Knowledge of Christ's Love", are published.


  • Charles Doe publishes "The Heavenly Footman".


  • Thomas Bonger first General Baptist minister in Virginia.

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