Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881
Semple, Robert B., D.D., the youngest son of John Semple and Elizabeth (Walker) Semple, was born at Rose Mount, King and Queen Co., Va., Jan. 20, 1769. His father dying while he was still an infant, he was left to the faithful care of his mother, a stanch adherent of the Episcopal Church. He was educated at the well-known academy conducted by the Rev. Peter Nelson, and he made such progress in his studies that at the age of sixteen he became a valuable assistant teacher.
He was baptized in December, 1789, by the Rev. Theodoric Noel, and joined the Upper King and Queen church. He began immediately to speak for Christ, and preached his first discourse at the house of Mrs. Loury, Caroline County, December 24, the same occasion on which Rev. Andrew Broaddus made his first effort at preaching.
He was deeply interested in the cause of missions, and was one of the first in Virginia to advocate their claims. He enlisted the prayers and labors both of individual and churches in them; attended the first meeting of the Baptist General Convention; was an active friend of the Richmond Foreign and Domestic Society, and labored for the General Association of Virginia.
As an author, he won the regards of the denomination. In 1809 he published a Catechism for the use of children, which was extensively used and highly commended. In 1810 his "History of Virginia Baptists" was published. This work must have cost the author much time and trouble, but it conferred an important benefit on the churches, in enabling them to become familiar with each other's rise and progress, and in its tendency to bind them more closely together.
The Rev. Andrew Broaddus, who knew him intimately, said of him, "The distinguishing excellence of our brother in his ministerial capacity appeared to me to consist in a fund of knowledge of human nature, applied, as occasion called for it, to the various workings of the heart, and in what the apostle calls 'instruction in righteousness;' or an exhibition of the duty and advantage of practical godliness."
He died Dec. 25, 1831, and "in his removal," says his biographer, "the whole denomination sustained a loss."
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