A History of the Baptists Volume II
CHAPTER VI-The Baptists of
and South Carolina
Baptists in Kittery—The Letter of Humphrey Churchwood—William Screven—Before the Grand Jury—The Account of Joshua Millet—Screven Convicted of Contempt—Fined—His Character—Screven in South Carolina—The Opinion of his Enemies—Joseph Lord Writes to the Governor—The Settlement of Charleston—The Established Church—The Different Religious Sects—The First Baptists There—Lady Blake—Religious Conformity Demanded—No Other Baptist Church in the State—The Euhaw and Other Churches.
The history of the Baptists in Maine is widely connected with other sections of the country, especially with South Carolina. The first information at hand concerning the presence of Baptists in Kittery is contained in a letter which Humphrey Churchwood, a member of the Baptist church in Boston, but a resident of Kittery, addressed to his brethren in Massachusetts Bay; January 3, 1662. The letter is as follows:
Humphrey, a servant of Jesus Christ, to the church which is at Boston; grace be with you, and peace, from God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comforts, who comforteth us in all our tribulations that we maybe able to comfort them that are in trouble, as we are comforted of God. Most dearly beloved brethren and friends, as I am, through free grace, a member of the same body, and joined to the same head, Christ Jesus, I thought it my special duty to inform you that the tender mercies of God in and through Jesus Christ, hath shined upon us by giving light to them that sit in darkness, and to guide our feet in the way of peace; for a great door, and effectual, is opened in these parts, and there are many adversaries, according to the 1st of Corinthians 16: 9. Therefore, dearly beloved, having a desire to the service of Christ, which is perfect freedom, and the propagating of his glorious gospel of peace and salvation, and eyeing that precious promise in Daniel the 12th, 3d: "They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever"; therefore I signify to you that here (are) a competent number of well established people whose hearts the Lord hath opened insomuch that they have gladly received the word and do seriously profess their hearty desire to the following of Christ and to partake of all of his holy ordinances, according to his blessed institutions and divine appointments; therefore I present my ardent desire to your serious consideration, which is, if the Lord see it fit, to have a gospel church planted here in this place; and in order hereunto, we think it meet that our beloved brother, William Screven, who is, through free grace, gifted and endued with the spirit of utterance to preach the gospel, being called by us, who are visibly joined to the church. When our beloved brother is ordained according to the sacred rule -of the Lord Jesus, our humble petition is to God that he will be pleased to carry on his good work to the glory of his holy name, and to the enlarging of the kingdom of his beloved Son, our Redeemer, who will add daily to his church such as shall be saved; and we desire you in the name of the Lord Jesus not to be slack in this great work, believing verily that you will not, and that you are always abounding in the work of the Lord, and we humbly crave your petitions for us to the throne of grace, and we commend you to God and to the good work of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified.
This William Screven had already "presentments" by the Grand Jury before the County Court, at York, July 6, 1675, for not attending the church of the standing order. The following are the citations:
We’ll present William Scrivine for not frequenting the publique meeting according to the Law on the Lord’s days (Early Records, III. 396).
This person presented is remitted because in evidence it appears that he usually attends Mr. Mowdy’s meeting on Lord’s days (Early Records, III. 315).
At a Court held in Wells, July 4, 1676, Screven was appointed a constable for "ye lower part of the River." In 1678 and in 1680 he was appointed to serve on the grand jury, and at the General Assembly, held at York, June 30, 1681, he took his seat as a deputy from Kittery.
It is evident from these records, as well as from the letter of Churchwood, that in his religious views Screven was not in harmony with the standing order. He was nevertheless esteemed as a citizen, and was rapidly advanced to positions of official trust.
Joshua Millet gives a full account of the rise of these Baptists in Kittery. That account is here transcribed, with some authorities added which sustain every word of this careful historian. He says: "Baptist sentiments first appeared in Maine in 1681. At this time, there was peace and prosperity in the province. The war whoop was not heard; disputation and wrangling about claims and titles were at an end; and Massachusetts and Maine moved under the same form of government. Massachusetts had spread over the Province, not only her laws, but her spirit of religious intolerance. This spirit had already erected her battlements against the ‘wild fanaticism’ of all sects who did not bow to its authority (William D. Williamson, The History of the State of Maine, I.).
"Kittery, the oldest town in the Province, incorporated 1647, was selected as the place first to raise a Baptist standard. The first avowal of Baptist sentiments tested the spirit of charity in other sects. As in Massachusetts, so in Maine, the Congregationalists were recognized by law as ‘the Standing Order.’ They viewed the Baptists in the light of religious fanatics and regarded their doctrines and influences as deleterious to the welfare of both religion and society (Benedict, I.).
"It was soon known, that in Kittery, there were several persons professing to be Baptists. From where they came, is now unknown. In the course of events, an opportunity offered to them the privilege of-church communion, agreeable to their own theological views. The nearest Baptist church was at Boston, Mass., over which Rev. Isaac Hull (Ibid, I.) then presided. At the advice of Mr. Hull, these Baptists in Kittery united with his church.
"William Screven, an emigrant from England (Williamson, I.), was one of their number. Being a man of more than common talents, and devoutly pious, he officiated as leader of their worship (Boston Church Records). The brethren in Kittery and in Boston were satisfied that the Great Head of the Church had designed and called him to preach the gospel of Christ. He was accordingly licensed by the church in Boston, to ‘exercise his gifts in Kittery, or elsewhere, as the providence of God may cast him’ (Boston Church Records).
"The Baptists in Kittery being now blessed with a minister, and situated at so great a distance from Boston, deemed it expedient for their own spiritual advantage, and for the cause of Christ in the new settlements, to unite in a separate church. But their desire was at once disappointed by the violence of opposition.
"Moved by the same spiritual despotism which had disturbed the Baptists in Massachusetts, Mr. Woolbridge, the minister, and Mr. Huck, the magistrate, awakened prejudice and hatred against these conscientious disciples. in Kittery. Slanderous abuses and legalized tyranny-were now to be endured by them. Church members suffered not alone; but those who assembled with them for worship were repeatedly summoned before the magistrate, and by him threatened with a fine of five shillings for every such offence in the future (Backus, I.).
"Humphrey Churchwood, a man worthy of respect and esteem, for exercising his liberty of conscience, and encouraging the baptism of some of his friends, was conveyed before Mr. Huck and Woolbridge, to answer for abuses against the established order. But it doffs not appear that much was done but to revile and ridicule the Baptists.
"Alarmed at the success which attended these incipient and feeble efforts of the Baptists, the General Assembly of the Province took the business of oppression in their own hands. At the August session of the council, 1682 (Maj. B. Pendleton was then Deputy-President of the Province), Mr. Screven was tried and placed under bonds for good behaviour. The following is a copy of the records made by Edward Bishworth:
Mr. Screven appearing before this court, and being convicted of contempt of his majesty’s authority, and refusing to submit himself to the sentence of the court, prohibiting his public preaching; and upon examination before the court, declaring his resolution still to persist therein; the court tendered him the liberty to return home to his family in case he would forbear such turbulent practices, and amend for the future; but he refused, the court sentenced him to give bonds for his good behaviour, and to forbear such contentious behaviour for the future; and the delinquent stand committed until the judgment of this court be filed.
Varia Copia transcribed, and with the records compared this 17th of August, 1882.
E. B., Recorder.
(Early Records, IV. 237. August 17, 1688).
"Mr. Screven, regarding the precepts and examples of Christianity the only just rule of conduct, did not comply with the requisitions of the court. A fine of ten pounds was therefore imposed upon him. He was, moreover, threatened with the infliction of the penalties of the law for each and every future offence against the established order. This treatment constituted another part of the important business of the same session:
The court having considered the offensive speeches of Mr. Screven, viz.: his rash and inconsiderate words tending to blasphemy, do adjudge the delinquent for his offence, to pay ten pounds into the treasury of the court or Province. And, further, the court doth forbid and discharge the said Screven under and pretence, to keep any private exercise at his own house or elsewhere, upon the Lord’s day, either in Kittery, or any other place within the limits of this Province; and he is enjoyned for the future to observe the public worship of God in our public assemblies upon the Lord’s days, according to the laws established in this Province, upon such penalties as the law requires upon such neglect in the premises (Early Records, IV. 261).
"Neither these terrific proceedings of a provincial court, nor the slander and abuse of the clergy could crush the spirit and zeal of Screven, or prevent the embodiment of a Baptist church in Kittery. By the assistance of Rev. Isaac Hull, of Boston, the following persons were recognized, September, 1682, as a church of Christ in gospel order, they having been previously baptized. Win. Screven, minister; Humphrey Churchwood, deacon; Robert Williams, John Morgandy, Richard Cutts, Timothy Davis, Leonard Brown, Win. Adams, Humphrey Azell, George Litter, and several females (Benedict, I.). Storm and violence, fines, and imprisonments were now experienced by this little band of disciples. As a result of a long-cherished and well-organized religious intolerance venting itself in vehement and impassioned persecution, these humble Christians became disheartened and overcome. In less than one year from its organization, the church was dissolved and the members ‘scattered like sheep upon the mountains’ (Benedict, I.).
"To avoid the embarrassments of clerical opposition and further litigations, to shun the evils of slander and calumny, Mr. Screven, accompanied with his family, and some of his suffering brethren, left the Province, removed to South Carolina, where he gathered a Baptist church, which subsequently, became a flourishing society (Backus, II.).
"Mr. Screven was a native of England,—born in 1629. Soon after his residence in Kittery, he married Bridget Cutts, and was, with her, blessed with eleven children (Williamson, I.). His talents were above mediocrity. Though favored with but a partial literary competency, yet, a brilliant and energetic imagination, a fervent heart, enlivened by the genial influences of Christianity, wonderfully supplied that literary deficiency (Backus, I.) . He was beloved by his brethren, his ministrations were listened to with delight, and received with edification and profit (Backus, III.). He was eminent for devoted piety and religious usefulness. Mr. Screven died near Charleston, S. C., at the age of eighty-four years, leaving a respectable posterity to bear witness to his worth….
"From the dissolution of the church in Kittery, no Baptists appeared publicly in Maine for an interval of eighty-five years" (Millet, History of the Baptists in Maine; Greenleaf, Sketches of the Ecclesiastical History of the State of Maine, 243.Pourtsmouth, 1821).
It is not at all strange that under these conditions William Screven, now fifty-eight years of age, and his Baptist company removed to Cooper Creek, South Carolina, not far from the present site of Charleston. He called his home Somerton, after his residence in England. Charleston was then not even a village (McCrady, Edward, The History of South Carolina, 325, 326. New York, 1897).
The hatred of the New England clergy followed him in South Carolina. Rev. Joseph Lord wrote to Governor Thomas Hinkley from Dorchester, February 21, 1698-99, as follows:
When I came to Dorchester, I found that a certain Anabaptist teacher (named Scriven), who came from New England, had taken advantage of my absence to insinuate into some of the people about us, and to endeavor to make proselytes, not by public preaching up his own tenets, nor by disputations, but by employing some of his most efficient and trusty adherents to gain upon such as they had interest in, and thereby to set an example to others that are too apt to be led by anything that is new. And he had like to have prevailed; but Mr. Cotton’s and my coming has a little obstructed them; one woman being recovered and convinced of the error of that way,—for whose rebaptization a day was appointed, and another (a neighbor of ours, the wife of Major Broughton; by which you may perceive that they enter into the houses, and lead captive silly women) is in a way (I hope) to be convinced of it, though she was almost prevailed on to be rebaptized by plunging (The Hinckley Papers, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Fourth Series, V. 305).
The surroundings of the new church were favorable. They had left a region which but recently, in 1675, had been devastated in King Philip’s War, the most fearful of the early struggles of the natives. It had spent its fury in the region of Piscataqua. Though these emigrants from Maine were still in the region of the wild Indians, they were not molested by them.
Most of the members of the Baptist colony had, before 1693, removed to Charles Town. At first their meetings were held in the house of William Chapman in King Street. In 1699 William Eliott, one of the members, gave the church the lot of land on which the First Baptist Church, in Charleston, now stands, and a house of worship was erected on this lot in that or the following year (Tupper, History of the First Baptist Church).Since then this church has erected two buildings (Shecut, Essays).
Early in 1670, the first colony which made permanent settlement in South Carolina arrived. They were under the charge of William Sayle, of Burmuda, as Governor. He is described by the old narrator somewhat unkindly, as a "Puritan and Nonconformist, whose religious bigotry, advanced age and failing health promised badly for the discharge of the task before him." After many adventures, losing some of their ships, they finally made settlement on the banks of the Ashley. There they laid the foundations of the old Charleston, which was named in honor of King Charles.
On the 19th of April Sir John Yeamens entered upon his duties as Governor of the province. He brought with him from the Barbadoes the first negro slaves seen in South Carolina. Mayor Courtenay has given a graphic description of these early settlers—"pioneers in the settlement of an immense hunting ground, filled with wild animals, overgrown with forests, partly covered by swamps, and roamed over rather than inhabited by a great number of savage tribes, subsisting by the chase, and accustomed to war among themselves. In the midst of such conditions, these colonists laid the foundation, and their descendants reared this noted city, enduring hardships, facing the Indian and the wild beast and at times pestilence and famine. They were plain, earnest, hard-working people, who had left native land and crossed the ocean, their compelling motive the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, their hope to secure a large opportunity of life and work for themselves and their children."
There came settlers, in 1674, from New Amsterdam, or New York, as the English called it, because they were dissatisfied with their own masters. In course of time they blended with the other colonists.
While a majority of the Proprietors were of the Established Church of England, the larger part of the immigrants were from the beginning dissenters. "The first settlers of South Carolina were. of different religious persuasions. None had any particular connection with government; nor had any sect legal preeminence over another.
"This state of things continued for twenty-eight years. In that early period of the province divine service was seldom publicly performed beyond the limits of Charleston, with the exception of an independent church formed near Dorchester in 1696. The inhabitants of the province were nevertheless kept in a state of social order; for they generally believed in God, a future state of rewards and punishments, the moral obligations of the decalogue, and the divine authority of the Old and New Testaments. The first two acts of the legislature which have been found in the records of the secretary’s office enjoined the observance of the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday.; and prohibited certain gross immoralities, particularly ‘idleness, drunkenness, and swearing.’ Thus far the government aided religion in the infant colony. In the year 1698, one step further was taken by an act ‘to settle a maintenance on a minister of the Church of England in Charleston.’ This excited neither suspicion nor alarm among dissenters, for the minister in whose favor the law operated was a worthy good man; and the small sum allowed him was inadequate for his services. The precedent thus set by the legislature being acquiesced in by the people, paved the way for an ecclesiastical establishment. In the year 1704, when the white population of South Carolina was between 5,000 and 6,000, when the episcopalians had only one church in the province and the dissenters three in Charleston and one in the country, the former was so favored as to obtain a legal establishment (Ramsay, A History of South Carolina, II., 1, 2. Charleston, 1809).
Ramsay further says:
Liberty of conscience, which was secured to every one by the charter, proved a great encouragement to emigration. The settlement commenced at a period when conformity to the Church of England was urged with so high a hand as to bear hard on many good men. Dissenters labored under many grievances. These felt much and feared more.
"The toleration," says Oldmixon, "appears so firm in this charter, that we wonder that any Palatine could presume to break in upon it" (Oldmixon, The History of Carolina, I. London, 1708). "But it was inevitable that Old World’s animosities must needs sometime break out among the various people. They had indeed been alive from the very planting of the colony" (McCrady).
"With respect to religion," says Carroll, "three terms of communion were fixed: first, to believe that there is a God; secondly, that he is to be worshiped; and thirdly, that it is lawful, and the duty of every man when called upon by those in authority, to bear witness to the truth. Without acknowledging which, no man was to be permitted to be a freeman, or to have any estate or habitation in Carolina. But persecution for observing different modes and ways of worship was expressly forbidden, and every man was to be left full liberty of conscience, and might worship God in that manner which he in his private judgment thought most conformable to the divine will and revealed Word" (Carroll, Historical Collections of South Carolina, I.).
It was not without violence that the Church of England was established by law. Lord Granville "the palatine was a bigoted zealot for his mode of ecclesiastical worship and government; the governor was strongly attached to it. It was not, however, without some difficulty and considerable struggle that the keen opposition raised by the dissenters, who now plainly perceived their design, and who had an irreconcilable aversion to Episcopacy, could be overcome. By an undue influence and violence the governor and his adherents gained their point, and secured a majority in the house; so that a species of corruption had now infected the great fountain of liberty, the election of representatives.
"It would appear that some of the colonists at this period had distinguished themselves by loose principles and licentious language, and had treated some of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion with the ridicule and contempt of professed infidelity. To bring an odium upon this class of dissenters, and to discourage such licentious practices, a bill was brought into the new assembly for the suppression of blasphemy and profaneness; by which bill, whoever should be convicted of having spoken or written anything against the Trinity, or the divine authority of the Old and New Testaments, by the oath of two or more credible witnesses, was to be made incapable of being a member of assembly, or of holding any office of profit, civil or military, within the province; and whoever should be, convicted of such crimes a second time, was also to be disabled from suing or bringing any action of information in any court of law or equity, from being guardian to any, child, executor or administrator to any person; and without bail suffer imprisonment for three years. Which law, notwithstanding its fine gloss, savored not a little of an inquisition, and introduced a species of persecution ill calculated to answer the end for which it was intended" (Carroll, I.; also Hewatt, I.).
Manifestly these acts did not bring peace to the province. "If Christian magistrates and ministers would forsake their Quarrels," says Governor Archdale in 1707, "for Poor Triffies and barren Opinions, and encourage each other to plant substantial practical Truths, they may now sail East or West, and meet with people to make a plentiful harvest on, both in a Temporal and Spiritual respect, which would redound more to their glory and Advantage than all the unchristian Quarrels and Practices to promote unfruitful Doctrines that are computed to have shed more Christian Blood than all the Heathenish Ten Persecutions. I hope the Reader will not think this mixture of Spirituals with Temporals improper and impertinent, since the original Design of the Patent was the promotion of both" (John Archdale, A Description of that Fertile and Pleasant Province o f Carolina. London, 1707) .
Thus it happened that South Carolina received a considerable number of its early settlers from men who sought the prospect of securing religious liberty. Though not allowed to live in peace in Britain, they were from motives of policy encouraged to emigrate to the colonies, and were promised freedom and protection there—a promise which was not faithfully kept. They sometimes met with annoyance. Their friends protested earnestly against the intolerance. "Cannot dissenters," said they, "kill wolves and bears as well as churchmen, and also fell trees, and clear ground for plantations, and be as capable of defending them as churchmen?" The argument availed, so far at least as to allow their coming freely, though not to secure them the grants of land bestowed on the favorites of the royal family, or to obtain for them entire equality of privileges.
Grahame, an English writer of high character, says:
Strong symptoms of mutual jealousy and dislike began to manifest. themselves between the Dissenters and the Puritans on the one hand, who were the most numerous party in the colony, and the Cavaliers and Episcopalians on the other, who were favored by the proprietaries in the distribution of land and official power and emoluments; and although the firmness and prudence of Governor West prevented the discord of these parties from ripening into strife and confusion, it was beyond his power to eradicate the evil, or to restrain his own Council, which was composed of the leading Cavaliers, from treating the Puritans with insolence and contempt. The Cavalier party was reinforced by all those persons whom debauched habits and broken character and fortune had conducted to the province, not for a cure, but a shelter of their vices, and who regarded the austere manners of the Puritans with as much dislike as the Cavaliers entertained for their political principles. The adversaries of the Puritans, finding that it was in their power to shock and offend them by a social behavior opposed to their own, affected an extreme of gay and jovial license. Each party considered its manners as the test of its principles and emulously exaggerated the distinctive features of its appropriate demeanor; and an ostentatious competition ensued in which the ruling party gave countenance and encouragement to practices and habits very unfavorable to the prevalence of industry and the acquisition of wealth (Grahame, Colonial History o/ the United States, I. 389. London, 1827).
"If the complaint of the dissenters that Episcopacy," says a North Carolina historian, "had waited till the colony had increased in wealth and numbers, and there had come much of the spirit of proselytism and dictation, as the natural and favored church (Howe, History of the Presbyterian Church, 172), was not altogether without foundation, it must, on the other hand, be remembered that the founder of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina was but providentially cast upon the shores of the province, his coming having been neither of his own will nor in the instance of the members of his church. So, too, the Baptist minister had come as an exile driven from New England, seeking the religious indulgence promised in the Royal charter to those who could not conform to the church and thereby established. It remains, however, to the honor of the dissenters in the province, that, though themselves taxed to support the established church, they maintained their own churches by voluntary offerings in addition to the tax for religious purposes imposed by the government" (McCrady).
The years 1682 and 1683 were marked by considerable immigration. One body came from Ireland under Ferguson, another from Scotland, which was groaning under the barbarous administration of Lord Lauderdale. "But," says Mr. Grahame, "the most valuable addition to its population, which the colony now received, was supplied by the immigration of a considerable number of pious and respectable Dissenters from Somersetshire in England. This band of emigrants was led by Humphrey Blake, the brother and kin of the renowned Admiral Blake.…Humphrey Blake was a worthy, conscientious and liberal man; and willingly devoted his fortune to facilitate the retirement of a number of Dissenters, with whom he was connected, from the persecutions they endured in England, and the greater calamities they apprehended from the probable accession of the Duke of York to the throne" (Grahame, I.).
Among this number of "substantial persons," as they were called by Hewatt (History of South Carolina and Georgia, I. 140. London, 1779), was also Joseph Blake, the nephew of the Admiral, and the friend and trustee of Lord Berkeley, one of the Lord’s Proprietors. His wife, Lady Blake, and her mother, Lady Axtell, were valuable accessions to the infant Baptist church, and it is likely that Screven was a neighbor of theirs in England. Joseph Blake himself, if not a communicant, at least entertained the sentiments of the Baptists and favored their cause. He was twice subsequently Governor of the province; and his sister was the wife of Governor Morton, and the mother of Joseph Morton, who was a friend of liberty and voted against the establishment of the Church of England as the religion of the State (Hewatt, I.).
Joseph Blake, together with Paul Grimball, a Baptist, and five other persons, was a committee for revising the "Fundamental Constitutions" prepared by John Locke. It was during his second administration as Governor that the French Huguenot refugees, who had come in large numbers, in consequence of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, and the renewal of Roman Catholic persecution, received equal rights with those born of English parents.
The conflict upon the establishment of the Episcopal Church culminated in 1704, in the enactment of two laws. By one of these the dissenters were deprived of all civil rights; and the other was the Court of High Commission to try all ecclesiastical causes, and to enforce religious conformity in South Carolina. An appeal was made to Queen Anne and the House of Lords praying for a repeal of the obnoxious laws, and the punishment of the authors of them, affirming that "the law for forcing conformity to the Church of England in Carolina is an encouragement to atheism and irreligion, destructive to trade, and tends to ruin and depopulate the province." Whereupon the Queen issued an order declaring the laws null and void. From that period (1706) the dissenters had not the equality they had been led to expect, but simple toleration. In 1707 an act was passed for the establishment of religious worship according to the forms of the Church of England, the province was divided into ten parishes, and provision was made for building a church in each parish and for the endowment of its minister (Basil Manly, History of the First Baptist Church of Charleston).
In the year 1700 the Baptists of Charleston entered their new house of worship. At the same time they adopted their creed from that of the London creed ,of 1689. The introduction is as follows:
We, the Ministers and Messengers of, and concerned for, upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism) being met together in London from the third of the seventh month till the eleventh of the same 1889, to consider some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these Congregations, have thought meet (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us on the point of baptism) to recommend to their perusal the Confession of our Faith; printed for and sold by John Marshall, at the Bible in Grace Church Street. Which Confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice; and. do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith.
For half a century after the founding of the church in Charleston, that body stood alone, so far as any historic facts have been revealed in the South Colony. Their influence was felt. A letter has come to light which casts information on the situation. It is as follows, from William Orr, St. Paul’s Parish, September 30, 1742:
If the Society thought, proper to send me some few of Mr. Wall’s abridgement of the History of Infant Baptism and the best answer to Barclay’s Apology (if cheap and to be had on easy terms) to be distributed among the people, I believe they might be of great use. For as this country was at first settled in a great measure by Baptists and Quakers, so then descendants (tho’ they come to church now and then) yet they still retain, and are more or less under the influence of their Father’s Principles (Colonial Records of North Carolina, IV. 609).
There were in 1770, in all the province in addition to Charleston, but six other Baptist churches: Ashley River, Welsh Neck, Euhaw, Pipe Creek, Coosawatchie and Fairforest. By 1790 there were 66 churches with 46 ordained and 27 licensed preachers. This was principally owing to the labors of the New Light and Separate preachers from New England.
For sixty years Euhaw was a branch of the Charleston church. It was loath to give up this connection but in May, 1746, it was organized into an independent body. The first pastor was Francis Pelot, a man of ample fortune. He was a native of Switzerland, at first a Pedobaptist, but after he came to South Carolina he embraced Baptist principles. He became a distinguished man among South Carolina Baptists.
"So far back as the year 1685," says Thomas Curtis in a fine resume of the Baptists in Charleston, "William Screven, an ancestor of the respectable family of that name connected with the Baptist church in Liberty county., Georgia, driven from England by persecution, became the first pastor of the Charleston Church. Before the year 1700, he laid the foundation of the Old Church, on the site which the place of worship of the First Baptist Church now occupies. At this period, there was but one clergyman of the Church of England, and one of the established Church of Scotland, officiating in the city. To secure purity of doctrine, the Church subscribed what was called the Century Confession of the English Baptists—an outline of faith and practice which has expressed the principles of our body to the present day. Good William Screvin’s injunction to the people was, that they should remain ‘orthodox in the faith, and of blameless life’ (Be this perpetually the motto of both churches). Through six generations this body has freely chosen its own pastors; generally, and with increased liberality, maintained them, and voluntarily assumed all its pecuniary burdens. It has yielded a Botsford and a Stillman of Boston to other Churches, and many more than its own number of pastors to the State. It has once asserted a right to remove a minister for heresy, and a full and independent power always to discipline its own members. Blessings on the parent stock (we must pray in parting)-that has produced such, and so much fruit! It has survived, you see, the government and monarchy of England here; the war of the Revolution, by which it severely, for a time, suffered; all the wars of party spirit in Church and State, and the establishment of several more modern churches. Surely, its helper has been God. But without illiberality to other Church organizations, I would observe, here has been a long trial of the Voluntary System in religion!" (The Baptist Memorial and Christian Chronicle, 61, 62. February, 1844.)
Books for further reference:
Joshua Millet, History of the Baptists in Maine.
H. A. Tupper, Two Centuries of the First Baptist Church of South Carolina, 1883-1888. Baltimore, 1889.
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