Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists (4 vols. London, 1738-1740); D. Masson, Life of John Milton in Connexion with the History of his Time (6 vols. 1859-1880, new ed. 1881, etc.); B. Evans, The Early English Baptists, i. ii. (1862-1864); H. C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists (London, 1897); A. H. Newman, A Manual of Church History (Philadelphia, 1900-1903); R. Heath, Anabaptism (1895); C. Williams, The Principles and Practices of the Baptists (1903); E. C. Pike, The Story of the Anabaptists (1904); J. H. Shakespeare, Baptist and Congregational Pioneers; J. G. Lehmann, Geschichte der deutschen Baptisten (1896-1900); G. Tumbült, Die Wiedertäufer (Bielefeld, 1899); The Baptist Handbook (annually); The Baptist World Congress, 1905; The Religious Census of London (1904).
(N. H. M.)
4. United States of America. - The first Baptist Church in America was that founded in the Providence settlement on Narragansett Bay under the leadership of Roger Williams (q.v.). Having been sentenced to banishment (October 1635) by the Massachusetts Court because of his persistence in advocating separatistic views deemed unsettling and dangerous, to escape deportation to England he betook himself (January 1636) to the wilderness, where he was hospitably entertained by the natives who gave him a tract of land for a settlement. Having been joined by a few friends from Massachusetts, Williams founded a commonwealth in which absolute religious liberty was combined with civil democracy. In the firm conviction that churches of Christ should be made up exclusively of regenerate members, the baptism of infants appeared to him not only valueless but a perversion of a Christian ordinance. About March 1639, with eleven others, he decided to restore believers' baptism and to form a church of baptized believers. Ezekiel Holliman, who had been with him at Plymouth and shared his separatist views, first baptized Williams and Williams baptized the rest of the company. Williams did not long continue to find satisfaction in the step he had taken.
Believing that the ordinances and apostolic church organization had been lost in the general apostasy, he became convinced that it was presumptuous for any man or company of men to undertake their restoration without a special divine commission. He felt compelled to withdraw from the church and to assume the position of a seeker. He continued on friendly terms with the Baptists of Providence, and in his writings he expressed the conviction that their practice came nearer than that of other communities to the first practice of Christ.
In November 1637 John Clarke (1609-1676), a physician, of religious zeal and theological acumen, arrived at Boston, where, instead of the religious freedom he was seeking, he found the dominant party in the Antinomian controversy on the point of banishing the Antinomian minority, including Mrs Anne Hutchinson (q.v.) and her family, John Wheelwright (c. 1592-1679), and William Coddington (1601-1678). Whether from sympathy with the persecuted or aversion to the persecutors, he cast in his lot with the former and after two unsuccessful attempts at settlement assisted the fugitives in forming a colony on the island of Aquidnek (Rhode Island), procured from the Indians through the good offices of Williams. By 1641 there were, according to John Winthrop, "professed Anabaptists" on the island, and Clarke was probably their leader. Robert Lenthall, who joined the Newport company in 1640 when driven from Massachusetts, probably brought with him antipaedobaptist convictions. Mrs Scott, sister of Mrs Hutchinson, is thought to have been an aggressive antipaedobaptist when the colony was founded.
Mark Lucar, who was baptized by immersion in London in January 1642 (N.S.) and was a member of a Baptist church there, reached Newport about 1644. A few years later we find him associated with Clarke as one of the most active members of the Newport church, and as the date of the organization is uncertain, there is some reason to suspect that he was a constituent member, and that as a baptized man he took the initiative in baptizing and organizing. At any rate we have in Lucar an interesting connecting link between early English and American Baptists.
The Providence church maintained a rather feeble existence after Williams's withdrawal, with Thomas Olney (d. 1682), William Wickenden, Chad Brown (d. 1665) and Gregory Dexter as leading members. A schism occurred in 1652, the last three with a majority of the members contending for general redemption and for the laying on of hands as indispensable to fellowship, Olney, with the minority, maintaining particular redemption and rejecting the laying on of hands as an ordinance. Olney's party became extinct soon after his death in 1682. The surviving church became involved in Socinianism and Universalism, but maintained a somewhat vigorous life and, through Wickenden and others, exerted considerable influence at Newport, in Connecticut, New York and elsewhere. Dexter became, with Williams and Clarke, a leading statesman in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
The Newport church extended its influence into Massachusetts, and in 1649 we find a group of Baptists at Rehoboth, with Obadiah Holmes as leader. The intolerance of the authorities rendered the prosecution of the work impracticable and these Massachusetts Baptists became members of the Newport church. In 1651 Clarke, Holmes and Joseph Crandall of the Newport church made a religious visit to Lynn, Mass. While holding a meeting in a private house they were arrested and were compelled to attend the church services of the standing order. For holding an unlawful meeting and refusing to participate quietly in the public service they were fined, imprisoned and otherwise maltreated. While in England on public business in 1652, Clarke published Ill News from New England, which contained an impressive account of the proceedings against himself and his brethren at Lynn, and an earnest and well-reasoned plea for liberty of conscience.