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Dr. Robert Some, a noted Anglican, wrote against the Baptists of his day "that they insisted on maintaining all ministers of the gospel by the voluntary contributions of the people; that the civil powers has no right to make and impose ecclesiastical laws; that the people have the right to chose their own pastors; that the High Commission Court was an anti-Christian usurpation; that those qualified to preach ought not to be hindered by the civil power...that the baptism of Rome is invalid; that a gospel constitution and discipline are essential to a true church; and that the worship of God in the Church of England, is in many thing defective.  For these views they were accounted as heretics and suffered so severely from 1590 to 1630 we find but slight trace of Baptists in England during that period."
Name Date Denomination Reason for becoming a Baptist
The Lord Jesus Christ (in His humanity) 30 A.D. None Traveled to be baptized by the only person with God's authority to baptize, John the Baptist.
John Canne
Pastor, first to publish the English Bible with marginal references.
c.1621 Episcopal Well versed in the Scriptures, and zealous in the work of reformation, Canne united with the Baptists and became a pastor in London in 1621.  This church met secretly in private houses.  He only pastored for a short time when he was compelled to flee.  He returned in 1641 and founded the Broadmead (Baptist) church at Bristol.
Thomas Patient
One of the most prominent Baptists of his time.
c.1630s Congregational After becoming a Congregational minister Patient emigrated to America.  Meeting those who professed Baptist convictions, Patient re-examined the Scriptures pertinent to baptism.  He concluded that "infant's baptism had no foundation in Scripture."  Returning to England, because of persecution, he served as co-pastor with William Kiffin in London in 1640 and was one of the leaders who signed the Particular Baptist's Confession of Faith in 1644.
Hanserd Knollys
Pastor, signer of the Baptist Confession of Faith in 1643.
c.1630s Episcopal Knollys was ordained as a deacon, then a presbyter of the Church of England.  For 9 years he was a minister, but because he expressed antipedobaptist convictions he was stoned out of the pulpit.  He renounced his "holy orders" and declared the manner of ordination used among the Baptists.  Though persecuted from place to place he maintained his ministry, preaching publicly and from house to house.
Roger Williams
(British, American)
Founder of Rhode Island and first place in America of religious freedom.
c.1630s Episcopal, Congregational Williams found the religious yoke of the Church of England and the Congregational Church of New England too heavy a burden. Espousing the tenants of the Baptists, he escaped the authorities and spent the winter with the Indians.  Though his baptism lacked a proper administrator, Williams was the founder of the Providence Baptist church.
John Clarke
(British, American)
Physician, lawyer, statesman, diplomat, pastor/founder of first Baptist church in America.
c.1630s Episcopal, Puritan At what point Clarke became a Baptist is not clear.  He was likely exposed to Dutch Baptists at the Univ. of Leyden.  It is apparent that Baptist principles persuaded him to separate from the Puritans of New England.  According to records, Clarke was one who was relieved of his weapons by the Boston authorities in 1637 on suspicion of being "tinged with anabaptism."  Clarke founded the first Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island.
William Kiffin
Businessman, Pastor
"Father of the English Baptists."
pre 1640 Puritan
Kiffin was converted under the ministry of Puritan preachers.  He united with an Independent church in London.  Later he came to Baptist convictions and united with a Baptist church.
Though an advisor to the king he was arrested many times.  His 1st son died at 20.  His 2nd son was poisoned by a Catholic priest.  His daughter soon died, as did his wife.  His two grandsons were martyred for their faith.
Col. John & Lucy Hutchinson
Governor of Nottingham.
c.1640 Presbyterian Before the birth of their first child, the Hutchinsons began to examine the Scriptures concerning infant baptism.  They concluded that the Bible gave no warrant for infant baptism.  Finding and studying some Baptist soldiers' notes, Lucy confessed her faith in believer's baptism.  Her husband followed suit, professing Baptist principles as well.
Lady Deborah Moody
Early proponent of religious liberty for all.
pre 1642 Puritan Searched the Scriptures for the doctrine of infant baptism, but could not find it.
Henry Jessey
Pastor, scholar.
1645 Episcopal,
Jessey began as an Episcopalian priest.  In London he became pastor of a Congregational church.  During this time various groups of his congregation embraced Baptist principles and separated from his church.  After confering with other learned men, spending time in study and prayer he changed his position (1642) on the mode of baptism, and began immersing infants/children.  In 1644 he came to the position that infant baptism was unscriptural.  His fellow Congregational ministers could not prove him wrong.  In 1645 he was scripturally baptize by Hanserd Knollys and suffered great persecution as a Baptist. 
Henry Dunster
First president of Harvard College.
1648-1653 Church of England President Dunster reached the settle conviction that "visible believers only should be baptized," and that infant baptism was an invention of men.  He was forced to resign his office of President of Harvard.
Thomas Gould
c.1664 Congregational When he and his wife had a baby, but did not present the child for "baptism," the elders of the Congregational church met to admonish them.  Gould replied, "I do not see any rule of Christ for it, for the ordinance belongs to such as can make profession of their faith, as the Scripture doth plainly hold forth."  For his stand he was brought before various "courts" seven or eight times.  From the trials of Gould, the First Baptist Church of Boston came into existence.
John Comer
c.1720 Congregational Comer believed an intimate friend was wrong when he joined the Baptist church in Boston.  After debating with his friend and studying the subject of baptism, Comer changed his mind but kept silent about it.  The death of a friend and a violent storm at sea he was scripturally baptized and went on to pastor several Baptist churches in New England.
Shubal Stearns
Known as the "Apostle of North Carolina."
1751 Congregational,
Stearns received Christ under Whitefield's preaching, becoming a "New Light."  In 1751 he became convinced of believer's baptism, was baptized and ordained into the Baptist ministry.
Isaac Backus
Pastor, defender of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
1756 Cogregational Isaac Backus was converted because of the effects of the ministry of George Whitefield.  Though he became a Congregational minister, in 1748 he preached a sermon against infant baptism.  Though he did not openly espouse Baptist principles until 1756 for years he had been preaching and defending the ideals for which Baptists were noted.  Like many others, Backus deliberated for many years before publicly indentifying with the Baptists.  Backus went on to become a strong proponent of religious liberty.
Robert Robinson
Pastor, evangelist of Cambridge.
Author of "Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing."
1759 Church of England Saved under the preaching of Whitefield (1755), he was encouraged to enter the ministry of the Church of England, which he declined.  Upon attending the baptism of a child he took up a study of the subject and soon became a Baptist by conviction, receiving believer's baptism.  While on a preaching tour, he died at 54 years of age.  He was succeeded by the famed Robert Hall who wrote of Robinson, "His eloquence was the delight of every assembly, and his conversation the charm of every private circle.  In him was the erudition of the scholar, the discrimination of the historian, and the boldness of the reformer."
Dan Taylor
One of the founders of the Assembly of Free Grace General Baptists, evangelist, writer.
post 1761 Church of England & Methodist He delivered his first sermon in 1761, but his study of the Bible led him to request immersion from a Baptist minister.
Richard Major
Early colonial Baptist preacher.
1764 Presbyterian Born in 1722, he embraced Baptist principles in 1766.
Rev. Eliaphalet Smith
1770 Presbyterian He had become convinced that believer's baptism by immersion only is a divine institution.  He and a number of his Presbyterian members were immersed and he formed them into a Baptist church.
Benjamin Foster
Pastor, theologian.
c.1772 Congregational At Yale, Foster was asked to defend infant sprinkling.  He carefully searched the Scriptures and studied the history of the church.  When the day for discussion arrived, he declared himself a convert to the doctrine of believer's baptism. Only those who profess faith in Christ are correct subjects and the mode is immersion.  Foster was one of the most learned men of his day.
William Hickman
Baptist pioneer to Kentucky
pre 1773 Episcopal Though unconverted, Hickman attended Baptist preaching and a baptism in Virginia, which greatly affected him.  After moving to Kentucky his wife was converted, which caused him to study the validity of infant baptism.  He reached the conclusion that infant baptism was not taught in the Bible.  He was converted in 1773. 
Thomas Baldwin
Pastor, writer, editor and apologist.
1781 Unknown Baldwin was saved through the influence of two Baptist preachers that were in his area.  Though he struggled with the subject of baptism, having been educated among the pedobaptists, he became convinced of their error and followed the Lord in believer's baptism in 1781.
Eliakim Marshall
1786 Congregational, Separatist Marshall's cousin, Baptist pastor Abraham Marshall, traveled to Conn. to settle his father's estate.  As the guest of Eliakim the subject of baptism came up and soon Eliakim was convinced of believer's baptism, despite his wife's opposition.  He soon united with a Separatist church, but still had not been immersed.  In a sermon at which Abraham was present, Eliakim repudiated infant baptism and presented himself for believer's baptism.  The following day Abraham preached his ordination as a Baptist preacher.  From 1786 until his death in 1791 he served a Baptist church in Conn.
Christmas Evans
1788 Presbyterian Wishing to expose the Anabaptists (as he called them), he related, "Having read the New Testament through, I found not a single verse in favor of infant sprinkling, while about forty passages seemed to testify clearly for baptism on a profession of faith."  In 1788 Evans was immersed in the River Duar and united to a Baptist church.  Evans was the outstanding Welsh preacher and perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher that Great Britain ever produced.
Benjamin Titcomb
Founded first Baptist Church of Portland, Maine
c. 1790 Congregational After marriage and 13 children, Benjamin began studying the subject of baptism. He became convinced that neither he nor his family had been scripturally baptized. He resigned from the Congregational church, requesting baptism of the Baptist church in North Yarmouth.
James Tanner
(American; half white, half Shawnee)
Took the Gospel to the Indians of the Dakota Territory.
c.1800s Methodist After careful Bible study, Tanner became a Baptist.  During a severe winter, he walked to the nearest Baptist church, possibly in St. Paul, in order to be scripturally baptized.
Alexander Carson
Pastor, theologian, writer.
c.1800 Presbyterian He began as a Presbyterian minister in Ireland with a salary of 100 pounds per year.  He was a Greek scholar, and could have become Professor of Greek in the Univ. of Glasgow, but he gradually adopted Baptist principles.  He gave up his church and salary to gather a small group of Baptists in a church with no meetinghouse.  He endured deep poverty, yet was the leading scholar among Baptists of his day.  His work on baptism is still read today.

Rev. Daniel Merrill
Sedgwick Maine
1805 Congregational When several of his Bible students became Baptists, the Rev. Daniel Merrill determined to restudy baptism and write a book to stop the loss of students.  After 2 years of study he realized that the Bible did not support infant baptism and/or sprinkling.  For several months Merrill continued in agony of heart for, as he confessed, he "could not bear the idea of being called a Baptist."  But God overruled and on Feb. 28, 1805 his congregation voted to call for New Testament immersion and to be constituted a Baptist church.  In May 85 candidates were immersed and the Baptist church formed.
Robert & James Alexander Haldane
Evangelists, philanthropists, writers.
1808 Independents During his life, Robert paid the cost of educating 300 ministers of the Gospel at his expense.  When several of these ministers, after much study, were immersed and became Baptists, the Haldane brothers investigated the subject as well.  Ultimately both brothers were immersed and became Baptists.
John Mason Peck
"God's Ambassador to the Mississippi Valley."
1811 Unknown When blessed with their first child, the Pecks hesitated to have the baby sprinkled.  They began in earnest to study the Scriptures for spiritual light and decided that the Bible did not teach infant baptism.  Moving to New York they adapted Baptist principles and were baptized by immersion. 
Adoniram Judson
Second American foreign missionary (Burma).
1812 Congregational Having been sprinkled as an infant, "...I could find nothing that looked like sprinkling, in connection with the ordinance of Baptism.  In regard to the word itself which is translated baptism, a very little search convinced me that its plain, appropriate meaning was immersion..."
Ann (Hasseltine) Judson
First wife of Adroniram Judson.
1812 Congregational "Thus...we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wished to be, but because truth compelled us to be..."
Luther Rice
Pastor, evangelist
1812 Congregational Sailing to Burma with Judson, but on different ships, Rice came to the same conclusion from studying the Scriptures, that the Baptists views were correct on the subject of baptism.
John Taylor Jones
Missionary to Burma, Siam.
1828 Congregational Though he made a profession of faith in a Congregational church, Jones experienced a change in his thinking during his theological studies on the mode and subjects of baptism.  This led to his baptism and membership in a Baptist church in Boston.  In 1831 he and his wife left for Burma.  He was soon drawn to the people of Siam (Thailand) where he completed a translation of the New Testament in the Siamese language.
Joseph Getchell Binney
Missionary to Burma.
1830 Congregational At Yale College he was invited to debate on the subject of "baptism."  Young Binney became convinced with careful study that only believer's immersion was taught in the Bible.  He was baptized and united with a Baptist church.  From this time began the cycle of his life:  go to Burma (1843), return with broken health; go to Burma (1859), return with broken health; go to Burma (1877), die at sea.
James Hickey
(Irish, American)
Missionary to Mexico
"The Apostle of Mexico."
1830 Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Independents While at a Catholic college for priests, Hickey was confronted with the immorality and drunkenness of the teachers and other students. Under the influence of his aunt and Christian girlfriend he left the Roman Catholic church and entered a school of the Anglican Church.  Finding the same problems there, he joined himself to the Independents.  In 1830 he began his work in America, and came to embrace Baptist principles.  At the outbreak of the Civil war he moved to Mexico, where, in 1864 he organized the First Baptist Church of Monterrey, the first evangelical church in Mexico.
One of his converts wrote, "Let his name be embalmed, and his memory dear to all who rejoice that Mexico first heard the Gospel from Baptist lips."
Johann Onchen
"Apostle of the German Baptists."
1834 Lutheran & English Reformed Church When his wife gave birth to their first child, he began to wonder about having the infant christened.  As he studied God's Word, Onchen became convinced that there was no authority in Scripture for infant baptism.  He accepted believer's baptism as the true New Testament teaching.  It was five years before he met an American Baptist that could perform scriptural baptism.  From this group came the first Baptist church of modern time in Germany.
Milo P. Jewett
College professor, pastor, first president of Vassar College, author, established the Judson Female Institute of Alabama
1839 Presbyterian When one of his elders became a Baptist the session requested that Jewett preach on baptism.  He determined to go into an original investigation of the whole matter, proceeding just as if I had never heard or read anything on either side...seeking after the mind of Christ. 
"...I was compelled to admit, as a philologist and interpreter of the Bible, that immersion, and that only, is the baptism which Christ enjoins.
Afterwards I took up infant baptism...I was obliged, in the fear of God, to conclude that none but believers in Jesus have a right to the ordinance of Jesus."
In Jan. of 1839 Jewett was baptized and united with the Baptist church in Marietta.
William Cathcart
(Irish, American)
Pastor, author of The Baptist Encyclopedia.
1846 Presbyterian As a young man of 19, Cathcart became convinced of believer's immersion and was thus baptized in 1846.  He went on to serve Baptist churches on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fredrick Ludwig Rymker
Missionary to Denmark and Norway, editor, pastor.
"Pioneer of the Baptist work in Norway."
pre 1848 Unknown After sailing to N.Y., he was invited by a friend to the Mariner's Baptist Church in N.Y. where he found Christ.  A year later he was scripturally immersed into the membership.  In 1850 he was sent as a missionary to Denmark, then to Norway where he was spent for Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Pastor, writer.
"Prince of Preachers"
1850 Congregational Saved in a Primitive Methodist Church at age 16.  Was baptized by Rev. W.W. Cantlow (Baptist) after asking his parents permission to be immersed. 
Some time later his mother said, "Ah, Charles! I often prayed the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist."
Charles replied, "Ah mother!  The Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceeding abundantly above what you asked or thought."
Andreas Wiberg
Founder and builder of the Baptist movement in Sweden.
1852 Lutheran In 1843 Wiberg was ordained a Lutheran minister, but he soon became dissatisfied with admitting the unconverted to the Lord's Supper.
In 1851 he visited Germany, meeting J.G. Oncken and the work of the Baptists.  Upon leaving Germany he was given  "Pengilly on Baptism" and on full examination, he adopted Baptist principles.  There was no one in Sweden to immerse Wiberg, but when his ship was detained in Copenhagen he met a Baptist preacher who baptized him.
Gustaf Palmquist
Pastor, Establisher of the first Swedish Baptist church in America.
1852 Lutheran In Sweden there was a group of believers attempting to escape persecution.  They asked Palmquist to become their pastor and accompany them to America.  But once in New York he found his flock scattered over to wide an area to minister to.  He traveled westward to Ill., ministering to his countrymen wherever he found them.
Attending a revival taking place in the Baptist church at Galesburg, Palmquist had the seed of Baptist doctrine planted in his heart.  In 1852 he was baptized by immersion and soon after ordained by the Galesburg Baptist church.
Edward Miles Jerome
Pastor, evangelist, writer.
c.1854 Congregational A lawyer and businessman by trade, Jerome became persuaded that Baptist principles and doctrine were biblical.
John W. Hendry
Pastor, itinerant preacher on the west coast of Florida.
c.1860s Methodist Hendry was saved at a Methodist camp meeting and soon felt a call to preach.  In studying the Scriptures he came to the conclusion that the doctrines and practices of the Methodist church were in conflict with what he understood to be the plain teachings of the Word of God.  "He felt that he was unbaptized and altogether in a wrong position."  Attending a small Baptist church in the area he was received and baptized, soon becoming pastor of this same church. 
Richard H. Whitehead
Pastor, itinerant preacher on the west coast of Florida.
c.1860s Presbyterian Whitehead was converted at a Presbyterian meeting in Mississippi, but after his conversion he offered himself to a little Baptist church, was received and baptized.  There is no record of the events leading to Whitehead's conversion to Baptist principles, but he pastored various Baptist churches the rest of his life.
George Grenfell
"Congo's Pioneer and Explorer."
pre1873 Church of England In his youth was attracted to the Sunday school of the Heneage St. Baptist Church and soon became involved with other young men in Christian service.  He entered Bristol Baptist College in 1873.
Henry Novotny
"The Bohemian Judson."
1885 Roman Catholic, Protestant & Congregational Accepted believer's baptism under the influence of a Baptist from Bavaria.  He was immersed under the authority of the largest Baptist church on the continent.
John Holcombe
Pastor, author.
c.1885 Presbyterian After receiving Christ during his Civil War service, his father informed him that he had been baptized as a Presbyterian.  After searching the Scriptures he concluded, "...to follow the dictates of conscience, I must be a Baptist..."  He then rode 20 miles to a Baptist church to present himself as a candidate for baptism and membership.
Dr. A. T. Pierson
Theologian, Bible expositor, writer, pastor.
1896 Congregational & Presbyterian While filling the pulpit at Metropolitan Tabernacle he was slowly adopting Baptist views, especially concerning baptism.  Responding to the Philadelphia Presbytery he wrote, "Had I this action to take again I would only do it more promptly...my only motive could be a desire 'to fulfill all righteousness'..."
George and Ethel Birch
Missionaries to India.
c.1925 Prebyterian The Birch's were godly Presbyterian missionaries to India, but because of recurring malaria they returned to the U.S.  Their son, John, was born in India in 1918.  After returning to the U.S. the Birch's discovered liberalism in their denomination and began attending a Baptist church, where they were immersed. 
John was raised a Baptist and at an early age felt the call of God to missionary service.  A mentally gifted student, John sailed to China in 1940, and learned the language in 1 year.  He served as a missionary and, later, as an intelligence officer for the U.S. Army, rescuing American pilots that went down in China.  He was murdered by the Chinese communists on August 25, 1945 after WWII had ended.
This historical information was culled from "This Day in Baptist History," by David Cummins and E. Wayne Thompson.