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writing in 1813, after prolonged travels among his co-religionists, says: “ From the many observations I have made on the spread of Baptist principles, I am inclined to think, that without counting that class in Massachusetts and Connecticut, who hang to the denomination merely by certificates, we may reckon seven adherents to one communicant.” According to this estimate, the five thousand Virginia Baptist members in 1774 would find themselves supported by an army of thirty-five thousand sympathizers in a total population of probably 400,000 free inhabitantsabout one in every ten. That estimate seems high. But taking two-thirds or even one-half of this number as a correct estimate,as we can easily understand the politico-relig


67 David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination, Boston, 1813, vol. ii, p. 553.

** Note on Population of Virginia and Number of Baptists. It is not possible to do more than approximate the number of people in Virginia at this time. The “ Virginia Almanac" for 1776 gives (p. 2) “An estimate of the number of souls in the following provinces, made in Congress, September, 1774: In Massachusetts

400,000 New Hampshire

150,000 Rhode Island

59,678 Connecticut

192,000 New York

250,000 New Jersey

130,000 Pennsylvania

350,000 Maryland

320,000 Virginia

650,000 North Carolina

300,000 South Carolina


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-3,026,678 Leland says in his Virginia Baptist Chronicle, which was published in Virginia in 1790, “ Mr. Jefferson says, that in 1782, there were in this State 567,614 inhabitants, of every age, sex and condition. Of which 296,852 were free, and 270,762 were slaves. Mr. Randolph, in 1788, stated the round numbers .. (at) 588,000. These gentlemen had both official accounts being both governors of Virginia, but the returns from the counties are imperfect, and from some counties no returns at all are made to the executive." The census report of 1790 gives the number for Virginia as: free whites, 442,117; other free persons, 12,863; slaves, 292,627; total,


ious agitation that now began. “So favorable did their prospects appear,” says Semple," that towards the close of the year 1774, they began to entertain serious hopes, not



747,610. The population would be likely to decrease during the Revolutionary War because of the war, and still more, both during and after the war, because of the rapid emigration to Kentucky.

The number of Baptists likewise can only be approximated. Leland says:

“There were a few Baptists in Virginia before the year 1760, but they did not spread so as to be taken notice of by the people, much less by the rulers, till after that date.”

The churches increased in number from eighteen in 1770 to about ninety in 1776, and it seems altogether probable that the number of members was not far from as large then as it was for some years afterwards, owing to the constant emigration to Kentucky.

In 1790, Leland says there were “i General Committee; Il associations; 202 churches; 150 ministers; 20,000 members."a

Rippon's Baptist Register, under the heading A View of the Baptist Associations, etc., in the United States of America and Vermont for October, 1790” (p. 72), gives the following table of Associations and the comment thereon:

Ministers Churches Members Ketocton*

650 Chappawamsic*

7 14 850 Orange District*

32 4600 Dover District*

36 26

5100 Lower District and Kehukee*..

45 51 5500 Middle District*

24 25 2000
Roanoke and North Carolina*.. 18 18 2200
S. Kentucky*

15 14 I 200
N. Kentucky


300 The nine associations in the above list marked with asterisks meet in a General Committee by their representatives at Richmond in the month of May annually. Due allowance being made for North Carolina, North Kentucky and Ohio in this list, the results conform fairly to the estimate of Leland.

Semple says: “ Asplund's Register for 1791, soon after the great revival, makes the number of Baptists 20,439 in Virginia.” b

Benedict, after prolonged travel and consideration of the subject, thinks (1860) that “in 1800 there were only about 80,000 Baptists in North America and about 20,000 in Virginia.”




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A more recent authority still, Armitage (1887), concludes that as nearly as we can get at the figures, there were but 97 Baptist

b Semple, 446.

a Leland, Writings, 117.
c Benedict, Fifty Years among Baptists.

only of obtaining liberty of conscience, but of actually overturning the Church establishment, from whence all their oppressions had arisen. Petitions for this purpose were



churches in all the colonies in 1770. ... in 1784 our total membership in the thirteen colonies was only about 35,000 ”; a and that: "We find that while the first Church was planted in that Colony (Virginia) in 1714, in 1793 there were in the State 227 churches, 272 ministers, 22,793 communicants, and 14 associations.”' b

Semple closes his estimate of the number—thirty-one thousand and fifty-two-of Baptists in Virginia at the time of his writing (1809), by saying: The increase in nineteen years (since 1790) is more than fifty per cent. During this period it has been supposed that over one-fourth of the Baptists of Virginia have moved to Kentucky and other parts of the western country.”. And Semple remarks elsewhere: “It is questionable with some whether half of the Baptist preachers who have been raised in Virginia have not emigrated to the western country.” This emigration westward is the subject of constant remark by the Baptist writers of the times. Lewis Craig went to Kentucky in 1781. “In removing from Virginia,” says Taylor, “he had taken with him most of the members of the Upper Spottsylvania, since called Craig's church. This was the oldest and most flourishing body of baptized believers between James and Rappahannock rivers. ... The pastor and flock, numbering about two hundred members, and called by John Taylor the travelling church,' commenced their long toilsome journey. The whole, embracing children and servants, numbered nearly four hundred." e Rev. Lewis Lunsford, in a letter under date of March 11, 1793, written after his return from Kentucky, says: “ The emigration to that country is incredible.” f

In view of the number of churches in 1776, in view also of the estimates cited and of the continuous emigration to Kentucky, it seems probable that there were at the end of 1775 something like 10,000 Baptist members in Virginia, and that the number rapidly rose to about 20,000 and remained near those figures till the end of the century. This is a mere guess, however. The estimate as to churches is likewise a guess. It is based on Semple's tables, which in turn are based on Asplund's Register, in part, on Fristoe's History, and on the Association records. But Semple gives names not found in Fristoe for the corresponding period, and he omits

a Thos. Armitage, History of the Baptists, N. Y., 1887, p. 776. b Thos. Armitage, History of Baptists, 735. c Semple, 446. a Semple, 172.

e J. B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, First Series, 3d ed., N. Y., 1860, 89.

f Taylor, ibid., 142.


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accordingly drawn and circulated with great industry. Vast numbers, readily, and indeed, eagerly, subscribed to them." Thenceforward, the Baptists pursued the Church Establishment with a vindictive hatred that is repellent, however natural it may have been, and however glad we may be that the Establishment was finally destroyed.

The cause of this hatred has already been stated in part. We have seen that a strong social element was one of the formative influences of the Baptist organization at this particular time. That it is easy for the upper class of society to misunderstand and despise those below, and for the lower class to hate those above, has been abundantly shown in history before and since the French Revolution." At this early time very few of the Baptists belonged to the aristocratic, office-holding class which filled the county courts, which furnished the members of the parish vestries, and which, therefore, levied taxes upon these, their poor neighbors, for the support of an official church grossly neglectful of its sacred duties. This class feeling was increased by the Established clergy, themselves members of the upper class in virtue of their position and in so many cases unworthy of either class or position.

What Semple says on this subject is but the common testimony of the times: “The great success and rapid increase of the Baptists in Virginia, must be ascribed primarily to the power of God working with them. Yet it cannot be

names found in Fristoe. The absence of the date of foundation of so many churches in his tables renders the matter still more confused and confusing; and finally he himself complains despairingly, Churches used so often to change their names that it is now really difficult to identify an old church.” To this may be added, that churches seemed to be abandoned and to be revived in a manner beyond the calculus of probabilities. An approximation seems to be as near as we can come to the fact; but the fact was very substantial.

Semple, 25. Let whoever would better understand this social clas attitude of the middle of the XVIII Century read-and read between the lines-Fielding's “Tom Jones," as well as The Spectator," and Goldsmith.




denied but that there were subordinate and cooperating causes; one of which, and the main one, was the loose and inimoral deportment of the established clergy, by which the people were left almost destitute of even the shadow of true religion. 'Tis true, they had some outward forms of worship, but the essential principles of Christianity were not only not understood among them, but by many, never heard of. Some of the cardinal precepts of morality were disregarded, and actions plainly forbidden by the New Testament were often proclaimed by the clergy harmless and innocent, or at least foibles of but little account. Having no discipline, every man followed the bent of his own inclination. It was not uncommon for the rectors of parishes to be men of the loosest morals. The Baptist preachers were in almost every respect the reverse of the Established clergy. The Baptist preachers were without learning, without patronage, generally very poor, very plain in their dress, unrefined in their manners, and awkward in their address; all of which, by their enterprising zeal and unwearied perseverance, they either turned to advantage or prevented their ill effects. On the other hand, most of the ministers of the Establishment were men of classical and scientific education, patronized by men in power, connected with great families, supported by competent salaries, and put into office by the strong arm of civil power. Thus pampered and secure, the men of this order were rolling on the bed of luxury when the others began their extraordinary career. Their learning, riches, power, etc., seemed only to hasten their overthrow by producing an unguarded heedlessness, which is so often the prelude to calamity and downfall.”

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71 Semple, 25-26. Leland had already twenty years before Semple made substantially the same statement as to Baptist preachers. He speaks of “the rarity of mechanics and planters preaching such strange things,” and adds in a note, “To this day (1790) there are not more than three or four Baptist ministers in Virginia, who have received the diploma of M. A., which is additional proof

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