History of the Old Baptist Chapel
This history has been written as a contribution to the commemoration of three hundred years of history by the Old Baptist Church Bradford on Avon.
For the first half of its history this church was known as the Baptist Church Bradford Wiltshire. The name Old Baptist has no denominational association but seems to have been assumed to distinguish the church from later Baptist churches which were formed in the town.
This history is intended to provide members of the church with a summary of their heritage and to make a wider public aware of the way in which the big issues of Dissent have been reflected in the life of a single church in a small town.
At some stage in the nineteenth century the church minute books prior to 1841 were lost. Their disappearance is a serious loss, but it has been possible to reconstruct the story from a variety of sources.
William Hawkins made use of the old minute books in a Brief History of the Baptist Church at Bradford Wilts, published in 1843. Extracts from them were also published in the Earthen Vessel magazine in 1891. The church has a full set of trust deeds and some trust accounts from the late eighteenth century as well as a register of births from 1776 to 1836. I have been able to consult the old minute book of Bourton on the Water Baptist church for early details of Richard Haynes and also the records of the Baptist Western Association from 1733-1744, both of which are deposited in the Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford.
I am grateful to Mr. R. F. Mawby of Bradford on Avon who drew my attention to John Plurett's will in the Wiltshire Record Office and has also been a fund of information on the area around the chapel. Dr. J. A. F. Thomson's The Later Lollards, (O.U.P. 1965) made me aware of the Lollard background to the Dissent of West Wiltshire. I would like to thank the many other people who have helped me with answers to my questions and also advice. My wife and family have helped in many different ways and as always the members of the church have given continual encouragement.