Old Baptist Chapel

History of the Old Baptist Chapel

The Pastorate of Richard Haynes 1750-1768

The next pastor Richard Haynes came from Burford in Oxfordshire and was a member of the church at Bourton on the Water, then under the pastorate of the Baptist hymn writer Benjamin Beddome.

Haynes had been baptized at Bourton on 15th May 1741 and his parents had been members of that church before him. Within a few years he began to preach and in 1747 was set aside for the Christian ministry.

When the Bourton church transferred him to Bradford in March 1750 they explained that they had hoped that he would stay amongst them, 'but consulting the wants of our sister church at Bradford, the universal acceptance he meets with amongst you and the great blessing God has vouchsafed to his labours We are well pleased that he has at length complied with your call to be your pastor'.

Few details of his pastorate remain. Hawkins records, 'He was ordained on the 25th April, 1750. He appears to have been sound in the faith and consistent in discipline. His ministry was greatly honoured for eighteen years, when he suddenly died, having been called from earth to heaven while at his dinner on the 17th May, 1768.'

The last year of Richard Haynes's life had been particularly encouraging as twenty-four new members had been added to the church. A number of men were called into the Christian ministry during Richard Haynes's pastorate. Among these was Charles Cole who was later pastor for fifty-four years at Whitchurch, Hampshire and also a hymn writer.

Cole was born just over the county boundary at Wellow, but lost both his parents in a smallpox epidemic when he was only six years old. He eventually became a broadcloth weaver and moved to Freshford. He was a zealous churchman, but curiosity drew him to a baptismal service which Haynes was conducting in the open river. From this time he was drawn to Haynes's ministry, but experienced a severe struggle as his route to the meeting house took him through the churchyard and his old habit often drew him in.

Increasingly unhappy he declared that being 'starved out, he was obliged to go to seek relief for his mind'. Eventually he was converted and baptized in February 1756. In 1758 he was called to the ministry and in the same year received a call to Whitchurch, where he exercised a very fruitful ministry for over half a century.

Other men called to the ministry from Bradford at this time were Robert Marshman, pastor at Westbury Leigh from 1763 to 1806 and John Mathews who was called to serve the church at Melksham in 1767. Sadly Mathews died in the same year after contracting smallpox while visiting Portsmouth to collect funds for a new meeting house in Melksham.

Haynes left 100 to be invested and directed that the interest should be paid annually to the ministers of the Baptist churches at Bradford, Westbury Leigh and Whitchurch. He left another 300 to be used in the same way for the benefit of the ministers of the churches at Malmesbury and Melksham. He also bequeathed his set of John Gill's Commentary for the use of the minister of the Bradford church. This set, a first edition subscription work, is still in the care of the Bradford church.

In addition to Haynes's bequests, the church received other legacies and in 1758 bought property in Bush's Alley, now St. Margaret's Place. They bought at least one house and built others at this time. The house which was bought has often been the home of the minister in later years.

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