History of the Old Baptist Chapel
The Heyday of Nonconformity
The first thirty years of the nineteenth century were days of expansion for nonconformity in England with remarkable scenes of revival in certain areas.
Generally the nonconformist churches remained faithful to the doctrines upon which they were established. They concentrated on the main business of preaching the gospel. Their ministers were not greatly involved in politics nor had their members yet succumbed to the temptation to build chapels to look like Anglican churches. Such was their growing strength that the old penal legislation which had kept their members out of local and central government was swept away in 1828 without a great deal of fuss.
At the Old Baptist chapel the next pastor was James Barnett, who had been assistant minister at the Pithay church in Bristol and before that pastor of the church at Lymington Hants. He arrived in Bradford in May 1803 at a time when England was facing the threat of invasion by Napoleon. That threat passed but years of war followed during which there was great hardship in the country.
Barnett was ordained in 1805 after two years probation. Hawkins commented that 'he seems to have laboured usefully for ten years though enduring much contention'. Perhaps the hardships in the country strained relationships in the church. He resigned in 1815 the year of the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. He moved to London and joined the church at Eagle Street under the pastorate of the historian Joseph Ivimey. He continued to preach regularly in the London area.
In 1816 Joseph Seymour pastor of the church at Great Missenden, Bucks was called to the pastorate. He continued until 1824 when he accepted a call from a church at Thrapstone Northamptonshire. He was succeeded by a local man, Joseph Rodway pastor of the church at Grittleton. He served the church from 1824 to 1836, when he resigned.