Correcting Mistakes, Part 1

Correcting Mistakes, Part 1

by Oscar Burdick


The writing of the English section of Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America1 has been plagued with errors. Once something is published it is easy to assume everything is true! When volumes one and two were published, a review said, “…much critical work [needs] to be done on the English sections.”2 The English sections are so bad that anyone using them is urged to first get the current list of corrections from the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society (available on our website under “Resources”).

Even non-SDB writers are not immune from mistakes/assumptions. The mistakes are not confined to dates. The following is a sampling of errors, but one is urged to get the SDB Historical Society’s larger list.3


  • •About early Sabbath proponent Theophilus Brabourne’s relationship to Seventh Day Baptists:

Theophilus Brabourne’s many books for the Seventh Day were influential, but he always remained a priest in the Church of England.

  • •About James Ockford’s book, The Doctrine of the Fourth Commandment:

Now that a copy of Ockford’s first book has been found, the publication date is 1650.

  • •About the Mumfords coming to America as SDB missionaries from London: In 1661 John Cowell and a few others of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, Baptist Church became Seventh Day Sabbath observers. Among the 1663 members were Stephen Mumford and Sister Mumford who arrived in Rhode Island early in 1665. That the Mumfords came as missionaries from the Bell Lane SDB church in London has been disproved by a May 26, 1668 letter from Bell Lane to Rhode Island.4 The Mumfords’ Sabbath observing clearly led five Newport, RI First Baptist Church members to the Seventh Day. Tension became so great that these five separated from that church in 1671. Soon with the Mumfords they formed the first SDB church in America with seven members. (It is clear now that the Mumfords did not join First Baptist.)
  • •John James, who was hanged and quartered November 27 (not 26), 1661, was not a religious martyr but a political one. William Saller (not John James) appears to have been the pastor of the Saller-Soursbey-Mill Yard SDB Church in London from some time at least by 16575 until his death; his will was proved in 1681. The death date of 1713 is that of William Saller, Jr., his nephew. James’ church (1661) with its Fifth Monarchy flavor is like the Bell Lane Church which was Fifth Monarchy; James’ church and Bell Lane appear not to be in the Mill Yard sequence.
  • •Nathan Bailey (the famous lexicographer) and Mill Yard Church parted ways about 1712; he did not die a member of that congregation. His major work was published after his departure from Mill Yard.
  • •About the previously supposed existence of an SDB group in Norweston, Oxfordshire:

Norweston, Oxfordshire is a misunderstanding of Norwalson [Norwalsom]; it should be Ingham, Norfolk, near Northwalsham, Norfolk. With the discovery that Buckinghamshire was a separate Seventh Day church, this means that there were nine churches outside of London to be aided by the Joseph Davis trust.

  • •The supposed existence of a book titled Luther Proved Lyar by English SDBs seems to come from misreading handwriting referring to a Thomas Tillam book title, The Lasher Proved Lyar. An anonymous book about Luther by English SDBs with a similar title is not known to exist.


1 “The Sabbath in the British Isles,” in Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America (Plainfield, NJ: Printed for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference by the American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910-72), 1:19-115.

2 Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society, 2 (1910-11), 126.

3 Available by mail or on the Historical Society’s Website:

4 “…although unknown to you by face…” Protestant Sentinel 2/44 (February 15, 1832, 173).

5 As proved by sections of Thomas Tillam’s The Seventh Day… (London, 1657) 50-51.

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