The Particular <or Strict> Baptist Society

The Society of Baptists first appeared in Saxony in A.D. 1521 and made its appearance in London in 1608. The formation of the Society in Sutton seems due to William Woolhouse, but was more or less dormant till the earnest preaching of Abraham Booth, aroused it. He was a frame- work-knitter and kept a day school at Sutton-in-Ashfield, walking regularly to Nottingham and back in the exercise of his ministerial office there. He became famous as the author of a book called " The Reign of Grace," and was a constant preacher about A.D. 1760. In the Register of Kirkby Church appears the marriage of Abraham Booth to Elizabeth Bowmar, 10 December, 1757. An Abraham Booth, of Huth- waite made a Will dated 5 November, 1734 leaving " to my second son Abraham a farm called Twinyards belonging to Edward Dawes, of Kirkby, lying in the parish of Blackwell." In 1825 Mr. William Booth, of Annesley Woodhouse be- queathed his house and garden for the use of the chapel there, and the sum of £928 to be distributed, int. al. £5 to the Particular Baptist Minister of Sutton-in-Ashfield : but what, if any, relation to Abraham Booth the preacher does not appear.

In accordance with the Declaration of Indulgence of A.D. 1672, extending liberty of Worship to those who were conscientiously opposed to the Church of England, enabling Licences to be granted to persons and places for the purpose of holding religious services, one was granted to William Woolhouse, and at the same time one was granted to the Inde- pendents.

The early records of this Society have unfortunately disappeared, the only authentic Register of the Baptist Church, Sutton-in-Ashfield, dating 1770, the earlier part having been taken (or copied from fragmentary evidence) by J. Burton, the Minister, probably. It is of rag-made paper, bound in parchment, sixteen and a quarter inches high, and six inches wide, having on its title page :




Novit Dominus eos qui sunt sui.

The Lord knoweth them that are his

Taken by J. Burton—Minister.

The first two pages give the names of persons dying who were buried in our Meeting House Yard, the next page minutes relating to Church matters, and to the purchase of land for building upon, and then follows the List of Church members. Edward Briggs of Stanton joined this Church as Member hereof and Minister.

Peter Fletcher Abraham Birks Wm. Earp
Mary Hickton John Hickton Eliz. Tealor
James Bosley Mary Jepson Isaac Beardsmore
Hannah Unwin Richard Farns- Mary Tealor
worth, Deacon
Alice Bayley Ann Nickalson Phebe Hardwick
Eliz. Briggs Daniel Jesse Joseph Earp
Eliz. Greaves John Whitehead Eliz. Ward
Joseph Hickton Saml. Stenson Joseph Wharmby
Mary Beardmore Matthew Wright Joseph Radford
Sarah Wright ThomasBeardsmore Ann Wharmby

This Register and Minute Book is a sacred treasure and its record of the maintenance of discipline, and the faithful dealing with enquiring souls is a monument to the faith that existed in those days. It is a remarkable testimony to the devotion of its members, capable of enduring to the end, and of such plain speaking that in these latter days of Agnosticism and Rationalism fills the thoughtful reader with astonishment and admiration.

In A.D. 1770 " The Church unanimously agreed to purchase land to build a Meeting House upon, and for Burying Ground," and on 9 October, " Edward Briggs agreed with Cornelius Hufton for land and articled accordingly." But on the 28th it was agreed to resign the above-mentioned land, and to buy land of John Walstone which was performed. This led Hufton to claim forfeit, but when this was paid he generously refused to receive it. The Minutes go on to record the names to persons " who have given an account of the dealing of God with their souls, and are baptized in the name of the Trinity, and are now visible members of this Baptist Church." The following Minute speaks for itself, " J — to appear at the next Church meeting to give reasons for non-attendance," and again " Agreed to call Bro. B------ to appear next Church meeting to give an account . . . . for suspending himself from Communion." The stern reality of this Faith would astound the people of Sutton-in-Ashfield today.

The Preface to the Prayer Book states that " There was never anything by the wit of man so well devised or so sure established which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted," and so the members of this little community were very soon face to face with a serious division of opinion, and were called upon to consider their position, for the errors of Robert Sandeman had crept in amongst them. But they were sternly dealt with by the congregation, for a Minute of 12 August, 1770, states that Daniel J------, David B., George R., William S., and Edward W., were solemnly excluded from all Ordinances of Special Communion for holding the errors of Sandemanianism." This Schism in the Baptist Society was caused by the teaching of the views of John Glas by Robert Sandeman. Glas was a Minister of the Church of Scotland who in 1727 published " The Testimony of the King of Martyrs concerning His Kingdom." St. John XVIII, 36. He was deposed in 1730 for maintaining that a congregation with its eldership is, in its discipline, subject to no jurisdiction but that of Jesus Christ.

But the Sutton Baptists would have none of Sandemanianism, realising from bitter experience that discipline must be maintained and by the strong arm if necessary.

There is no Minute recording the opening of the new place of worship though one appears on 4 July, 1772, giving an account of " money collected for buying land and building a Meeting House." On 4 September, 1774, it was agreed at the Church meeting " that the Church shall have the privilege of choosing Trustees for the meeting house." It may therefore be presumed that 1774 was the year when it was opened, and a final Minute taken 17 April, 1775, records that they, " Balance Accounts with Mr. Briggs on account of the Meeting House."

On the Enclosure of the Forest in 1797-1803, a piece of land at Forest Side was allotted to the Society, and owing to the successful outdoor preaching of the Rev. Clement Nott it was decided to provide a more regular and permanent means of Grace and to build a Chapel, and the following Committee was appointed to superintend its erection : C. Nott, Pastor, J. Blythe, Deacon, J. Godber, C. Salmon, B. Marshall, and W. Hawkins. On 11 and 16 September, 1832, the opening days, the Rev. J. Edwards, of Nottingham, and W. Hawkins, of Derby officiated, and Sunday Schools were soon after opened. In May, 1835, Bro. B. Marshall was appointed to receive applications for opening the Burial Ground, presumably for Interments, but no record appears of any being made at Forest Side.

By Act of Parliament in 1837 the Register of Births and Deaths was placed in the hands of the Registration Commissioners. It is to be noted that in 1836 the Forest Side Chapel which had cost £250 was declared to be free of debt, and in 1839 Mr. Vallance, of Mansfield, built the School Room.

In 1842 a departure from strict principle was made in admitting Mr. Samuel Roome, a Congregationalist to Communion. In 1854 the Chapel at Sutton was lighted by Gas from Works recently established, and Sunday and Monday evening Writing Schools were opened. In 1856 the resignation of the Rev. Clement Nott is minuted, and on 16 December, 1865, the restoration of the Minute Book, after being lost, is noted. On 8 September the Invitation to Mr. S. C. Smalley was extended and his acceptance of the Pastorate is recorded on the 8th . . . . The first celebration of the ordinance of Baptism at Forest Side took place on 5 November the same year and on the 13th the last entry appears in the Book.

A new place of Worship on the crown of the hill on Mans- field Road was opened November, 1908, and in 1913 the old Chapel was let to the Salvation Army. Litigation as to the occupation of this building took place. In 1867 a Trust Deed was executed for the Forest Side Chapel, the Trustees being Messrs. Wm. Vickers, of Nuthall, R. G. Barber, John and Thomas Bayley, of Lenton, Jos. Burton, of Basford, James Berry, and Thomas Davy, of Sutton, and F. G. Hasledine, of Nottingham.

Pastors of the Church, a.d. 1760. Abraham Booth, Preaching also at Nottingham. 1770. Edward Briggs, from Stanton.

A Memorandum is made on " March ye 15th, 1778, that this day a dissolution of the pastorall office of Edward Briggs was made, and be it further known that this dissolution is done in love and prayer."

1778. 24 April. This day Mr. Joshua Burton came to Sutton to exercise his Ministerial Gifts among us. 25 October. This day Mr. Joshua Burton was received into Church fellowship. He died 30 December, 1816. He seems to have become a General Baptist.

1794. 19 February. This day Mr. Briggs came to Sutton with his family from Burton. On the next page appears the name, heading the List of Members " Charles Briggs, Minister"

1801. 15 February. The Church agreed this day to give Brother John Whitehead a call to take upon him the Pastoral Charge, and on 28th April he was set apart to the Pastoral Office, which he accepted.

John Whitehead, Pastor of this Church died 16 February, 1814.

Mr. Burton appears to have acted as Deacon to Mr. White- head. Mr. Whitehead came from Langwith to sit under Mr. Booth, and while Pastor pursued his trade as a F.w.k.

Thomas Gabbitass' name appears as Assistant Preacher in March, 1820.

1822. 19 July. The Rev. Clement Nott succeeded, and he was ordained 14 November, 1826, the greatest prosperity of the Church followed. He married Miss Frances Downing, of Church Street, 4 June, 1829, his name being long retained by some houses there. He resigned in 1856.

In 1839 Mr. J. Litchfield who had been preaching on Sabbath evenings ' felt himself compelled to resign.'

In 1861 Mr. Thomas Cresswell, of Heanor, acted as Minister 33 weeks to 21 June, 1862.

1865 the Rev. S. Sykes and Mr. S. C. Smalley were interviewed, the latter being chosen, 8 September. He took the first Baptism at Forest Side 5 November, 1866, and so the record ends. He resigned October, 1868, but it does not seem to have been accepted till August, 1869.

After Mr. Smalley's resignation as Minister the Society was carried on principally at Forest Side by Messrs. Henry Pepper and Henry Shaw, the former coming, followed later by his brother, Elijah, from Gotham.

In 1884 new life sprung up and the Rev. H. B. Murray came as Pastor in September to the Forest Side Church, but he left in 1888, the Rev. J. G. Williams serving till 1888.

Register of Burials in the Ground attached to the Meeting House in Wallstone Lane (now Parliament St.) Sutton-in-Ashfield. A total of 24 persons.

Robert Hickton son of Joseph and Sarah die d about 1775
Samuel Wright son of Matthew and Sarah 19 April 1776
Hannah Beardsmore Dtr. of Thomas B. of Pinxi ion 3 May 1776
Phebe Hardwick, of Kirkby 1 June 1777
Samuel Wright son of Matthew and Sarah 14 Dec 1777
Hannah Heald 8 June 1778
John Jepson 1778
Mary wife of John Hickton 28 Dec. 1778
Elizabeth Stanhope, widow 15 Jan. 1782
Thomas Thompson 30 April 1782
Mary Jephon (? Jephson. w. of Richard) i March 1783
•j <J r \ %j r 1 A child of John Butler, two of Samuel & Eliz . Clarke 1783
Thomas son of Joseph and Mary Hickton 18 March 1783
Ann, wife of Benjamin Ward (Govmnt Duty 4d .) 19 June 1787
Wm. Poyser, & Sarah, d. of B. & Ann. Ward 1789
James Grice, Francis Wharmby and Elizabeth Wharmby 1789
James Radford, s. of Wm. and Ruth 15 Jan. 1792
Joseph Wharmby, a Member of this Church 28 April. 1794
John, s. of Samuel and Betty Clarke 9 Feb. 1787

The Register gives the births of the following children. 8 of Abraham and Mary Birks. 7 of John and Mary Whitehead. 1 of Joseph and Mary Hickton. ? Sarah.

5    of Joseph and Sarah Hickton.

6    of Matthew and Sarah Wright.

7    of Joseph and Mary Trueman.

4    of Joshua and Mary Burton, of Leeds.

4    of Joseph and Amilia Wharmby.

3    of Thomas and Sarah Beardsmore, of Pinxton.

3    of Isaac and Elizabeth Beardsmore, of Pinxton.

3    of Benjamin and Sarah Ward.

6    of Samuel and Eliz. Clarke.

2    of William and Eliz. Lawrence.

6    of Matthew and Ann Whitehead.

1    son of Asenath Birks.

1    of Thomas, son of Thomas and Ann Radford.

1    of Joseph Grice (? Grace) s. of John and Mary Grice.