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This Sunday in Baptist History

June 17

William Jones was born on this day (June 17) in 1762 in the country of Wales. Under the itinerant ministry of the Scottish Baptist, Archibald McLean, William, who had earlier apparently been born again, came to understand Baptist doctrine and was baptized in the Dee River.

When he was in his early 30s, Brother Jones moved to Liverpool where he became a publisher and bookseller. He, along with his friend, D.S. Wylie, began conducting religious services as well – which in time grew into a Baptist chapel.

Ten years later he moved to London and became pastor of a Scottish Baptist church of that city, while continuing to write and publish. Among his literary works are “History of the Waldenses and Albigenses” and a few biographies, including one on Rowland Hill, who I assume is the same Rowland Hill who fathered the modern postage stamp.

An interesting anecdote about William Jones arose when he was in his 82-year. He came to the attention of Queen Victoria, who invited him to move into a home she sponsored for prominent elderly citizens.

There, he would have a comfortable apartment, all his meals and a small stipend for whatever else he needed. There was however one condition – he must join the Church of England, repudiating his convictions as a Baptist. Without hesitation Jones politely declined, stating that he was a Dissenter based upon principles found in the Word of God. He wrote, “Have the kindness to assure Her Majesty that my declining to accept her gracious offer arises from purely conscientious motives, from deference to the authority of our great Master in heaven, to Whom we must all shortly render in our account.” Rather than displeasure, Queen Victoria, acknowledged Jones refusal, but granted him a stipend of 60 pounds per year for the rest of his life with no strings attached.

Three years later, while walking from his home to the chapel, Jones fell, breaking his hip. After a few days of suffering, the Lord took his servant to his eternal home. His remains were interred in Bunhill Fields, the Dissenter’s cemetery in London.

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