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This Sunday in Baptist History

February 26

It was on this day in 1770 that John Picket began his three month incarceration in the Fauquier County, Virginia, jail.

Because only the Church of England was lawfully permitted in Virginia, Brother Picket did most of his preaching in the open air. On one occasion before his arrest, a priest of the State Church appeared at one of these meetings and strutted down to the front of the audience, evicting someone from his chair, and pulling out some paper in order to make notes. He had two or three men with him who stood glaring at the preacher, trying to intimidate him. Following the sermon, the parson called the Baptist preacher a schismatic, a broacher of false doctrines and a teacher of damnable errors, telling everyone that he was going to publish his notes in the newspaper. This delighted the steadfast Anglicans but ultimately drew sympathy from the more common people.

The Fauquier gaol was an 18′ x 16′ log building divided into two cells. In each, there was a 12″ square grated window high in the wall, but it did nothing to comfort the prisoner. In the winter the building was exceedingly cold, but once spring came, it was like an oven.

Brother Picket’s zeal was not quenched by this experience. After his release, he preached the gospel in Culpepper County and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is said that he was the first to baptize people in the Shenandoah Valley.

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