Under Britain’s Toleration Act of 1649, which also applied to all her colonies, officials of neither the State nor the Church could prosecute Baptists for merely preaching the gospel. But our Baptist brethren in Virginia were so hated that the State trumped up other kinds of charges in order to silence them. For example, the Order Book of Orange County, Virginia, for July 28, 1768, states that John Corbley, Allen Wiley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chambers were found guilty of a Breach of Good Behaviour and were ordered into Bond. The document said that they were charged as “Vagrant and Itinerant Persons” who “assembled themselves unlawfully at Sundry Times and Places under the Denomination of Anabaptists for Teaching and Preaching Schismatick Doctrines.” They were accused of being vagrants. Despite being arrested on several occasions they consistently went back to their preaching ministries.
John Corbley was one of those pioneer Baptists in Virginia who struggled against religious persecution. His trials were many and varied, including the slaughter of his wife and family by Indians, but he continued faithful to the end.
On this day (November 5) in 1775, at the age of 42, he constituted a Baptist Church at Forks-of-Cheat in West Virginia with 12 members.