Morgan Edwards was born in Wales in 1722 and was educated in England at Bristol College. Upon the recommendation of John Gill, the Baptist Church in Philadelphia invited Edwards to become their pastor. He and his wife emigrated to this country, where the Lord greatly blessed his ministry. William Cathcart tells us that Edwards “was the founder of Brown University, at first called Rhode Island College.” Although other men were involved in its establishment, says Cathcart, “To Morgan Edwards more than to any other man are the Baptist churches of America indebted for their grand list of institutions of learning, with their noble endowments and wide-spread influences.” But Cathcart goes on to add that Morgan Edwards was the only Baptist preacher in America known to support the British cause in the War for Independence.

Here is where this bit of history takes an interesting twist. “Rhode Island College” was renamed “Brown University” due to the support given to it by the Baptist layman Nicholas Brown. Nicholas had three brothers, one of whom was named John.

John Brown was the owner of twenty ships which carried cargo and supplies up and down the American coast. As tensions with England increased, the British sent a gun ship, named Gaspee, into Narragansett Bay to harass, or stop, the American shipping. But on this day in 1772, the Gaspee ran aground below Pawtuxet. When Brown heard of it, he immediately ordered eight of his boats, manned with sixty-four of his own employees to take the Gaspee. At about 2:00 a.m. they approached, and two shots were fired, one of which wounded a British lieutenant. That was the first British blood to be shed in the war. The officers and men of the “Gaspee” fled to land, and the Americans stormed aboard the abandoned ship with the intention of destroying her. It is said that John Brown was the last man to leave the British vessel before the explosives his men had placed blew the ship apart.
(Sources: William Cathcart, “Baptist Encyclopedia,” and
“This Day in Baptist History, II, by Cummins and Thompson.)