Posted: 04 Nov 2012 05:41 PM PST

His fight for religious liberty brought him into conflict

John Corbley Memorial near Pittsburgh.

November 05, 1775 – John Corbley, at the age of 42, organized a Baptist church at Forks-of Cheat, now Stewartstown, West Virginia, with twelve members, and served as its first pastor. Corbley was a man of deep convictions and, being born in Ireland, was a prime example of the “Fighting Irish.” His biographer said that “…he was a militant crusader for any cause or controversy he saw worthy of his efforts.” His fight for religious liberty brought him into conflict with the state church in Virginia. In addition to Corbley’s preaching through the grates of the notorious jail at Culpeper County, Virginia, the Order Book of Orange County for the years 1763-69, Pg. 514, records the following; “This day (July 28, 1768) Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chambers in Discharge of their Recognizane Entered into before Rowland Thomas Gent on being charged as Vagrant and Itinerant Persons and for assembling themselves unlawfully at Sundry Times and Places under the Denomination of Anabaptists and for Teaching and Preaching Schismatick Doctrines Whereupon the Court having Examined the Witnesses and heard the counsel on both Sides are of the Opinion that the sd. Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig, Thomas Craig and Thomas Chambers are guilty of a Breach of Good Behavior and Ordered that they enter into Bond.” Later Corbley moved to Pennsylvania with the Redstone Settlement, where he spent the rest of his life. It was here that members of his family, including his wife, were massacred by Indians. Corbley was one of those heroes among the Baptists on the early frontier of our great nation. They were a peculiar stock of people with extraordinary conviction, and strength of character that prepared them for that day.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 459-461.

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