Baptists preceded the Reformation
1847 – Thomas Rees Davies, the Welsh Baptist pastor, known as “Old Black Cap”, because he wore a velvet cap in the pulpit, provided a great verbal description of himself in a letter he wrote to a deacon in London, who was to meet him at the train. He wrote, “At Euston Station…about nine in the evening, expect the arrival of a gray-haired old man; very tall, like the ancient Britons, and without an outward blemish, but a Jewish high-priest. Like Elijah, he will wear a mantle, not shaggy, but superfine, and like Jacob, he will have a staff in his hand, but will not be lame, it is hoped. But most especially, he will have a white string in his hat, fastened to his coat button. There will be many there with black strings, but his will be white. Let the friend ask, ‘Are you Davies?’ and his answer will be, ‘Yes.’” Baptists in Wales preceded the Reformation. The Venerable Bede (673-735) wrote, in his work, that Welshmen followed the Bible only and opposed the superstitions of Rome. It is clear that there were those who held Baptist convictions in Wales at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The first Baptist church in Wales after the Reformation was formed at Ilston, near Swansea, in Glamorganshire, in 1649. Wales has also had a great influence in America by sending entire congregations to our shores. Christmas Evans was one of the greatest of their preachers, so named, because he was born on Christmas day. When Davies started his last preaching tour and sensed that his days were few he said that he wanted to be buried in the same grave with Evans. He preached on July 22, 1859, died on Sunday the 24th, and was buried in Evans tomb.
[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 661-62. Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists (New York: Bryan, Taylor, and Co., 1887), pp. 599-600.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon