Seven preachers in jail
1771 – William Webber and Joseph Anthony of Virginia as Paul the Apostle were familiar with the inside of crude prisons. Few men in Virginia suffered more persecution than Webber. He was seized in Chesterfield County, Dec. 7, 1770, and imprisoned in the county jail until March 7, 1771. When the two men crossed the James River into Chesterfield County, there was not a Baptist in the entire county. The magistrates, finding that many were turning to righteousness (to madness, as they would state it)…issued warrants and had them apprehended and cast into prison. The order book of Chesterfield County, No. 4, page 489, Jan. 4, 1771, records that they were brought into court on a warrant for misbehavior for itinerant preaching…being of the sect commonly called Anabaptists. They were fined 150 pounds each and told not to return to the county for the space of one year. At one time there were seven Baptist preachers confined in the Chesterfield County jail. Webber and Anthony preached twice per week. Large congregations gathered to hear them as they preached through the grates of the prison. There were times of great revival and scores of conversions of souls turning to Christ under those windows. Baptist principles were largely advertised in Chesterfield County at the expense of the state.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 05-06.
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Some were whipped by individuals, several fined.
December 07, 1770 – William Webber and Joseph Anthony were arrested in Chesterfield, County, Virginia and they were held in prison until on Jan. 04, 1771, they were brought before the magistrates on charges of “misbehavior by itinerant preaching in this County being of that sect of dissenters from the Church of England commonly called anabaptists, and on hearing they acknowledged that they had preached in the upper end of this county at a meeting of sundry people there.” The court refused their offer to take the oath as prescribed by the so called Toleration Act, and thus for conscience sake they remained in jail until March 7, 1771. Jail increased their opportunities to preach through the grates. Their preaching was so powerful that the jailer was inclined to leave the door of their cell ajar so they could escape. Their reply was the same as Paul the Apostle, “They have taken us openly, uncondemned, and have cast us into prison; and now, do they cast us out privily? Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out.” Chesterfield, County was notorious for its persecution of Baptist preachers. In fact there is a monument to religious liberty on the courthouse square in Chesterfield, Virginia, in memory of those who courageously suffered in its behalf. Semple, in his history (1810), mentions, that the Baptist cause has most flourished where it has met the most opposition in its offset. In the history of Chesterfield jail, seven preachers were confined for preaching without a license. They were William Webber, Joseph Anthony, Augustine Easton, John Weatherford, John Tanner, Jeremiah Walker and David Tinsley. Some were whipped by individuals, several fined. They kept up their persecution even after other counties had laid it aside.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 510-11.