The early Separatist Church in Gainsborough

The generally accepted date for its formation is 1602. Some historians give it as 1605 or even 1606 perhaps confusing the year when John Smyth (or Smith) became its Minister after finally separating from the Church of England in 1605. 

The terms of the original Church Covenant are remarkable and read:

‘To walk in his ways made known,
or to be made known unto them,
according to their best endeavours,
whatsoever it should cost them,
the Lord assisting them.’

The Gainsborough Separatists emigrated by boat in 1607 and settled in Amsterdam. That emigration did not entirely denude Gainsborough of Separatists. The parish registers show the deaths of Separatists in 1614, 1630 and 1655. In 1672 the house of Matthew Coats was licensed for worship but its whereabouts are unknown. In 1688 Matthew Coats conveyed to trustees a Chapel in Ratten Row (later Beaumont Street) Gainsborough for ‘such Protestant Dissenters persons or people to meet assemble and worship God under the name of Congregational, Independent or Presbyterian.’ This church was originally Trinitarian in doctrine but drifted into Arianism and became fully Unitarian in 1844.

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