In 2021, the Seventh Day Baptist Church celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first congregation in North America at Newport, Rhode Island. Until last year, I knew nothing about this denomination. While conducting some family research, I discovered that my grandmother’s family was integral in the founding of Rhode Island with Roger Williams, the founding of the First Baptist Church in America, and the founding of the offshoot of that first church called the Seventh Day Baptists (SDB). This church is also referred to as the “Sabbatarians” because they worshipped on Saturday rather than Sunday. (See also posts on Dr. John Clarke and Rev. Thomas Hiscox.)
The first Baptist church in Newport was founded in 1644 by John Clarke. Several years later, a group of 7th Day Baptists (celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday) separated from Clarke’s church. Five of the seven founding members had been members of Clarke’s church. They included: Rev. Samuel and Tacy (nee Cooper) Hubbard (my 9th great grandparents) and William Hiscox (my 8th great grandfather), father of Rev. Thomas Hiscox.
In its early years this congregation met in a building at Green End, but as the congregation grew land on Barney Street was purchased for the purpose of building a new church. The building was erected in 1730 and was considered to be one of the finest colonial interiors in Rhode Island.
My grandmother’s family tree includes many Rhode Island and First Baptist/Seventh Day Baptist founding family names such as: Clarke, Hiscox, Hubbard, Crandall, Maxson, Burdick, Stillman, Cottrell, Davis, and Lanphear.
To read more, visit: https://www.sdbhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/12-2_7thday.pdf
Our family lost touch with its Seventh Day Baptist Church roots at some point. My 4th great grandfather, John Cottrell, was a “farmer preacher” in the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Westerly, RI. In 1806, he moved with his wife Mary Polly (nee Stillman), and their family to Brookfield, NY, where he joined the Seventh Day Christians because he had “taken some exceptions to the beliefs of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Rhode Island.”
John’s daughter Clymena married Jacob Tubbs in Brookfield, New York, Perhaps Jacob attended a Congregational church which had evolved out of the early Puritan church.
In 1833, John and family moved to Newstead, NY, and eventually joined the Seventh Day Adventists and helped build the church there.
For a comparison between SDB and SDA, visit: http://www.seattlesdb.org/sda_Compare.htm
After the family moved again, this time to Wisconsin, some joined the United Methodist church.
Here, I’ve gathered a few resources on the history of the SDB church which is intertwined with the settlement and history of Rhode Island. (See also posts on John Clarke and Thomas Hiscox.) The definitive source of SDB history is the SDB Historical Library & Archives located in Janesville, WI, of all places, just 30 minutes from where I grew up.
A short portrait of Tacy Cooper Hubbard, the woman who founded the SDB church: https://redtreetimes.com/2016/02/25/icon-tacy-cooper/