Morgan Edwards

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Morgan Edwards (May 9, 1722 – January 25, 1795) was a Welsh historian of religion, Baptist pastor, notable for his teaching on the 'rapture' before its popularization by John Nelson Darby (1800–1882), a prime mover in the founding of Brown University.


Edwards was born in Trevethin parish, Pontypool, Wales, and attended Bristol College, after which he began preaching in 1738. He pastored several small Baptist churches in England for seven years, then moved to Ireland, where he pastored for nine years. In May 1761 he emigrated to the American colonies, and became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][2] He was one of the few Baptist clergyman to side with the Tories in the American Revolution.[3]

Edwards was a friend to the Academy of Philadelphia, afterwards the University of Pennsylvania, which in 1769 honored him with an honorary Master of Arts.[4]

Edwards resigned as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia in 1771 and retired to Pencader Hundred, near Newark, Delaware where he lived until his death in 1795.[5]


Edwards was a Baptist historian. He wrote the first Baptist church manual in the United States titled "Customs of Primitive Churches".[6] His major work, Materials Toward A History of the Baptists (1770) is an important source describing the Baptists in America. He later wrote a companion volume, Materials Toward A History of the Baptists in New Jersey (1792)[7]

In his Materials for a History of the Baptists in Rhode Island, Edwards wrote: "The first mover [himself] for it [a Baptist college] in 1762 was laughed at as a projector of a thing impracticable. Nay, many of the Baptists themselves discouraged the design (prophesying evil to the churches in case it should take place) from an unhappy prejudice against learning."

Brown University[edit]

In 1764, Edwards joined The Reverend James Manning, The Reverend Ezra Stiles, the Reverend Isaac Backus, the Reverend John Gano, the Reverend Samuel Stillman, William Ellery, and former Royal Governors Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward and several others as an original trustee for the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the former name for Brown University), the first Baptist college in the original thirteen colonies and one of the Ivy League universities.[8]


Edwards is notable for his early pretribulationism, predating John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and popularization of the idea. Pretribulationism is the view that Christian believers will be raptured or translated to heaven with Christ before the events of the tribulation.

Personal life[edit]

His wife, formerly Mary nunn of Cork, Ireland died in 1769.[9]


  1. ^ Spencer, David (1877). The Early Baptists of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: William Sycklemoore. p. 85. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Cross, Anthony R. (2017). Useful Learning: Neglected Means of Grace in the Reception of the Evangelical Revival among English Particular Baptists. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 413. ISBN 978-1-4982-0255-8. Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  3. ^ Torbet, Robert (1963). A History of the Baptists. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press. ISBN 0817000747. 
  4. ^ Paschal, G.W. (1930). "MORGAN EDWARDS' MATERIALS TOWARDS A HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS IN THE PROVINCE OF NORTH CAROLINA". The North Carolina Historical Review. 7 (3): 365–399. JSTOR 23514982. 
  5. ^ Jones, Horatio Gates (1885). "History of the Baptists in Delaware". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 9 (1): 45–61. JSTOR 20084689. 
  6. ^ Shurden, Walter B. "Materials Towards A History of the Baptists by Morgan Edwards". Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  7. ^ Shurden, Walter B. "Materials Toward A History Of The Baptists by Morgan Edwards". Retrieved 25 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Guild, Reuben Aldridge (1867). History of Brown University: With Illustrative Documents. Providence Press Company. p. 151. Retrieved 25 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "Edwards, Morgan". Retrieved 26 October 2017.