Brian Jeffries – Richard Baxter

A full meeting room, including seven new visitors, welcomed Brian Jeffries, a member of the History Group, who spoke about Richard Baxter. Brian had written a pamphlet about Richard Baxter and used this as the basis of his presentation.

Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691) was a prominent preacher and evangelist during the time of the Civil War. He is particularly remembered locally for being a teacher and curate at St Mary’s Church, Kidderminster, and there is a statue to him on the St Mary’s Ringway in the town. We also discovered that there is an overgrown Baxter Monument in Kingsford Lane, Wolverley, which is managed by English Heritage and several members have decided that they would like to find it.

Baxter Monument off Kingsford Lane in Wolverley

Brian spoke a lot about Baxter’s wife, Margaret Charlton, who came from a wealthy family background in Shropshire. Theirs was a marriage of opposites: she was 21 years his junior, being only 26 when they married. Baxter, at 47, had struggled with his calling to be celibate, in a similar way to Martin Luther, when he met his wife. Richard Baxter had come from a poor background but had risen to become a bold proclaimer of the Gospel and a serious and sincere preacher, known to both King Charles II and to Oliver Cromwell, and his aim was to improve the moral, physical and spiritual welfare of his parishioners.

Baxter Memorial in Kidderminster Baxter Obelisk in Rowton

During his lifetime he was incredibly famous, as a scholar and the author of many books, as well as preaching to thousands of people at a time. This pattern of preaching to crowds was followed in later years by John and Charles Wesley and by the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon. However, with the 1662 Act of Uniformity, he became an outlaw, although he continued to take a stand against all forms of injustice.

 

Heidy Hague