A Dictionary of Dissent: S, T & U
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Date: 6 October, 2010

William Booth and The Salvation Army flag. Images: Wikipedia

'This is yet to happen, but her followers in Bedford guard it to this day.'



Steve Tomkins continues the series about British and Irish sects and schisms with a look at the letters S, T & U

John Smyth

John Smyth was the first Baptist. He started out as a Puritan, left the Church of England as a separatist, took his church to Holland, and split it over issues including his insistence that the New Testament should be read in Greek.

He baptised himself, and his remaining followers, in 1609. He ended up joining the Dutch Mennonites and his church went back to England without him.

Joanna Southcott

Born in 1750, Joanna Southcott became a prophet, and claimed to have given birth to an invisible messiah. She sealed her prophesies about the end of the world in box that could only be opened by a meeting of all the bishops of the Church of England.

This is yet to happen, but her followers in Bedford guard it to this day.

Salvation Army

William Booth started the Salvation Army to reach the masses to the urban underworld. It demanded military style discipline from members, and, identifying alcohol as their greatest and most easily remediable source of misery, banned it altogether.

They became a denomination by accident, partly because they were not supposed to be a church and partly because of the stance on alcohol. The Army does not teach that sacraments are wrong, but it believes that they are unnecessary, and may be unhelpful to some.

Test and Corporation Acts

After the collapse of Cromwell's Puritan regime in 1660, Parliament passed the Test and Corporation Acts, to keep non-Anglicans out of all civil or military office. The laws remained in place until 1828.

Toleration Act

The 1660 Restoration also saw Baptist and Quaker churches being outlawed, and mob violence against Dissenting churches. The Toleration Act of 1689 granted religious freedom to all Protestant Dissenters.

Tolpuddle Martyrs

The Tolpuddle martyrs were a group of Methodists, led by a Methodist preacher who formed a trade union to campaign against low and falling wages in their Dorset village.

They were sentenced to seven years transportation in Australia, but because of mass protest were pardoned after three years.


William was an early Protestant scholar who made a ground-breaking translation of the Bible into English from exile in Europe.

On the orders of Henry VIII he was executed before the work was finished, but it's estimated that 80% of the King James Bible is the words of Tyndale.


The 18th-century English enlightenment saw a widespread loss of confidence in Christian mysteries such as the Trinity, and Theophilus Lindsey formed the first Unitarian Church in London in 1773.

Underground Church

An illegal Protestant church met in boats and pubs in London during the time of Queen Mary's bonfires.

It was infiltrated by spies and had to keep moving to avoid the soldiers. It shut up shop when the Protestant Elizabeth came to the throne, but radical puritans revived it.


Read the introduction to this series, and the previous part

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