Brethren Archive
The Year 1857

A Statement of Facts [in reference to certain charges brought by a Mr. D. against some members of the family of a Mr. G.].

Tom said ...
Fascinating account that came to light recently after someone inquired about it on the feedback page and it turned out to be available on Google Books. It is hard to know how much credibility one can give it though, especially as I have not seen anything else on this matter and the very fact that JND's enemies speak nothing of this supposed case might say a lot in itself. For that reason it is a shame to have something so potentially libelous against such an important historical figure without any case for the defense.

Someone pointed out to me that this is probably what is referenced by W.K. in 'JND as I knew Him',

"I remember once in Bath remonstrating with him, because of his apparently unbroken confidence in a brother who was behaving very ill to his own mother and sister, whom he drove out of the meeting as a veritable "Diotrephes," to gratify his mad and unbelieving father. Mr. Darby soliloquised as we walked along, "Strange thing, that my pets should turn out scamps." I fear that so it evidently was with this person; for not long after he furnished the most defamatory scandal ever written, printed and circulated, against his blindly generous benefactor.

The upshot of this case is instructive. The railer, who of course vanished, not only from fellowship but to another land, had great kindness shown him by a Christian man there, an Irish gentleman. Having occasion afterwards to visit Ireland, he enquired if any of his friends knew of one, Mr. Darby. Oh, yes to be sure! Everyone knows of Mr. Darby. "Well," said he, "I received — and his large family for a long time; during which he was habitually abusing Darby. But I found him out to be worthless; so I came to the conclusion that the object of his abuse must be a very good man." It smacks rather Hibernian; but it was a sound instinct, and true in fact."

Also although JND's enemies do not seem to have made anything of this, they were certainly aware of it; W.M. Reid in his "Plymouth Brethrenism unveiled and refuted" quotes from it too,

"He is undoubtedly a man of no ordinary ability and force of character. His style, however, is about the most uncouth, irrelevant, obscure, of any author. But when dealing with an opponent, " those obscure, uncouth, ungrammatical, tortuous sentences, which only excite our contempt," as another expresses it, " enter into the very bones of the victims, and paralyse them in their inner man." And yet this is the accepted leader of a large section of the Brethren !"

So we will never know the truth but an interesting insight into life at the time, all the same.
Thursday, Oct 23, 2014 : 19:31
Researcher said ...
George Henry Gillett was born in 1815 or 1816 in Wiltshire and was married to Frances Jane (née Moore), born two years earlier. Eventually they had 11 children. Their first daughter, Caroline, was in her sixteenth year in 1855 and their second son, Frederick, would have been around 14 years old then. In 1855 little Frances would have been about 4-5 years old. In between there were Lucy (about 9 years old) and Robert (about 7 years old). John at 3 years was younger than Frances.

George, the oldest child, was in his seventeenth year and was in London in the Autumn/early Winter of 1855.

J N Darby had known this family for a long time. He had written a long letter to George Gillett from Lausanne in 1843 (Volume 1 Letters, pages 56-58).

J N Darby stayed with the Gilletts in Bath in the Autumn and early Winter of 1855. G V Wigram addressed letters to J N Darby at their home, 10 Mount Beacon, Bath, in October 1855.  At some point in November or December 1855 Darby moved out of the Gillett household and lodged at 6 Paragon Buildings nearby.

The Gillett family were known to G V Wigram. In a letter to J N Darby at this time he sent 'Salutations' to them. In a letter of 20 December 1855 G V Wigram asked J N Darby to arrange for himself (JND) or George Gillett to baptise the oldest son, also George, when the lad visited his family in Bath from London.

G V Wigram referred to the fact that he had put a document which J N Darby had lent him into J N Darby's 'oak desk' at Howley Place, Harrow Road, London. G V Wigram’s letters at this time were sent from 19 Howley Place.

The unpublished letters between J N Darby and G V Wigram can be viewed in the Brethren Archive, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, UK.
Friday, Feb 6, 2015 : 11:11
Tom said ...
Thanks for the information; one other thing on this pamphlet is that it is in the British Library, in a a small volume bound with just two other tracts, "Analysis By A Student Of Prophecy .. on Thought on the Apocalypse by BWN" and "The New Opinions of the Brethren Examined by a Spectator" .. The first one of these is written by R.M. Beverley and the second one is strongly suspected to be written by him also, so it is only speculation but it is possible he might have been the author of this tract too.
Friday, Feb 6, 2015 : 20:04
Researcher said ...
In a letter to G V Wigram, written on a lettersheet and postmarked Belvidere (Bath) on 22 October 1855, J N Darby remarked, “I preached twice instead of Gillett”, and further down: “I read with Miss Gillett & generally Foley from breakfast till dinner”. ‘Foley’ may refer to Captain Edward Foley (1807-1894) to whom J N Darby had written about temperance societies on April 21st, 1848 (Volume 3 Letters, pages 246-247).

The 1851 census shows that George and Frances Gillett had a connection with 64 High Street Glastonbury.

It’s possible that the Mr and Mrs P of Cheltenham, referred to in the Statement, were George and Eliza (née Fisher) Page. They were born in 1815, the same year as George Gillett, and eventually had ten children. A George Page of Cheltenham is mentioned on page 101 of ‘The History of the Brethren’ by Napoleon Noel: “ ... one of the early ‘brethren’, Mr George Page of Cheltenham, hearing in his travels of this community at Burford, visited them, with the result that they came into fellowship with ‘brethren’.”
Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015 : 10:18
Tom said ...
Thanks again;
I found the DOB of George Henry Gillett to be the 21st Jun 1815.
Caroline seems to have married a Theodore Robert Pengelly in Canada on the 29th May 1865 .. This is interesting as corroborates the report by WK that they left the UK. They must have left after 1861 though, and GHG had returned by the 1871 census.
There also seems to be a record that GHG died in Bath, in January 1880.
Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015 : 12:19
Researcher said ...
Below is a transcript of a letter J N Darby wrote from Bath in October 1855. The original can be found in the G.V. Wigram Correspondence, GVW/276, Manchester University Library.

Please note:
Gregg, Bagster and Nisbet were publishers.
The ‘present testimony’ was a magazine of that name.
Dorman is W H Dorman.
Dolemeads was an area of Bath under the new railway viaduct.
‘parce’ is the mediaeval Latin form of ‘pace’ meaning ‘spare’, or here ‘except’ (see C13 Dies Irae).
The spelling and punctuation is just as J N Darby wrote it.

Addressed to : G V Wigram 19 Howley Place Park Place Paddington London
Postmarked Belvidere [Bath] Oct 22 1855

Dearest Wigram

I think unless Gregg’s pages are a good deal smaller than the present testimony the Old Test: might be in one volume should not be very thick I do not know what the cost of printing it would be If it be not too much I would take it on myself I can go on paying from time to time or in January and July It would hardly be more than 60 or 70 pounds I suppose at any rate and that would not be all at once or if it be not till a time I could have reserved funds for it. Does Gregg publish it simply in his own name. Perhaps Bagster or Nisbet would have theirs I am not very fond of the latter but I have not the least inclination to have your present testimony man I forget his name. I had already written to Dorman with the effect of enlarging on the Priests garments. There is a good bit on the tabernacle in Leviticus I will see on looking over Exodus in strips as in that form there is no difficulty in adding fresh matter. Here the Lord is certainly blessing so that I am a little shy of leaving it for Stafford & Birmingham as I thought of doing too soon. I had two preachings in the Dolemeads a bad part of the town and a person brought to the Lord at each others I hope blessed in the open air I preached twice instead of Gillett and heard of one person converted 4 persons have been added since I came and through Miss Whately & Miss who are both here we get to quantities of people at the preachings they are uncommonly attentive and I should quite trust there have been several more in life blest and made clean. At some rooms there is not room Sunday Evng I have felt unusually supplied of the Lord to preach & other service at Bristol I have a goodly number Wednesday and it cheers and revives them I have been and am going to other places. I read with Miss Gillett & generally Foley from breakfast till dinner I have got on much with scripture since I have been here I have the books ready to the end of Ruth. I have East Combe Bridgwater Kingston Torquay yet to visit If I can Plymouth in these western parts at the rest I have been parce Glastonbury where we go D.V. tomorrow week. In general the saints are getting on very happily. I hope I may get however to Stafford & Birmingham at least in passing. Would you ascertain if a lettre to Gough British Museum, did or would reach I dont press or seek any answer as mine was one to him but only to know that he got it he dated his British Museum

Affectionally JND

I have a letter from Mrs Forrest from India who tells me Miss Duggan is very anxious her Mother & Sister up Caledonian roadway should be a little looked after I have no objection to give a trifle if needed
Friday, Feb 13, 2015 : 16:36
Ian said ...
This letter transcribed by Researcher appears to be largely about the arrangements for publishing Darby’s Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. The “strips” that he refers to were probably strips of paper, unbound, on which his manuscript was written. In exactly the same context in a letter to Wigram dated 29 October 1855, he refers to them as “slips” where he writes, “The only enlargements I contemplate on slips were what you [unclear word] as to Priests’ robes and Tabernacle.”
Friday, Feb 13, 2015 : 22:07
Researcher said ...
It seems likely that the query about ‘a lettre [sic] to Gough British Museum’ in J N Darby’s letter from Bath (postmarked October 22 1855) was a reference to the bookbinder, Henry Gough. This Mr Gough was a skilled craftsman who had worked in Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the libraries of various Oxford colleges before being recommended in 1837 to Sir Frederic Madden, Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum. It’s recorded in the British Museum archives that Mr Gough’s ‘terms’ were ‘moderate’, and he subsequently worked on the restoration of the important burnt Cotton MSS in collaboration with Sir Frederic at the Museum.

J N Darby was an antiquarian book collector. Although he writes that he wasn’t pressing for a reply from Henry Gough he may have hoped to make contact with him, perhaps with an eye to commissioning the conservation of one of his own valuable old books.

The 1857 ‘Statement’ speaks of J N Darby’s rooms at G V Wigram’s London home, 19 Howley Place, and J N Darby may have kept his expanding personal library there. Records show, however, that in the 1860s G V Wigram’s address changed to 3 Howley Place. It was around then that J N Darby moved to rooms at 3 Lonsdale Square, Islington, London, the home of architect/surveyor Ebenezer Gregg and his wife, Sarah, and their family. Ebenezer was the brother of Thomas H Gregg, the printer/publisher mentioned at the start of J N Darby’s October 22 1855 letter transcribed above.
Monday, Feb 16, 2015 : 07:34
Tom said ...
So would this be the same Henry Gough who was at Rawstorne street or is the name just coincidence? e.g.
Monday, Feb 16, 2015 : 17:31
Researcher said ...
Tom, I'd also wondered that; but was the Rawstorne Street Mr Gough called Henry too?

There were other, in some cases distinguished, Goughs around the Bodleian and the British Museum at that time, but the bookbinder Henry Gough, although a skilled craftsman, sometimes found it difficult to make ends meet and support his young family, especially when he moved to London to work with Sir Frederic Madden. It seems he had no personal wealth.

Surely J N Darby would have known the Brethren Mr Gough and been able to write to him at his home address. If not, G V Wigram, in London and associated with Rawstorne Street, would have known it. A letter from G V Wigram to J N Darby in October 1855 advises Darby that he (GVW) has spoken to 'Gough' and correspondence addressed to the British Museum should find him, though he says that 'Gough' can't recall receiving anything from J N Darby.

It is of course possible that the Rawstorne Street Mr Gough of 1847 had left the Exclusive fellowship by 1855.

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 : 09:00
Researcher said ...
Tom - I notice now that on page 18 of S P Tregelles' printed Letter to Mr Gough it records that this addressee was Mr Henry Gough of Islington.

This Henry Gough seems to have been a leading brother in the Rawstorne Street meeting in 1846/7. Would he have been if he was a bookbinder/manuscript conservator? His name was linked with W H Dorman, I see.
Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 : 10:22
Tom said ...
Yes, sad to say it, but it would seem unlikely a man of 'no personal wealth' would hold a prominent position in a Brethren meeting at that time.
Also CBA have an item;

Reference code: JND/5/72
Reference code: Former reference: CBA 5540 (69)
Dates of creation: 26 Sep 1855
Extent: 1 sheet folded
From Henry Gough to Darby discussing grounds of fellowship.

which given the date would suggest JND was well acquainted with the Brethren Henry Gough at this time, so I imagine it must be another one.
Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 : 12:33
Researcher said ...
J N Darby thought that Dolemeads in Bath was "a bad part of the town". His opinion is interesting because he was a contemporary of the vicar of Widcombe, Bath, the Rev'd Mourant Brock (1802-1883), who tried to do something to help the people of that area:

In 1854, Mourant Brock, the vicar of St Matthew’s Church, wrote an open letter to “The Working Men of the Parish of Widcombe” in which he referred to his concern for the people living in the Dolemeads and stated that there were three important requirements for the area:

“1. An infants’ school.  2. A Reading Room with Coffee Shop attached, 3. A Visitor and Scripture-Reader who may be helpful both to body and soul”.
Land was purchased from the GWR and a school was built in 1855, at a cost of £350, partly under and partly against archway no 14 of the railway viaduct, and today there are still marks on the stonework where the roof had been attached.  The street that passed close to the school and continued under archway no 15 was then called Middle Lane but its present name is Broadway.  Early this century the building was used as a Mission Room.
In his appeal for money for the school, the vicar stated that the population of the Parish of Widcombe was 5000 of whom 3000 were poor.  It is likely that the vicar’s second request was met 30 years later by the building of the Reading Room and Institute on Widcombe Hill; there is no information concerning his third requirement.
Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015 : 08:02
Tom said ...
Here is a challenge .. can we shed any light on who was the chairman of the meeting held Feb 4th 1857 referenced in the document. In the Appendix, a letter of GVW is quoted saying, "Mr ----, the chairman, is an old pious friend of mine - a judge from India, a Church of England Christian, and a perfect man of business. He utterly rejected H.'s proposition,", so a few clues in there?!
Thursday, Mar 5, 2015 : 23:07
Researcher said ...
Here are two letters between G V Wigram and J N Darby, written early in January 1857. They raise the issue of the 4 February 1857 Meeting of Investigation referred to in the 'Statement of Facts ....'

The reference codes belong to the G V Wigram Correspondence, Manchester University Library. The text is copied with the original punctuation.

It would be helpful to find the 'Letter of the 9' mentioned in these two letters.


Postmarked Plymouth Jan 5 1857
Addressed to Mr J. N. Darby. 19 Howley Place. Harrow road. London. “W”.

I hear something, My dear JND. of a letter of 9. I hope & trust in the Lord that it originated not from you nor is accredited by you. Get under the shelter of such a thing and you reverse your whole course hitherto. I would God you were softer and more patient to the feeble, but if that cannot be, stand in your rugged individuality alone before God & under Christ.
Affy. G.V.W.

3 Alfred Place
Citadel road 5.1.57



Two postmarks: ‘Jan 7 1857’ and ‘Plymouth Jan 8 1857’
Addressed to G.V. Wigram 3 Alfred Cottages Citadel Road Plymouth

Dear Wigram

                      I have nothing to do with the letter of the nine It was written and sent while I was abroad I knew nothing of the matter till perhaps a week after my return when finding I was come they sent it me with Gilletts answer my reply to McAdam who forwarded it was shown to Gillett who thereon has moved for a meeting the lettre of the nine took away the plea he had that I must go to accuse his children I suppose it will be soon arranged. I am expected Monday at Montpellier and probably for a reading meeting at Vergèze and a visit to Vigan after that I suppose with this meeting I must be back again this most wearing to the body but of mine all right Mr Batten has written to me a letter only showing that he is under the effect of the systematic untruth that pervades every one of those who are mingled with the corruption that is afloat. Jarrett I suppose is going this is more sorrow to me than all the rest.
I asked McAdam at Bath what the letter was for for the truth is I did not exactly see the sense of it he said it was to finish with the tergiversations of Gillett who was using my refusal to accuse the children as a ground for avoiding all meeting The only thing I knew of the meeting was that Dorman told me he had been summoned for one just as I was leaving for France.

Affectionately in the Lord JND
Sunday, Mar 8, 2015 : 16:57
Tom said ...
Thank you very much again for sharing those letters. It would indeed be fascinating to find the 'Letter of the 9' (and the minutes of this 'meeting' too that are mentioned in the first pamphlet), but where?! Maybe one day a copy will turn up somewhere unexpectedly but for now I could not even suggest places to look! There must be other material out there though, eg. in that last letter you have copied, there is reference to a letter from (J.E.) Batten and everything suggests plenty of people got involved in this. It is interesting too that McAdam is mentioned; I had heard that a number of these unpublished letters (that are now at CBA) were recently discovered by PBCC researchers who traced descendants of McAdam and obtained them through this contact. Given that McAdam was around that area, it would be no surprise if he was actively involved in the controversy too and thus he had much relevant material in his possession.
Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 : 20:08

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