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Baptists in Bolnhurst

The Church Book for Keysoe Brook End Particular Baptist meeting notes that their leader John Donne addressed a meeting of independents, the forerunner of Baptists, in Bolnhurst in 1669. About eighty people were there.

On 30th March 1751 nine people at Bolnhurst agreed: “to meet in this Church once a week (on Wednesday Evenings at seven of the clock) for psalmody till Midsummer. To forfeit for absence 2d. each time”. The names were: Robert Pestell; Edward Goodly; William Fodery; Charles Fisher; William [surname unreadable]; Elizabeth Wyatt; Elizabeth Elmo; William Dawson and T Spencer [CRT170/3/17].

The late H G Tibbutt identified the December 1765 registration of the dwelling house of John Emery of Bolnhurst, husbandman [ABN1/1; ABN2/21] as being Baptist.

A survey of attendances of religious services throughout the kingdom was organised  for the final Sunday in March 1851. Joseph Sharman, farmer, conducter of the chapel stated that the current meeting had opened in 1833 and had eighty free seats. The general congregation that evening was also eighty.

Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service has no further record of a Baptist meeting in Bolnhurst. No chapel is shown on the first Ordnance Survey 25 inches to the mile map for the parish dating from 1884. This should probably be no surprise, given that there were two flourishing meetings (Keysoe Row and Brook End) just up the road in Keysoe.