The Pastor\’s Pen

An Independent Baptist Preacher\’s Musings and Observations

Obadiah Holmes – Unmercifully Whipped

Posted by Pastor Szekely on May 14, 2008

Pastor Obadiah Holmes sufferingPastor Obadiah Holmes was the second pastor of the Newport Church in Rhode Island, the first Baptist Church in America.  In the following [copied from History of the Baptists, Armitage, BSB Publishers, 1887. pg 687-688] he and two of the brethren suffer much for the cause of Christ, but it was the blood of Brother Holmes that was the first to be shed in America for the sake of our Saviour.

On Monday they were removed to Boston an cast into prison, the charges against them being for ‘disturbing the congregation in the afternoon, for drawing aside others after their erroneous judgments and practices, and for suspicion of rebaptizing one or more amongst us’.

Clarke [this is John Clarke, first pastor of the Newport Church] was fined 20 pounds sterling, Holmes 30, and [James] Crandall 5 pounds sterling; and on refusal to pay they were ‘to be well whipped’, although [Governor] Winslow had told the English Government that they had no law ‘to whip in that kind’.

Edwards [historian] says that while ‘Mr. Clarke stood stripped at the whipping post, some humane person was so affected with the sight of a scholar, a gentleman, and reverend divine, in such a situation, that he, with a sum of money, redeemed him from his bloody tormentors’. Before this he had asked the Court, ‘What law of God or man had he broken, that his back must be given to the tormentors for it, or he be despoiled of his goods to the amount of 20 pounds sterling?’ To the which Endicott replied, ‘You have denied infant baptism and deserve death, going up and down, and secretly insinuating into them that be weak, but cannot maintain it before our ministers’.

Clarke tells us that ‘indulgent and tenderhearted friends, without my consent and contrary to my judgment, paid the fine’. Thus somenone paid the fine of Clarke and Crandall, and proposed to pay that of Holmes. The first two were released, whether they assented or not, but Holmes who was a man of learning, and who afterward succeeded Dr. Clarke as pastor of the Newport Church, would not consent to the paying of his fine, and because he refused, he was whipped thirty stripes, September 6, 1651. He said that he ‘durst not accept of deliverance in such a way’.

He was found guilty of ‘hearing a sermon in a private manner…and for suspicion of their having their hands in rebaptizing of one or more’. Bancroft [historian] says that he was whipped ‘unmercifully’, and ‘that for many days, if no some weeks, he could take no rest but upon his knees and elbows, not being able to sufferany part of his body to touch the bed whereon he lay’.

While enduring his torture, he joined his Lord on the cross and Stephen in praying that this sin might not be laid to the charge of his persecutors; and when his lacerated flesh quivered and blood streamed from his body, so powerfully did the Grace of the Crucified sustain him that he cheerfully said to his tormentors:



45 Responses to “Obadiah Holmes – Unmercifully Whipped”

  1. […] The following came from here! What a story! I want a testimony that I love Jesus with all my heart! […]

  2. Courtney said

    Wow! That is an amazing story. Oh, that I could suffer with such Christ-likeness in me. Thank you for posting this. It is a reminder that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

  3. Amen, sis…you’re welcome.

    Sufferings – temporary / Glory – eternal!

    Glory be to God!!!

  4. I though it might interest you that there is a DVD on the whipping of Obadiah Holmes. You can find it at the following link.

    Pastor Woody
    Shiloh Baptist Church

  5. Thank you, Pastor Woody…I’ll check it out!

    Lord bless!

  6. A church in the UP of Michigan has just put out a film called “As with Roses” about this very story. The link is

    Hope this is a blessing my brother!

  7. Thanks for the link, Bro. D!

    Great hearing from you. I pray all is well with you and yours!

    Catch you later, my brother ~ Lord bless!

  8. Hello,

    As a Baptist, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I did not know very much of my Baptist history, even here in America, until recently. I am a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Gwinn, MI, where the film “As With Roses” was produced. We have some very wonderful talents given to us by God to bring Baptist history to life through digital media. As one of the actors in this film, I will never forget the experience and the glimpse into what Brother Holmes may have gone through. We hope that the portrayal of this event in our American history will touch as many hearts as who view it, as much as our hearts were touched in producing it.

    See the trailer here at or at my pastor’s site as mentioned above at

    Evangelist Avery Smith
    Shiloh Baptist Church
    Gwinn, MI

  9. Thank you for clicking in, brother!

    I know what you mean about we Baptists not knowing our Baptist History. It is crucial that Baptists study our history and even collect good books and video on our history for preservation sake.

    I really like what’s being done with “As With Roses”! Has there been a great desire for the DVD? I pray so. I’ll be buying one next month.

    Lord bless, and keep on fighting the good fight!

  10. We had hoped that our advertisement in a popular paper would have resulted in more desire for the film. However, we have been contacting churches one-by-one on a one-on-one basis, and have seen our sales of the film more than triple from what we had done before. The word for this film is getting out. Not only that, but the sales of “As With Roses” are helping the production of the next series of Baptist history films we are now in the process of producing. We are raising money for the purchase of new equipment, wardrobes, and props. I won’t say as of right now what the next two films are about, but I can say that you don’t want to miss it. Keep an eye on the web site at for the soon to be released teaser trailer for the next two. We hope you enjoy and are deeply moved by the film.

    Brother Avery Smith
    Shiloh Baptist Church
    Gwinn, MI

  11. […] but you can do that yourself. Obadiah Holmes was a persecuted Baptist by the Mass. Bay Colony: Obadiah Holmes – Unmercifully Whipped The Pastor’s Pen The Persecution of Obadiah Holmes in America Roger Williams – Google Book Search Puritan Age and […]

  12. Julie Smith said

    While doing family genealogy research I found this sight. I had known the Obadiah Holmes, a direct ansestor, was a Rev in the first Baptist Church in the United States, I was extrememly happy to find out that this movie was out there. My family has a long and substantial history in the Baptist church and I am glad others are learning my history and the history of the early prosecutions that were faced by those wanting the freedom to express thier religion.

    Julie Smith

  13. lacoste minneapolis said

    nice advice and sharing,I will buy one this nice jeans for me .thanks

  14. Deonna said

    So glad to learn about the film! Obadiah was my Tenth-Great Grandfather. I have taught my children about their heritage (both as a Holmes and as a Baptist), and now will order the DVD!

  15. Edward M. Boll said

    I just found out the other day that I am descended through his son Jonathan and his wife Sarah Borden Holmes.When I read about him I thought that a film should be made. I did not realize that one had already been made.

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