John Miles

1621-1683. Welsh Baptist pioneer. Born at Newton Clifford in Herefordshire and educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, he was baptized on profession of faith at the Glass House Baptist Church, Broad Street, London, and migrated to Ilston in the Gower peninsula to begin his career as the main founder of the Particular Baptists* in Wales. Through his diligence Baptist congregations were gathered over a wide area extending from Carmarthen in the west to the English border in the east. Although Miles did not possess the eloquence of some of his Puritan contemporaries, he had a rare gift of organization and a firm grasp of Baptist principles. He linked the congregations together in a quasi-Presbyterian system under his own firm control, with general meetings of representatives to make decisions on matters of common concern. In theology he was a strong Calvinist and firmly opposed any departure from this norm, whether by the Arminian Baptists of central Wales, or Quakers, or millenarians. His position among Welsh Puritans is revealed by his appointment as an approver under the Propagation Act of 1650. He was Puritan minister of Ilston from 1657 to 1660, when he was ejected under the terms of the September Act of the latter year. He emigrated to New England about 1663 and founded a Baptist Church at Rehoboth, Massachusetts, but in 1667 he moved again and founded a new settlement, Swansea, Massachusetts. His life in New England was a somewhat tempestuous one. He died at Swansea.