By JERRY WINDSOR
Special to Florida Baptist Witness
The earliest Baptists in America stemmed from a group of like-minded individuals who surrounded Roger Williams. It was on Feb. 5, 1631, that Roger Williams (1603-1683) and his wife sailed from Bristol on the ship Lyon and landed at Nantasket, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Roger Williams was born in London in 1603, the son of James and Alice Pemberton Williams. James was an importer and trader. He and his wife had a daughter Catherine and sons Sydrach, Roger and Robert. Roger studied at the Charterhouse and later at Pembroke College (B.A., 1627), a school in the Cambridge University system. Williams became an Anglican minister and on Dec. 15, 1629, married Mary Barnard, the daughter of a Puritan clergyman. While at Pembroke, Williams was one of eight students granted a scholarship based on his excellence in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. This in-depth study of the biblical languages brought some questions to the mind of Williams about such issues as infant baptism, believer’s baptism, religious freedom, and separation of church and state.
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