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John Myles

MYLES, John, clergyman, born in Newton, Glamorganshire, South Wales, in 1621 ; died near Swan-sea, , Massachusetts, 3 February, 1683. He was matriculated at Brasenose college, Oxford, 11 March, 1636, began to preach about 1644-'5, was the founder of Swan-sea church, and soon became popular in the principality. He travelled extensively, forming new churches, and in 1651 was sent as a representative of the Welsh Baptist churches to the ministers' meeting in London. He returned with a letter from the London ministers recommending the formation of new churches. While in Wales he was an able advocate of strict communion, but in this country, although persecuted by the "standing order" in Massachusetts, his views became more liberal. In 1662 the act of uniformity was passed, and dissenters were severely persecuted in Wales. In 1663 Mr. Myles and several members of his church fled to New England. But in Boston he found no sympathy or "spiritual comfort," and, settling at Rehoboth, Massachusetts, he there organized a church in the house of John Butterworth. Very soon complaint was made, and on 2 July, 1667, Mr. Myles and James Brown were each fined five pounds "for setting up a public meeting without the knowledge and approbation of the court." Upon this Mr. Myles and his church removed to Barrington, Rhode Island. He built a house near the present Barneyville on Palmer's river, and during the Indian wars his house was the refuge of the people, and was called "Myles's garrison." A bridge over the river is still called Myles's bridge. The cat ho-lie spirit of Mr. Myles had drawn to his settlement many Baptists, as well as others, and ere long he obtained leave from the general court to form new township, which in honor of his old home in Wales he called Swansea. It was in Massachusetts, and among the corporators was Captain Thomas Willetts, who had been the first mayor of New York city, and who warmly joined with Mr. Myles in his efforts to advance the interests of the new town. In 1673 a school was organized, of which Mr. Myles was master. The troops first gathered in Swansea during the Indian war, and at its close the church of Mr. Myles was scattered, and he was compelled to seek support in other places. He went to Boston and preached there for some time, but in 1678 he returned to his old church. Mr. Myles was a cultured scholar and a popular preacher.

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