52 residents in 52 weeks #28 William Mitchell

William Mitchell and his younger cousin David Crossley became independents and practicers of adult baptism in the last years of the 17th century, with Crosley being baptised in 1692. They established an itinerant preaching ministry in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire from their then base in Rossendale.

It is said that Mitchell was imprisoned twice under the Conventicle Act in the 1680s. One of these is said to have been after preaching at Goodshaw, north of Rawtenstall. I have not been able to verify that.

Crosley extended his circuit to include areas of the Midlands and South of England and eventually ended up in Cripplegate. Sadly his time there may have not been entirely straightforward, with rumours of excessive drinking and some indiscretion towards women.

Many of the preaching stations used by Mitchell and Crosley developed into nonconformist churches in their own right. Sion was one of these so Mitchell can be described at its co-founder. He was also the first pastor of Sion chapel, Cloughfold, serving from 1685 to 1699 when he was dismissed (probably over the issue of believer's baptism) and succeeded by Richard Ashworth. Mitchell became minister of Rawdon Church, Yorkshire.

He died in 1705 aged 42.

'Yet the principles for which [Mitchell] stood were gradually winning their way with the Cloughfold Church for, in the document transferring the house property from James Townend to the Church (in 1701) the community is described as Anabaptist'
(JS Hardman, Sion Baptist Church 300th Anniversary Handbook)

Crosley returned as Baptist minister in Bacup in 1702.