John Nelson Darby's house in Lonsdale Square

Early 19th century beginnings

The history of the Plymouth Brethren dates back to the early nineteenth century in England where there was growing dissatisfaction within the Anglican Church.

As a result of this feeling, a number of independent gatherings sprang up spontaneously in which men and women met together in a fellowship based upon the teachings of the New Testament and centred on the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion).

This brotherly fellowship or “Brethren” rejected an ecclesiastical arrangement and focused instead on the individual’s direct relationship with God and the emphasis this placed on personal responsibility. They met in simple meeting rooms for the Lord’s Supper and to join in prayer and preach the gospel.

By 1829 the first permanent meetings had been formed and the participants adopted the name Plymouth Brethren from the city of Plymouth, in southern England, where some of the most prominent new teachers were to be found.

John Nelson Darby and emigration to the New World

Foremost amongst these was John Nelson Darby, who was instrumental in forming new congregations in England, Ireland and throughout continental Europe. By the mid nineteenth century, congregation members had emigrated to the Americas, Africa, Australia and New Zealand and the foundation for a worldwide Christian fellowship had been established.

Our beliefs are founded on the Holy Bible, the text common to all Christian churches. This was formally recognised in the 1926 United States ‘Census of Religious Bodies’: “The body classified as Plymouth Brethren disclaim any designation whatever save those that the Scriptures apply to all believers as Christians. To accept any specific title would imply that they are a sect which they deny, sects or divisions being condemned in 1 Corinthians 1 v 10-15″.

If you require more historical facts about the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, feel free to drop us a line on our contact page – we look forward to hearing from you.