Virginia History Series
Historical Hall of Fame: Robert Baylor Semple (1769-1831) was a "Renowned Baptist Historian & Ordained Minister of
Robert Baylor Semple is best known as the father of Virginia Baptist history. In September 1810, Semple released a book entitled:A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia. The publication of this monumental treatise on Virginia Baptist history
secured Semple's place in the annals of religious history writing.
Robert Semple began life as the youngest son of John
Semple a Scottish immigrant and Elizabeth Walker Semple. Robert Semple grew up in a family that devoutly followed the precepts of
Virginia's Established Church. He even had an uncle who became an Anglican clergyman. Semple received a classical education and he
excelled in Latin and Greek. For a time he followed in his father's footsteps and sought a degree in law.
At the age of twenty,
he was baptized into the company of Baptists by
Theodoric Noel. Within a year of his baptism, Semple received ordination and thereafter
the one hundred-fifty mmbers of Bruington Baptist church elected him their pastor where he served until his death in 1831.
Robert Baylor Semple’s History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (originally published in 1810; was extended and
revised by G. W. Beale in 1894).