John Norcott

This information is from the PhD Thesis of G. Stephen Weaver, Jr. December 2013; Hercules Collins: Orthodox, Puritan, Baptist. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary . Used by permission

John Norcott was the second pastor of the Wapping congregation, having followed John Spilsbury upon his death in either 1662 or 1668.79 By 1670 Norcott was in the pulpit of the Wapping congregation since a spy report published in an official state paper indicates that he was preaching at Old Gravel Lane on July 1, 1670.80 Little had been known about Norcott before his becoming pastor of the Wapping church. However, the English Dissent scholar Geoffrey Nuttall has suggested that this same John Norcott had previously held a post in the Church of England at St. Margaret’s parish in Hertforshire from 1657 until 1662 when he was ejected for his nonconformity.81 Norcott continued in the pastorate of the Wapping Congregation until his death in 1676. Benjamin Keach, who was apparently a close friend, preached Norcott’s funeral sermon and wrote both an elegy and an epitaph in honor of his friend whom he called "a sweet and Godly Preacher."82 Norcott contributed to the seventeenth-century literature on baptism with his Baptism Discovered Plainly and Faithfully, According to the Word of God (1672). This was the only work which he ever published, but it had a long life, being reprinted ten times.83 The last edition was published over two hundred years after the first printing and was "Corrected and Somewhat Altered" by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.84 Whereas Spilsbury’s work was largely a response to paedobaptist critiques, Norcott’s work was a much more positive biblical treatment of the subject of baptism.

79. The date of Spilsbury’s death is unknown. According to Renihan, it could have been "as early as 1662 or as late as 1668." Renihan, "John Spilsbury (1593–c. 1662/1668)," 25.
80. Ernest F. Kevan, London's Oldest Baptist Church: Wapping 1633—Walthamstow 1933 (London: Kingsgate Press, 1933, 37-38.
81. Geoffrey F. Nuttall, "Another Baptist Ejection (1662): The Case of John Norcott," in Pilgrim Pathways: Essays in Baptist History in Honour of B.R. White, ed. William H. Brackney and Paul S. Fiddes with John H.Y. Briggs (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1999), 185-88.
82. Benjamin Keach, A Summons to the Grave, or the Necessity of a Timely Preparation for Death. Demonstrated in a Sermon Preached at the Funeral of that most Eminent and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ Mr. John Norcot. Who Departed this Life March 24, 1676 (London: Ben. Harris, 1676), "An Epitath" unnumbered p. 15 of prefatory material. This sermon is significant as it is apparently Keach’s first published sermon. For a description of this sermon, see Walker, The Excellent Benjamin Keach, 176-80.
83. 1675, 1694, 1700, 1709, 1721, 1722, 1723, 1740, 1801, and 1878.
84. John Norcott, Baptism Discovered Plainly and Faithfully, According to the Word of God (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1878), title page.


G. Stephen Weaver, Jr. is currently the Pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church, Frankfot, KY, USA. His personal website is Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian. He also maintains the website