William Screven emigrated to Boston from Somerton, England, about the year 1668. He became a successful merchant of the city. Desiring to form a dissenters’ church in Boston, he was informed that he would be violating the laws of Massachusetts Bay Colony. He moved to Kittery in the Province of Maine. After Massachusetts acquired the area of Maine, the authorities began to watch Screven closely because of his Baptist views.
Ultimately, Screven was charged first with not attending meetings on the Lord’s Day, from which he was exonerated. Later he was charged with making blasphemous speeches against the “holy order of pedobaptism”. Screven spent some time in jail for refusing to pay a bond of £100.
Evidently, he had become weary of the persecution, and not being able to find liberty of conscience nor freedom to worship God in Maine, Screven and his associates determined to seek freedom elsewhere.
After forming a church out of the Baptist church in Boston, most of Screven’s congregation took ship for the Carolinas. They settled on the Cooper River not far from the present city of Charleston. The move to Charleston took place by 1693. This was the first Baptist church of the South.
No Baptist church was traceable in Kittery after Screven and his company departed. In fact, nearly a century passed before one could find another Baptist church within the bounds of what is not the state of Maine.
E. Wayne Thompson, This Day in Baptist History