Separatists a general term which may be considered as meaning dissenters from the Church of England, but also applied at different periods to certain sects as the special name by which they chose to be known.
1. In the reign of bloody Mary, the name was given to two congregations of Protestants who refused to conform to the service of the mass. Mr. Rose was minister of the one which met in Bow-church Yard, London, where thirty of them were apprehended in the act of receiving the Lord's supper, and narrowly escaped being committed to the flames. The other and much larger congregation was discovered at Islington, and Mr. Rough, its minister, and several others were burned by order of bishop Bonner.
2. In Ireland there are three distinct bodies of Separatists. The Walkerites, founded by Rev. John Walker, who seceded from the Established Church of Ireland and formed a small Church in Dublin on the principle of holding no communion with any other sect. They profess to found their principles entirely upon the New Test., and to be governed wholly by its laws. On doctrinal points they agree with the Sandemanians (q.v.). They hold that by his revealed word the spirit of God works in them, both to will and to do; that God is the sole author and agent of everything that is good; and maintain that everything that comes from the sinner himself, either before or after conversion, is essentially evil; that the idea of any successors to the apostles, or of any change in the law of Christ's kingdom, is utterly unchristian. They have, therefore, no clerical order. Another body of Irish Separatists was originated by Rev. Mr. Kelly, who seceded from the Established Church, and was soon after joined by Rev. George Carr, of New Ross. The few churches belonging to this sect hold the same order and discipline as the Sandemanians, though in doctrine they approach more nearly to the evangelical dissenters. The Darbyites, followers of the Rev. Mr. Darby, who combined strict evangelical doctrines with the peculiar tenets of the Millenarians. From these sprang the Plymouth Brethren (q.v.).
3. A German Pietist sect at Wurtemberg who separated themselves from the Lutheran Church about the middle of the 18th century. Meeting with much opposition and persecution, a number of them, under George Rapp, emigrated to Pennsylvania, and formed the Harmony Society. In 1815 they removed to Indiana, where they remained only two years, and, selling their property, returned to Pennsylvania, and in Beaver County built a town called Economy, where they have amassed considerable property. SEE RAPPISTS. Those who remained in Germany, after much opposition, were allowed to form a congregation at Kornthal, and became known as Kornthalites. SEE KORNTHAL, SOCIETY OF. Those who refused to conform to the German Evangelical Union, formed by Frederick William III of Prussia, were also called Separatists.
4. The name was assumed by some of the early Puritans, perhaps the early Traskites (q.v.). In their principles, condemning taste in dress, joyousness of life, etc., we recognize the class of Puritans afterwards represented by the Quakers. There were a few congregations of Separatists in Scotland, and one was commenced in London in 1820. See Blunt, Dict. of Sects, s.v.; Gardner, Faiths of the World, s.v.