A prime motivation for the establishment of this site has been to create a platform from which to seek to set right many of the myths and fallacies in the folklore which numerous historians seem to present in the literature as factual.

One such myth is a tale of John Wroe claiming he would walk on water, but when he failed to do this claiming it was merely a baptism. Below is a rebuttle of the most common forms of this tale.

Apperley Bridge and the River Aire.

Newspapers have never been a very reliable source for historical information.  Firstly you have the fact that the article is the writer’s interpretation of an event.  Secondly you have personal bias and gossip which add to the articles appeal to a wider readership.  The newspapers of the 1800's were used as an effective mechanism to ridicule John Wroe even though their interpretation of the ‘truth’ was much in error.  The newspapers wanted readers and how better to get readers than to give a person some notoriety which they didn’t deserve.  One of these instances is John Wroe’s baptism in the River Aire.  This event was advertised through fliers and stated that John Wroe was to be baptized in the River Aire and the date.  The papers reporting of this event stated that John Wroe was going to part the waters, as Moses did, or walk on water as Jesus did. 

It is also claimed that 30,000 people watched this event.  How do you count 30,000 people?  How do 30,000 people see a man baptized in a river when there is only one bridge that wouldn’t possibly hold them?  John Wroe’s journal tells us that thousands of people witnessed his baptism, but thousands is a long way removed from 30,000.  Again the answer is literary creative licence to make the event more dramatic.  Remember you couldn’t sue a newspaper in those days – papers could print what they wanted.  There was also a fair percentage of the population that couldn’t read or write, nor afford the cost of a newspaper, so the newspaper was very much modeled to the upper classes, rather than the working class. 

The parish of Bradford is very extensive, being fifteen miles in length, and from five to six in breadth, and comprehends thirteen townships and chapelries, which 1821 contained  52,954 inhabitants, and in 1831, 76,996, of which last number 23,233 were returned for the township of Bradford.  So the newspapers expect the readers to believe that not only the entire town of Bradford but also 7,777 people from the surrounding districts journeyed to watch this event!!!  These figures do make much sense.

Below please find a copy of the flier distributed about John Wroe’s baptism.  One particular website had the flier on ( , but when complaints were made about what the flier said and what the article said their answer was to remove the original flier.  Fiction, for some reason, makes better newspaper sales and internet viewers than fact.  It is interesting to see that the book recently published by Edward Green ( repeats the exaggerated reportings from the newspapers.

The public are respectfully informed
John Wroe
The prophet of the Lord,
Will be
Publicly Baptised in the River Aire,
Near Idle Thorpe
At half past one oclock,
On Sunday, the 21st day of the 2nd month,
1824, at which holy ordinances appropriate
hymns (accompanied by a select band of
music) will be sung, and immediately after,
William Twigg,
One of the witnesses mentioned in Revelation,
chap. ii., will preach the everlasting Gospel,
as revealed by the Redeemer of the World.

No mention of dividing the waters.

No mention of walking on water.

John Wroe did what he said he was going to do, he was baptized.


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