Early British Christianity
Christianity came to Britain during the first century, through the family of Caractacus, and in particular through the ministry of his daughter Claudia.
On a hill called Caer Caradoc, at Church Stretton in Shropshire, the Welsh king Caractacus, leader of the combined British forces, made his last stand against the Romans. He was defeated and taken to Rome in chains, where he made a speech to the Senate claiming that he had done nothing wrong, and had only defended his realm as any king would do. He was well treated in comparison with other defeated kings, and was allowed to return to Britain as a puppet king under Roman rule.
He was accompanied on his journey to Rome by members of his family including his daughter Gladys who was re-named Claudia. His son Linus is thought to have arrived later when things were more peaceful. Linus and Claudia both became actively involved in the early church. Linus became the first Bishop of Rome, and Claudia married a Roman Senator called Rufus Pudens. It was probably in the house of Pudens where the Apostle Paul spent his last two years and received visitors. Pudens, Linus and Claudia are all mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:21. Details of the story, together with a number of sources, are given by Malcolm Bowden (1).
Claudia returned to Britain as a successful missionary and made many converts to Christianity. Jonathan Davis (2) in his abridged translation of the work of Joshua Thomas and other Welsh historians, describes the ministry of Claudia and others as follows:
Whether any of the apostles ever preached in Britain cannot be proved, and though it is generally believed that Joseph of Arimathea was the first that preached the gospel in that part of the world, we must confess that we are not positive on that subject. The fact, we believe, is this: the Welsh lady, Claudia, and others, who were converted under Pauls ministry in Rome, carried the precious seed with them, and scattered it on the hills and vallies of Wales; and since that time, many thousands have reaped a most glorious harvest. They told their countrymen around, what a dear Savior they had found; they pointed to his redeeming blood, as the only way whereby they might come to God.
The Welsh can truly say: if by the transgression of a woman sin came into the world, it was through the instrumentality of a woman, even painted Claudia, that the glorious news of the gospel reached their ears, and they felt it to be mighty through God, to pull down the strong holds of darkness.
How rapidly did the mighty gospel of Christ fly abroad! The very year 63, when Paul, a prisoner, was preaching to a few individuals, in his own hired house in Rome, the seed sowed there is growing in the Isle of Britain. We have nothing of importance to communicate respecting the Welsh Baptists, from this period to the year 180, when two ministers by the names of Faganus and Damicanus, who were born in Wales, but were born again in Rome, and there becoming eminent ministers of the gospel, were sent from Rome to assist their brethren in Wales.
In the same year, Lucius, the Welsh king, and the first king in the world who embraced the Christian religion, was baptized.
Faganus and Damicanus were two faithful witnesses, bearing testimony to the truth, and were remarkably successful in winning souls to Christ. Through their instrumentality, the light of the gospel burst forth from the Isle of Anglesea to the Isle of Thanet, like the sun in the morning after the dark night of Druidism; the glorious light of the gospel dispelled the shades of ignorance and error, in which the seed of Gomer had been enveloped from generation to generation. Fired with a sacred zeal for the cause of Christ, and the welfare of immortal souls, our Welsh apostles followed the superstitions and cruelties of paganism to their most secret chambers, and exposed them in their native deformity.
This is just a small part of Britain's forgotten history. It's possible to go back much further, to the arrival of Brutus in the 11th century BC and possibly even as far back as the Flood. The best place to start, for anyone who wants to study this subject, is Bill Cooper's "After the Flood" (3).
2. The History of the Welsh Baptists, from the Year 63 to the Year 1770, Jonathan Davis, D.M. Hogan, Pittsburgh, 1835. Facsimile reprint 1982 by Church History Research & Archives, 220 Graystone Drive, Gallatin, Tennessee 37066, USA.