Papers of Gordon W. Simmonds

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 GWS
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      0.5 lm, 4 boxes
  • Location
      University Archive and Records Centre, main Library.

Scope and Content

The collection contains articles, notes, ministry and correspondence relating to the 'Exclusive Brethren' in the middle of the twentieth century. There are numerous circulars which provide insights into Brethren thought, along with the personal testimony of Gordon Simmonds, who broke with the Brethren in 1965 and continued for some time afterwards to reflect upon Brethren beliefs and his personal responses.

The collection is of value to anyone interested in the thought and experiences of the 'Exclusive' wing of the Brethren movement in the twentieth century. The separatist nature of the Exclusives mean that material of this type is not readily available elsewhere.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gordon W. Simmonds was born on 1st February 1933 in Croyden, Surrey, where both of his parents were associated with the 'Exclusive Brethren'. His father was a slater and tiler, and just before the outbreak of the war, the family moved to Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloustershire in order for him to obtain work. They remained in Stow until his father's death in 1949. It was during this period that Gordon was received into fellowship with the Brethren. According to Gordon, the atmosphere among the Stow Brethren was unpleasant, and personal animosity culminated in the excommunication of his father. Despite this his father continued to attend meetings, intervening when he believed that remarks were aimed at him. It was at one such meeting where his father intervened, that 'a scuffle ensued', following which his father felt unwell, dying soon afterwards at the age of 49. Following these events, the family moved to Beckenham in Kent, and later to Tolworth, Surrey. On his marriage in 1962, Gordon moved to nearby Purley. He and his wife broke with the 'Exclusive Brethren' in 1965. They continued to attend Bible readings with like minded Brethren, but remained outside of any formal religious bodies.


The collection had been divided into 5 series:

  • Manuscript Notebooks
  • Spiral Bound Typescript Booklets
  • Correspondence and Notes
  • Circulars of George Rogers
  • Circulars of A.P. Aris

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Gordon Simmonds

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

Most of the material is made up of the personal papers of Gordon W. Simmonds donated directly to the John Ryland s University Library. The various documents relating to Algy Aris were given to Mr. Simmonds by Mr Aris before his death.


B.R. Wilson, 'The Exclusive Brethren: A Case Study in the Evolution of a Sectarian Ideology' in B.R. Wilson (ed.), Patterns of Sectarianism (London: Heineman, 1967).

B.R. Wilson, '"The Brethren": A Current Sociological Appraisal', (Sheffield: Duplicopy, 1981).

Roger Shuff, Searching for the True Church (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2005).