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The Origins of Daily Light

The origins of "Daily Light on the Daily Path" are inextricably connected to the Bagster family and the publishing company which bore the same name - Samuel Bagster & Sons Ltd.

Samuel Bagster was born on 26th December 1772, the second son of George and Mary Bagster of Lyme Regis, Dorset on the south coast of England. Samuel’s father George Bagster was a member of a congregation led by Dr Andrew Gifford; a Baptist minister, a notable antiquarian and an assistant librarian at the British Museum. It was within this congregation that George Bagster was to meet John Birch, who ultimately became Samuel's father-in-law.

When Samuel was seven years old he was sent away to school with the Reverend John Collett Ryland, Baptist minister and father to his more famous son (also) John Ryland.

Samuel was apprenticed to a bookseller in The Strand, after which time he he took the entrepreneurial step of opening his own bookshop at No 81 The Strand on 19th April 1794, when he was still only twenty-one years old.

Unsurprisingly, given this very specific Christian background, Samuel committed to never selling any book which might be considered questionable in taste or subject – an approach which set him apart from the general run of society, even (and perhaps especially) by eighteenth century standards.

Samuel Bagster and Eunice Birch were married at the parish church of “St Giles in the Field” on the 19th December 1797. Eunice was said to be a “brave” woman of equally high principles and a steadfast faith – a real helpmeet to her husband throughout their long married life. She died on the day before her hundredth birthday in 1877. Only a few months earlier she had been honoured by a personal visit from Queen Victoria, who knelt at Mrs Bagster’s bedside to receive the blessing of her “revered and venerable servant”.

Samuel and Eunice had twelve children – but it was their tenth child Jonathan who was primarily responsible for the idea and method by which Daily Light was compiled. Jonathan was the “editor-in-chief”, while his daughter Ann was his chief assistant.

The practice of corporate worship had always been followed in the Bagster family. Jonathan Bagster would normally select a passage, and in the context of family prayer, other family members would contribute further illustrative verses. These compilations were then carefully discussed, arranged and considered until agreement was reached. The resultant manuscript would then be put aside...

... to be completed!... and formatted.

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