Robert Townley
9/30/1816 , Lancashire, England Death: 4/16/1894, Waukesha, Wisconsin



“the outward expression, or external meaning, is constructed throughout, in entire subserviency to the divine purpose.”

Starlight: “Todd may not ascribe to everything that Townley puts forth but it sure would have helped if he had paid more attention to what the guy wrote than carelessly thrown him out there with all his warts to shine forth.”

Author of the earliest known Full Preterist book
The Second Advent of Jesus Christ: A Past Event

Christianity in the Nineteenth Century A Sermon in the Universalist Church of Charlestown, Mass,. Sunday Morning, September 26  (1852) “We, on the contrary, fulfill every thing by that magic phrase, “the destruction of Jerusalem.” But can we really and seriously refer these passages which I have quoted from Paul, to the destruction Jerusalem? Can we truly say that the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, let that mean what it may, exhausted all their meaning —the meaning which was the thought in Paul’s mind when he wrote them? I must confess I cannot”  On leaving Preterist Universalism: “I fear that we are in a poor sickly way just now, by all I can read and hear. I fear we shall remain a sect without hope of ever being anything better. It does not look likely that the grub will ever come to be a butterfly.”


Preterist Commentaries By Modern Preterists



(On Mosaic Ordinances as “The Law” and “The Heavens and Earth”)
“Now, if at the destruction of Jerusalem there was a taking away of the first covenant; a removing of the old heaven and earth, and a burning up of the same ; and if sin, Satan, death, and hell have their true and scriptural meaning in reference only to the two covenants of Sinai and Sion, as consequent upon the Adamic transgression -and proof to the contrary is defied – if these things be so, then are we warranted in concluding that the time when the covenant of Sinai was everlastingly banished from the presence of God, and from the glory of his power,” being the destruction of Jerusalem, and every thing opposed to God being comprehended in that covenant, and having no Bible meaning out of that covenant that at the same destruction of Jerusalem all these the enemies were put under Christ’s feet, the fall of Jerusalem being, if his own words are authority, most indisputably his second coming to “reward every man according to his works.”  (p. 17)

“This was the originating cause of trouble then, from the man of sin, Antichrist, flesh, (the law, see Romans viii. 8,) the carnal mind, which was attached to the law, whose strength was sin, which was the sting of death, the wages of sin, of which death the devil had the power. “

“The Lord God, at the destruction of Jerusalem, made his foes his footstool; he completely abolished death, of whom it is said, in 1 Cor. 15, ” Death, the last enemy, is disabled” he took away entirely the first covenant, which was “the ministration of death,” that he might establish supremely the second, which was the ministration of life ; he removed the things which, in Paul’s day, ” were shaken, that the things which could not be shaken might remain.” (Heb. 9:27) “The heavens (of the Jewish church) passed away with a great noise; the elements (‘beggarly’) melted with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that were therein, (all that attached to the Mosaic economy, see Heb. 9:1-11,) were burned up, and the new heavens and new earth appeared,” (2 Peter 3.)

(On “the Millennium”)
“we conceive to be the scriptural doctrine of the Millennium, as confined to the period of the Apostolic ministry.”

(On the Resurrection)
“Now the resurrection, being part and parcel of that preaching of the gospel to which this promise was made, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the consummation of the age;” therefore the resurrection must be limited by the same consummation of the age, and must consequently be past, the Apostolic age and ministry being now no longer visible, and the promise of Christ being now of none effect. ”

(On the Church Institution)
“We object to the entire constitution of the various religious establishments of the day, because we believe that they all maintain the great foundation principle of Judaism, viz., an outward and visible church”

(On Samuel Lee)
“would that Professor Lee’s works formed part of a prescribed course of reading for ordination candidates.“

“I will take the liberty of transcribing one or two passages respecting the fall of Jerusalem, in order to show the correspondency between his views of the fulfillment of prophecy and my own”

We prove, and Dr. Lee admits, that “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ;” consequently the prediction must have been fulfilled.”




Preterist Commentaries By Preterist Idealists

“It is the easiest thing in the world, to prove Universalism or its opposite, or any doctrine, from texts of Scripture ; but it is tune this child’s play were ended. If the Bible be the word of God, then these contradictory texts are merely phenomenal; and what we want, if we must have a theology, is a law or rule which will resolve all the phenomena; and construct out of them one uniform system of doctrine. Such a law most probably underlies the spiritual theory of interpretation which I have sketched in this lecture. Such a law must be found, sooner or later; or nothing is more certain, than that the Christian religion will eventually sink to the level of a mere philosophy, cold and colorless; without life and without power; wanting the refreshing dews of heaven, and the warm sun.” (Modern Science)

(On the Supernatural intent)
“But it is becoming every day more evident to any thoughtful person, that liberal Christianity can only be consistent with itself, by denying the supernatural element altogether. It is mere natnralism in disguise — the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

(On “Inner” or “Spiritual” Meaning)
“There is nothing in that interpretation, but it is a mere fancy, unless it be demonstrably true that the word of God contains, and, in order to be the word of God, must contain,- in every part and particular of it, an inner or spiritual meaning which treats only of spiritual things — of God and man, and the interior and religious things of man; and also, that the outward expression, or external meaning, is constructed throughout, in entire subserviency to this divine purpose.”

(On Local Flood Theory Popular Among Universalists)
“In a late number of the Universalist Quarterly Review (October 1851) there is a paper which emphatically approves of the modern miserable theory of a local and partial deluge, as being the inspired teaching of the Word of God.” (p. 25)


Youngest Son Sidney Dean Townley

Sidney Dean Townley (April 10, 1867 – March 18, 1946) was an American astronomer and geodeticist.

He was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin to Reverend Robert Townley and his wife Mary Wilkinson. After the equivalent of a high school education, he gained a job as a clerk in the local town bank. A year and a half later he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He would graduate four years later with distinction, and become a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

During his second year at the university he took a course in astronomy. He was also given a room at the Washburn Observatory and worked nights as an assistant. These would serve to shape his interest in astronomy.

In his second year as a graduate student he was offered a Hearst fellowship at the Lick Observatory, which he accepted, arriving in 1892. In 1893, however, the fellowship funds were re-committed to an eclipse expedition to Chile, so he had to depart.

He became an instructor of astronomy, first at the University of Michigan, followed by the University of California. From 1893 until 1898 he worked at the Detroit Observatory, where he studied variable stars and comets.

By 1897 he gained his Sc.D. from the University of Michigan with a thesis on the “Orbit of Psyche”. In 1898 he spent a year on leave to travel through Germany, visiting major observatories in Berlin, Liepzig, and Munich. After his return he began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and was appointed director of the International Latitude Station at Ukiah, California. While there he developed an interest in geodesy, particularly seismology.

Townley was a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and served as its president in 1916, and also spent time as director and on the publication committee. He also joined the Seismological Society, and served at various times as president, secretary-treasurer, and editor of the society journal.

In 1911 he became an assistant professor at Stanford University. In a short time he became full professor, and would remain in that position until his retirement in 1932, thereafter becoming professor emeritus. Toward the end of his life he became an invalid, although he remained mentally alert until he died in Stanford, California.

During his career he published roughly 100 academic papers, and edited the contributions of many others. He was widely recognized for his editorial skills.

Townley crater on the Moon was named after him.


  • Sidney Dean Townley and Maxwell Wilford Allen, “Descriptive catalogue of earthquakes of the Pacific Coast of the United States, 1769 to 1928”, 1939, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 29.

  • Sidney Dean Townley, Annie Jump Cannon, and Leon Campbell, “Harvard catalogue of long period variable stars”, 1928, The Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.


  • Robert G. Aitken, “Sidney Dean Townley, 1867-1946”, 1946, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 58, No. 342.

  • Patricia S. Whitesell, “Detroit Observatory: nineteenth-century training ground for astronomers”, 2003, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 6(2).  (Wikipedia)

(1867 – 1946)

In the death of Sidney Dean Townley, Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, on March 16, the University lost one of the most conscientious and public-spirited members of its early faculty. Professor Townley was born on April 10, 1867, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and began his academic career in the University of Wisconsin. His first degree there, the B. Sc. in 1890, was followed by a fellowship in astronomy, then an assistantship in astronomy and mathematics, and the M.Sc. in 1892. For the next year he was Hearst Fellow in Astronomy at the University of California. Then he became Instructor in Astronomy at the University of Michigan, leaving to study for two years in Berlin and Munich, returning to Michigan in 1896, and receiving the degree of Doctor of Science in 1897. In 1898 he went to the University of California again, this time as Instructor in Practical Astronomy. While there he took charge of the International Latitude Observatory at Ukiah in 1903 and became Lecturer in Astronomy in 1904. In 1907 he came to Stanford, where he has remained except for the year 1925-26, when he was visiting Lecturer in Astronomy at Harvard. Professor Townley’s astronomical interests included not only practical astronomy and variations of latitude, already mentioned, but also asteroids, comets, and variable stars. In variable stars, an especially notable contribution was the “Harvard Catalogue of Long Period Variable Stars,” published in 1928 by Professor Townley in collaboration with Miss Annie J. Cannon and Mr. Leon Campbell. Concurrently with his astronomical work, at least from 1911 onward, Professor Townley conducted researches in seismology. This work included the management of the Branner Seismometer Station, from 1928 until his death. In 1939, seven years after his retirement, his series of more than one hundred research papers culminated in a monumental work, prepared in collaboration with Mr. Maxwell Wallen entitled “A Descriptive Catalogue of the Earthquakes of the Pacific Coast of the United States, 1769 to 1928.” This last work is made especially valuable by a quality, characteristic of all of Professor Townley’s work, namely, extreme thoroughness and conscientiousness. Files of old newspapers were searched for every shred of information; witnesses to earthquakes were interviewed whenever possible; and the accounts from all sources were critically examined and appraised. In short, the work is described by one of the most eminent of living seismologists as “just as complete and just as good as it can possibly be made,” so that in it the study of Pacific Coast earthquakes up to 1928 is “done, once for all.”

The same conscientious thoroughness was shown by Professor Townley as Chief Editor of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, from 1911 to 1930, during which time the Bulletin was noted for its good editorial work. He also served this society as Secretary-Treasurer for the same period, and as President 1935. Other scientific societies of which he was a member included the Astronomical Society, the Astronomische Gesellschaft, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Wisconsin Academy; and he was especially active in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, of which he was President in 1916. As a teacher, Professor Townley kept astronomy alive at Stanford, despite the lack of an observatory, and not only alive but vitally interesting to large classes, year after year. Among students he was noted, not only for this achievement, but also for his kindliness and at the same time for the unswerving justice of his grades. Other educational work by Professor Townley included twenty years of service on the local school boards, both for the Palo Alto Union High School, for which he became President of the ‘Board., and the Stanford Elementary School. In both schools the present fine buildings were constructed largely under his guidance. Throughout all these activities Professor Townley was modest and unassuming, never asserting himself in his own interest, though always ready to stand up vigorously for the rights of the University or the scientific societies and schools whose interests he was obligated to protect. These qualities, with his kindliness and high ideals, won him, the admiration and respect of his many friends. Be it resolved, therefore, that with a deep sense of appreciation of his loyalty and service to the University, the community, and science, this memorial of Professor Townley’s achievements be recorded in the minutes of the Academic Council and a copy be transmitted to his family.

D. L. Webster J. Uspensky

Diary of a student of the University of Wisconsin, 1886 to 1892

The diary frcn which these extracts have been made was started for
no particular reason and without any particular occasion, on October 1,
1885w The recorder was at that time a clerk in the Waukesha National
Bank at Waukesha, Wisconsin. The record is made in a book obtained from
the Waukesha National Bank. This bank was established in 1855 as the
Waukesha County Bank.  Sone years later the name was changed to the Wau-
ke-,ha Fational Bank, and when this was done. it became necessary to pur-
chase new stationary, books, etc.   In 188v, during a house cleaning at
the bank, the recorder rescued an old unused book of blank certificates
of deposit of the former Waukesha County Bank. There are four blank
certificates and stubs to the page, and the pages are not per:orate:do
The book is 11 by 15 inches in size and contains 420 leaves. The Diary
is recorded on the backs of these certificates and the book is known affec-
tionately in the recorder’s family as the "little book".
The recorderi
ansed himself at times by filling out some of these blank certificates
of deposit, mostly made payable to himself. The largest amount is for
$100,O00. A very modest youth.

Of course we are collecting here only extracts from the Diary.   It
is hoped to have these prepared by June, -1940, when tho fiftieth reunion
of the Class of Ninety takes place.   It is thought that thoy may be of in-
tarest to members of the clas4, and that they may be of some small histor-
ical valueo Thaso two poasibilitios soom to be sufficiont justification
for the publictation.

The Diary contains many references to members of the recorder’s fam-
ily, whieh of course cannot be of interest except to them. These refer-
ences in general will be omitted.

A considerable number of clippings from newspapers have been pasted
in the Diary* Some of them are on the question of free trade versus pro-
tection, which was a favorite subject of debate fifty years ago. The re-
corder’s father was an ardent advocate of free trade*

During part of the time of his residence at the University of ‘Wiscon-
sin, the recorder was Madison correspondent for The Wiaukesha World, a
weekly newspaper published during the late 1880’s. Some of these contri-.
butions are pasted in the Diary a~nd are considered a part of it. They are
signed Yelnwot.


Roscoe Townley Nichols, the leading physician and popular mayor of Liberal, Kan., is one of the men of the medical profession endowed by nature with marked mental powers, a comprehensive knowledge of medicine and sympathy as wide as the universe, thus meeting all the requirements of the ideal doctor, and today is the respected and loved family physician of many homes in his city and surrounding country. He was born in Wayne county, Iowa, February 20, 1881, the son of Herman Vedder and Alice Townley Nichols. Dr. Nichols’s paternal grandparents were of German stock, a race that has furnished this country so many excellent citizens. His father was born in New York State April 6, 1851. He chose medicine as his profession and while still a young man removed to Wisconsin, practicing a few years in Waukesha. In 1872 he located in Wayne county, Iowa, where he was engaged in professional work nine years, and then opened an office at Trenton, Mo., living there until 1889. That year the doctor and his family came to Seward county to settle on government land near Liberal. Dr. Nichols gave up medicine and engaged in farming until 1895, when, with his family, he went to Manhattan, Kan., to place his five children in the State agricultural college. Three years later, in 1898, he returned to Liberal and resumed the practice of medicine. In the meantime he read law and was admitted to the bar in Seward county, but never practiced. Dr. Nichols ever took an active part in the life of his community and politics, representing his district in the State legislature. He was a stanch member of the Republican party, being elected on that ticket. In 1901 he went to Alaska, where he was engaged in the active practice of his profession until November 3, 1907, when he died of heart failure, and was buried at Fairbanks. During his life the doctor was a member of the Masonic order. On June 25, 1872, Dr. Herman Nichols married Alice Townley at Waukesha, Wis. She was the daughter of Robert and Mary Townley, residents of Wisconsin. Mrs. Nichols was born near Boston, Mass., March 23, 1851, and became the mother of seven children: Schuyler, born November 14, 1875, a graduate of the Kansas State Agricultural College, with the class of 1898, a graduate of the Barnes Medical College of St. Louis in 1901, and now practices medicine at Herrington; Harriet Grace, born December 22, 1878, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College in 1898, now the wife of Rome P. Donahoo, a prominent Democrat of Tucumcari, N. M.; Roscoe; Lillian, born February 5, 1886, died on December 14, 1888; Gladys Irene, born April 23, 1888, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College in 1910, now the wife of Edward Dearborn, an electrical engineer who lives in Kansas City, Mo.; Jessie, born December 8, 1891, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College with the class of 1912, and Victor, born May 16, 1896, who died January 30, 1901.

Roscoe Nichols received his elementary education in the public schools of Liberal, and in 1895 entered the State agricultural college, graduating there in 1899, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. Having determined to become a physician he entered Barnes Medical College, at St. Louis, where he studied two years before entering the medical department of Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill., graduating there in 1902. Upon leaving college the young doctor returned to Liberal, forming a partnership with his brother, Schuyler, who removed to Herrington in 1905, since which time Dr. Roscoe Nichols has assumed sole charge of their practice, which has increased in a flattering and satisfactory manner. Today Dr. Nichols is recognized as one of the leading members of the medical fraternity in the Southwest. He is a man of great mental ability, which was recognized by the people of Liberal when they elected him mayor of the city in April, 1911, an office he has filled with merit. In addition to his practice, the doctor is also the local physician of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. He is a Knight Templar Mason, and belongs to the Wichita Consistory, No. 2. On May 3, 1903, Dr. Nichols married Osa, the daughter of L. F. Clark, of Seward county. Mrs. Nichols was born at Unionville, Mo., October 12, 1881. She has three children: Harry Dale, born March 15, 1904; Alice Cecelia, born August 22, 1905, and Roscoe Townley, Jr., born December 14, 1907. November 5, 1912, Dr. Nichols was elected representative from Seward county to the State legislature on the Democratic ticket, in a county normally Republican.

Pages 586-588 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. … / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM467. It is a single volume 3.

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Submitted by Starlight on Wed, 03/21/2007 – 10:23.

II do thank Todd for his work on the database and by bringing forth Townley to us I believe he has presented us with a perfect example of where inconsistent Preterism leads. f you noticed Townley moved from position to position, starting out as a futurist, partial preterist, full preterist, universalist and finally Preterist Idealism. Where his journey failed him is he did not consistently apply the Preterist hermeneutic to the Old Testament. This is exactly what happens in the Preterist movement today. They get their NT down right but go brain dead when it comes to Genesis. That is exactly why Townley threw up his arms in despair with Genesis. He knew how to handle the language in Revelation but he forgot how to hit the curve ball in Genesis. Instead he threw the baby out with the bath water to allow him to develop a system that would work for him intellectually. He fell into the same old trap that most YEC do today in that he thought it had to be literal or nothing. He never considered it may be similar language that is found scattered throughout the scriptures called apocalyptic. That is the reason we need to pay more attention to Revelation as it clues us in by telling us again about the tree of life and removal of the curse. You see there is a better way than Townley’s it’s called consistent Preterism.

Date: 27 May 2007
Time: 17:14:53


Thank you for putting this website up. Rev. Robert Townley is my ggg-grandfather and I have found this site to be an extremely interesting and invaluable insight into his life and beliefs. While I know that’s not why it’s here, it is greatly appreciated, nonetheless.

Date: 10 Mar 2010
Time: 09:07:12

Your Comments:

My name is Colette Hurley. Robert Townley is my ggg-grandfather also. There are so many cousins we don’t know. My grandmother was Ione Townley, daughter of Robert Townley, also named Robert Townley. I believe my gg to be the oldest son of Robert and Mary. I am on facebook. I would like to locate other family members. We live in Washington D.C

Date: 16 Oct 2011
Time: 11:35:49

Your Comments:

Preterism, what would we do without it, feel a great deal happier, for one.

Consistancy can only come from a straight view and adoption of the fundamentals of The Faith, having them as the starting point and basis of our understanding. Where many go amiss is that they do not hold true to the fundamentals, keep them in their eye. Preterism is completely wrong, along with pre-millinnialism, when held up to the light of truth

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