Edmund Hamer Broadbent was born in Lancashire, England, in 1861. Through his personal study of the new Testament while still in his teens, he was convinced of the need to follow the pattern for the church found there. In his early twenties, business took him to Berlin, where he began a long and fruitful ministry to believers all across Europe and into Asia. His travels and research made him aware that since apostolic times there had always been movements to form local churches after the apostolic pattern, and he felt it would be useful to collect what could be known about them in an orderly sequence. This resulted in the publication of The Pilgrim Church. Broadbent was active in ministry until shortly before his death in 1945.
Next, I will include just a little of the introduction by Dave Hunt (who is so dear to the heart of both Catholics and Calvinists ;)
Edmund Hamer Broadbent (1861-1945) lived at a time when documents and books--many of them now lost or very rare--which told the true story of the Christian church could still be found. His scholarship is attested to by the scores of books in several languages available in his day, from which he drew much of the vital information he has passed on to us. The Pilgrim Church of which he writes so eloquently and accurately was persecuted to the death for a thousand years before the Reformation. The story has been almost lost to the present generation and desperately needs to be retold.
The earliest groups of whom he writes were not "Protestants' (a disparaging epithet which only came into existence at the Reformation), but simple Christians who sought to follow God's Word as their final authority....
In addition to the story of these early Christians, Broadbent includes also the chronicle of those who came out of the Reformation. And he brings the history of the Pilgrim Church into the early 1900's. This is not an account of denominations, but of the Christian faith and those who sought to adhere to Scripture in their practice of Christianity, not only independently of Rome but of Protestant authorities as well. Their failures are faithfully recorded along with their triumphs.
Much of the history of faith and persecution the author uncovered in his wide travels was the precious possession of believers to whom it was handed down from generation to generation by the descendants of those who remained true to Christ in times when the popes still controlled the known world. Broadbent has searched out the information and preserved it in this valuable volume. He did not write merely on the basis of historical library research, though he did a great deal of that; he wrote also from a very wide and practical experience. He was fluent in French and German and had some knowledge of Russian; and his zeal to preach the gospel took him throughout Europe, the Baltics and Russia and as far East as Turkestan and Uzbekistan, into Turkey, Egypt and North and South America.
In the course of preaching the gospel and establishing groups of Christian converts who sought to follow the Scriptures independently of the state churches which had come out of the Reformation, Broadbent had contact with many believers whose ancestors had been part of the very Pilgrim Church of which he wrote He also had firsthand experience of the persecution which for centuries those who had ever been part of "official Christianity" had endured....
Broadbent's passion for adhering strictly to Scripture was evident in the many independent churches which he was privileged to found nearly everywhere he went. Another of his great joys was to discover throughout his travels groups of believers who, while unaware of thousands of other similar groups around the world, held in common the desire to follow the Lord and His Word alone rather than a man or organization. Thus he had firsthand contact with the Pilgrim Church of which he wrote and saw what he considered to be biblical Christianity in practice in a wide variety of settings and cultures.