There were Anglican Christians who believed that the Church of England had not gone far enough to correct the errors and abuses that had crept into the church. Some who felt strongest about this decided they must leave the Church of England and became known as Separatists.
Separatist John Smyth organized the first Baptist church in 1609. The name was given to them because of their practice of only baptizing believers. If salvation is by faith than the person being baptized must have faith. This is known as soul competency. Each person is free to accept or reject Christ.
These early Baptists contributed other significant reformations to the Christian faith. They believed in the autonomy of the local church; the Bible does not dictate any authority over the local church other than Jesus Christ. Baptists also championed religious liberty for all; the state should not interfere in the affairs of the church.
Other groups held these beliefs but it was this unique combination along with tenets inherited from the Protestant Reformation that continue to define Baptists. Following the principle of ecclesia semper reformanda est, Baptists throughout history have used the Bible to ensure that there doctrine and practice was pure. This led to many divisions among Baptists ever the years but the freedom to examine the scriptures and act accordingly still continues. This may explain why whenever you have two Baptists you get three opinions.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.