Between the years 1845 and 1848 a difference over the "independence" of local meetings resulted in the first division, causing a distinction to be made between the open brethren mainly referred to by the name "Plymouth Brethren" and the exclusive brethren.
Open brethren remain loosely affiliated and over the years have come to resemble Protestant evangelical churches in doctrine, except that there are no officially recognized clergy and the Lord's Supper is celebrated weekly - both of which are common to open and exclusive groups alike.
Exclusive brethren experienced numerous splits over disputes as to doctrine and various groups resulting from these still exist. But in 1953, upon the death of prominent teacher James Taylor Senior, a political power-struggle ensued. Within 10 years time a cult-like cell-structured movement, marked by extreme harshness and intolerance had emerged, led by James Taylor Junior, James H. Symington, John S. Hales, and currently Bruce D. Hales. This branch is not represented on the Internet as the current teaching forbids all use of computers, TV and radio, and their organization has strong mechanisms in place to ensure that this policy is followed. They are, however, allowed to read newspapers.
In 1970, extreme moral issues arising with leaders caused a "mass exodus". Some who left, and remained exclusive, either joined other exclusive groups or banded together as opposers of the "cult" and over the past 30 years have experienced a few divisions. Others took no side, joined no existing groups, and now meet in private homes in very small numbers.