Correcting Mistakes, Part 2

Correcting Mistakes, Part 2

by Oscar Burdick

Note from Nick: This is the second of three articles begun last month correcting significant errors published about English SDB history found in Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, Volume 1 and 2, which was published by the General Conference in 1910.
We remind you that a document containing corrections (listed by page numbers) is available on the Historical Society’s website: www.sdbhistory.org. These corrections spring from Oscar Burdick’s extensive work on this subject over many years as he has researched to write an authoritative work on English SDBs.
• About the assertion that John Traske was a Seventh Day Baptist in 1617, and started the Mill Yard SDB church (an assertion which has been frequently repeated in sources beyond SDBs in Europe and America):
John Traske kept the Seventh Day Sabbath only briefly; his only publication about it was his recantation (published in 1620). He was not a Baptist. There is no Traske organic or personal connection with Seventh Day Baptists.
The incorrect connection of Traske to “Mill Yard” came through two men with the surname Coppinger, one of whom was supposed to have been a follower of Traske, and then another who was subsequently a member at “Mill Yard” in the 1650s. Subsequent investigation has proven that these were actually two men with different first names, neither of whom was ever associated with Traske or his followers.
Edmund Coppinger’s name appears very near Traske’s in a book by Ephraim Pagitt (Heresiography, published in 1662), which led some to falsely conclude there was a connection between the two, though Edmund died in 1591 in prison. Matthew Coppinger was a Sabbathkeeper who participated in a public debate about the Sabbath along with two prominent SDBs in 1659.
With this information—that Traske was never a Baptist, and that the supposed connection between Traske and “Mill Yard” through Coppinger does not exist—the only conclusion is that the 1617 date for the founding of the Mill Yard, London, congregation is also not correct. It is likely that the proper date of the “Mill Yard” congregation would be 1657 or before.
• About the end of the Traske movement:
According to a 26 December 1634 letter, “only two or three women do now uphold” Traske’s teachings; two of them being Mrs. Traske and her nurse… As of 1635 of his four “messengers” or leaders, “three are now dead, the fourth hath renounced these things.” Mrs. Traske, a Sabbath-keeper, died in prison about 1643 or 1644.
It was reported in 1662, “So there is the end of her Sect, in less than half a generation, ‘tis true, it begins of late to be revived again; but yet faintly; the progress it makes is not observed to be much….” This later comment seems to reflect the Seventh Day Baptist movement in the 1650s.

 

Oscar Burdick is an ordained Seventh Day Baptist minister and a member of the Bay Area, California, Seventh Day Baptist Church. He is retired as Librarian for Collection Development of the Graduate Theological Union Library in Berkeley and 2007 recipient of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society’s Gold Headed Cane award.

 

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