How the wicked treated the godly Mr. Wickenden
The date of the paper entitled “Classis of Amsterdam” was signed by two clergymen of the Dutch Reformed Church on Long Island, New York on August 5, 1657. The Dutch Reformed Church being the established order of that state. The report pictures religion on the Island in a sad condition and declares, “Last year a fomenter of evil came there. He was a cobbler from Rhode Island, in New England, and stated that he was commissioned by Christ. He began to preach at Flushing and then went with the people into the river and dipped them.
This becoming known here, the fiscal [i.e., a government official] proceeded thither and brought him along. He was banished from the province.” This was in reference to William Wickenden of Providence, Rhode Island. He was an elder of the second Providence church which was “vigorous…in propagating its notions.” Wickenden was one of the earliest settlers in Providence, having moved there in 1636.
He signed the first compact for R.I. in 1637 and served as a member of the legislature often from 1648 to 1664. In 1655 he visited N.Y. to preach the gospel. The following information has been provided by Armitage. “The Baptists at Flushing were the next to feel the wrath of the law. William Hallett, sheriff of that place, had dared to collect conventicles in his house, and to permit one William Wickenden to explain and comment on God’s Holy Word, and to administer sacraments, though not called thereto by any civil or clerical authority…” The sheriff was removed from office and banished. Wickenden was banished without paying a large fine imposed on him. He died in 1669.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 320-22.
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