But Mid-Trib (which my view vaguely qualifies as, but isn't traditional Mid-Trib as defined by Wikipedia) has to deal with a perception that clearly Pre-Trib and Post-Trib both came first and it was merely created as a compromise. (But the undeniably far younger Pre-Wrathers can't accept that argument so they focus on calling us "a Defunct view").
Pre-Tribulationism along with Dispensationalism are traditionally attributed to Darby in the early 19th Century. Though the truth is Darby was just copying and repackaging the views of Edward Irving who lived about the same time.
The attempts of Pre-Tribbers to give their view a greater antiquity include Ephraim the Syrian which claim I've already debunked. A statement in the Apocalypse of Peter which is ambiguous but at the very least is clearly predicting The Church to face Tribulation first. And attempts to read it into any reference to "Imminence" among the Church Fathers same as they do The New Testament itself.
Also Increase and Cotton Mather of the Seventeenth Century are claimed, but from what I have been able to read they seem pretty post-Trib to me, but Increase was adamant about a future conversion of the Jews which modern Post-Trib tends to reject.
Another name thrown out is Manuel Lacunza who died in 1801. He was a Jesuit Priest who's eschatological work was published under a false name. His book can be read online and I've seen nothing Pre-Trib in it and have seen others say outright that those labeling him Pre-Trib are lying.
However there is one claim of a Pre Irving and Darby teacher teaching a Rapture separate from the Revelation 19 event that holds up under scrutiny. And that is Morgan Edwards a Baptist preacher who lived from 1722-1795. However his timeline placed the Second Coming and Resurrection and Gathering of Believers not Seven but Three and a Half years before the start of the Millennium.
"The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years. I say, somewhat more—, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's "appearing in the air" (I Thes. iv. 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many "mansions in the father's house" (John xiv. 2), and disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for "now the time is come that judgment must begin," and that will be "at the house of God" (I Pet. iv. 17)."-Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties.His model is different then my view still based on how he defined Tribulation and when he places the time of the Two Witnesses. Here is a Pre-Trib site talking about him.
So the best evidence for a Pre-Darby separate Rapture is clearly a Mid-Trib one.
The only Medieval example that can be found of a Futurist view other then Post-Trib was a cult leader trying to give a special Last Prophet status to himself. His timeline is complicated and confusing but clearly allows no more then Three and a Half years.
"Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that the Antichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist. And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his preserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ."Source [Gumerlock's translation of the Latin text in Gumerlock, "A Rapture Citation," pp. 354-55.].
Mid-Trib is often accused of not popping up till the early or mid 20th Century.
But between Edwards and that point is a book predicated on claiming Louise-Napoleon III was the Antichrist (written while he was still Emperor) that predicts the Rapture to happen during the third year of the seven years, which is discussed in Chapter V (pages 77-81). So a weird view, but shows that alternatives to Pre or Post Trib were always being considered.
Going back to Pre-Darby, other 17th and 18th Century references cited are all vague, some do sound like they view the Rapture and the start of the Millennium as separate, but the exact timing is not made clear. They may not have picked a side in Pre-Trib vs Mid-Trib at all. These include Peter Jurieu, and Thomas Collier.
Peter Jurieu clearly did not teach a Secret Rapture, he refereed to it as a Glorious Apparition. Some criticisms of attempts to find early examples of Pre-Trib are discussed here. But it's unaware of Morgan Edwards.
Update February 7th 2018: I've read now from critics of seeing Edwards as Pre-Trib.
Some will will respond the Morgan Edwards seems to have been a Historicist and not Futurist at all. He seems to have had some Hsitoricsts elements (it being ingrained in Protestant tradition has Futurists to this day saying things that sound Historicist). But his limiting the ministry of the Witnesses to the three and a half years between the Resurrection and the Millennium, makes him clearly not a pure Historicist.
The only basis for three and a half years in a pure Historicist Day=Year theory model would be the three and a half days between the Death and Resurrection of the Two Witnesses. That makes it pretty difficult to have exactly three and a half years between the Rapture and the start of the Millennium.
Historicism inherently has more in common with Mid-Trib then Post-Trib because it's more open to accepting the Chronology of Revelation at face value.
This Morgan Edwards was a Historicist argument takes this quote. "there are no more than about 204 years between now and their death: I should therefore expect that their appearance is not far off." as supporting him being a Historicist. If their death was 204 years away at most, then the Hisotricist model should have had them appear over a Thousand Years before Edwards' own time. The fact is Edwards took the Witnesses far to literally for proper Historicism.
The Hisotricist elements in what he taught involved stuff about the Ottoman Turks being a Beast and the Papacy being the Man of Sin of 2 Thesselonians 2. Stuff I've seen plenty of Futurists incorporate into Futurist models. For the former I myself believe the Beast Empire will emerge out of Geo-political entities that already exist, and what role Turkey might play in that my mind has changed on a few times. And for the latter, there is no shortage of Futurist Papal-Antichrist views within Protestant circles. In fact it was a long time before I even learned it was "traditionally" associated with a non-Futurist model.
Here is another quote from Edwards on the Subject.
Another event previous to the Millennium will be the appearing of the son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the living, and to catch them up to himself, and then withdrawing with them, and observed before, This event will come to pass when Antichrist be arrived at Jerusalem in his conquest of the world; and about three years and a half before his killing the witnesses, and assumption of godhead.It certainly shows he was not teaching a Historicist view on the Two Witnesses. In a sense it hurts reading him as Mid-Trib in that it places the Abomination of Desolation three and a half years after The Rapture. Some tend to place when he conquers Jerusalem as about the same time as the Abomination. I personally am not sure he'll "conquer" Jerusalem at all.
So I may now have to retract what was the central example of this post. It seems he may well effectively fit the proper definition of Pre-Trib but simply sees the total time-frame in mind as only three and a half years. It's weird that he doesn't place the Abomination of Desolation at the halfway point, but about a month before the Millennium starts.
Pre-Tribber aren't trying to keep this quotes out of context, as the RaptureReady website posts the whole work. http://www.raptureready.com/morgan-edwards/. Though I had trouble getting the first part to load. The third part contains the quotes used to make him seem Historicist. However he goes on to say.
"The abomination intentioned by Daniel is supposed to be that which Antiochus Epiphanes set up in the temple; but that was before Christ time many hundred years; the Romans set up no abomination in the temple; for it was destroyed before they could gain possession of it; therefore Christ refers to a thing that is yet to come; and to a temple that is not yet extant."Something that is inherently Futurist.
The context of the 204 years quote was him saying he thinks the Witnesses will appear in some sense before they begin the proper 1260 day Ministry. He also argued for the Witnesses being Elijah and John who wrote Revelation. So no he was not supporting any Day=Year theory here.
He also clarified the Antichrist will be the last Pope. He was not saying All Popes are collectively The Antichrist.
At the end of section 3 he clearly separates the Second Coming from the Rapture, which is a fairly inherently Pre-Trib thing to do.
I get really frustrated reading on, as he clearly anticipates a lot of conventional Dispensational memes. Like separating the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 from Ezekiel 38. He also teaches the Zionism typical of Darby inspired Dispensationalism.
And I've found a PDF link where you can read all of it.
Morgan Edwards may very well qualify as the first Futurist of the English Speaking world, and maybe also the Protestant world. Everything else I've studied about 16th-18th Century Eschatology debates pretty much as Premillenialism and synonymous with Historicism.