John Rogers, of New London

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John Rogers, of New London

Birthplace: Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut
Death: Died in New London, New London County, Connecticut
Cause of death: Smallpox
Place of Burial: New London, New London County, Connecticut, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of James Rogers, of New London and Elizabeth Rogers
Husband of Sarah Rogers
Ex-husband of Elizabeth Beckwith and Mary Jones
Partner of Maria, slave of James Rogers
Father of Joan Jackson; Adam Rogers; Elizabeth Prentis; John Rogers, Jr.; Gershom Rogers and 1 other
Brother of Samuel Rogers of New London; Joseph Rogers; Bathsheba Fox; James Rogers, Jr.; Jonathan Rogers, Sr. and 1 other

Occupation: Pastor, farmer, landowner, preacher, religious dissident
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Rogers, of New London

John Rogers (son of James Rogers, a wealthy merchant, and Elizabeth Rowland) was born 1 December 1648 in Milford, New Haven County in the Connecticut Colony, and died 17 October 1721 in New London, New London County in the Connecticut Colony, of smallpox.

John Rogers senior was buried directly upon the bank of the Thames, within the bounds of his Mamacock farm. The inventory of his estate was 410 pounds. He had been a prolific writer, and among his inventory there were several chests and packages of his own books.


It seems likely he had a relationship with Maria, a servant in his household, before his marriage.

He first married Elizabeth Griswold (daughter of Matthew Griswold & Anna Wolcott) on 17 Oct 1670.  She was granted a divorce from her husband, John Rogers, 12 Oct 1676.

He next married 6 Jun 1699 in New London, CT to his housemaid, Mary Ransford (her parents unknown). This marriage was not sanctioned by the church and John did not renounce his marriage to Elizabeth. His son John Rogers Jr was very angry. John presented himself with Mary before the June 6 session of the County Court in New London, where they take each other, in the sight and hearing of all, as husband and wife; he, furthermore, stating his reason for marrying her outside the form prescribed by the colony, to which form he declares he attaches no value, since it was not sufficient to secure his first wife to him, although no valid cause was presented for the annulment of that approved ceremony. To fully make this a well-authenticated marriage, he gallantly escorts Mary to the house of Governor Fitz-John Winthrop and informs him that he has taken this young woman for his wife. The governor politely wishes him much joy.

Finally, he married 4 Jul 1714 in Block Island, Newport, Rhode Island to the widow Sarah Cole (her parents unknown).


Possibly his children by Maria, a slave in the James & John Rogers household:

  1. Joan, b abt 1669 m John Jackson, a freed slave of James Rogers. She gained her freedom in 1718.
  2. Adam b abt 1670 m Katherine Jones.

Children by first wife,

  • 23. Elizabeth, b. in New London 8 Nov., 1671; m. Stephen Prentice.
  • 24. John, b. at New London 20 March, 1674; m Bathsheba., dau, of Richard Smith.

Children by second marriage.

  • 25. Gershon, b. at New London 24 Feb., 1699; died at sea
  • 26. Mary, b. at New London 6 March, 1702; m. John Hobbs.. She died 5 Oct., 1781, leaving two children, James b. 3 Oct 1721; Jonathan, b. Aug.,1723 

family notes

" ... for more than 300 years suspicions and allegations have been that John Rogers the Rogerene fathered Adam Rogers the mulatto.John was divorced in 1676 by his wife for an unspecified act that John did BEFORE his marriage.Adam is believed to have been born ca 1670, and it has been rumored that John Rogers was the father. The DNA results [2005] lend strong circumstantial evidence to substantiate those rumors. ..."


From Wikipedia

The Rogerenes (also known as the Rogerens Quakers or Rogerines) were a religious sect founded in 1674 by John Rogers (1648–1721) in New London, Connecticut.[1]

Rogers was imprisoned and spent some years there. He was influenced by the Seventh Day Baptists and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and opposed the Established Puritan church. Rogerenes initially held to a Seventh Day (Saturday) Sabbath, but over the years began to regard each day as equally holy. Their disdain for Sunday worship often brought them into sharp conflict with their neighbors. Increasingly they adopted a Pacifist stance, including war tax resistance,[2] which further brought them the ridicule of the larger community. Some of the Rogerenes left Connecticut and migrated to New Jersey settling in parts of present-day Morris County. One such group settled in what is now the Landing section of Roxbury Township, New Jersey near Lake Rogerine, then known as Mountain Pond in about 1700. Another smaller group of Rogerenes in about 1734 settled on the eastern side of Schooley's Mountain near present-day Hackettstown, New Jersey.[3]

Rogerene worship services continued through the early 20th century in Connecticut.


  1. Sachse, Julius Friedrich (1905). The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania. Printed for the author. p. 105.
  2. Gross, David (ed.) We Won’t Pay!: A Tax Resistance Reader ISBN 1-4348-9825-3 pp. 74-75
  3. Wolf, Theo F. (1914). "18". History of Morris County. Lewis Publishing Co.

A Religious Movement You've Never Heard Of

From the Hartford Courant 2002

They were outsiders in their day, a nonconformist sect of principled if often-difficult people who emerged from the rough-and-tumble life of a Colonial port, New London.

The Rogerenes they came to be called, for religious dissenter John Rogers, and at least one latter-day scholar has come to view their colorful story more charitably than some others have in the past.

The sect might best be described as a Protestant reform effort at the edge of Congregational, Quaker and Seventh Day Baptist faiths. Rogerenes argued for a non-institutional faith, believed in faith healing, demanded separation of church and state, sought emancipation for blacks and even endorsed polygamy, though it is unclear to what extent followers practiced plural marriage.

Inevitably, in a time when the Congregational Church was the established church, they clashed with the New London power structure, enduring frequent jailings, even beatings.

Jan Schenk Grosskopf, an adjunct professor of history at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, is convinced that the Rogerenes are evidence that Colonial life in Connecticut was not nearly as orderly and conservative as many people think.

"It is not rigid people bowing their heads in church every Sunday, she said. "It is more like people going to the meeting house to argue with each other quite often.

There were fights and murders, thefts and drunkenness in the Colonies. Language could be salty and unvarnished. Children were born out of wedlock. It was not a monolithic society of piety.

"Society was very disorderly. There was a great range of opinion, she said.

Grosskopf focused on John Rogers in her UConn doctoral dissertation, "Limits of Religious Dissent in 17th Century Connecticut: The Rogerene Heresy.

Rogers, born in 1648, was a principled man, the antithesis of go-along-get-along. In the 1670s, he removed himself from the mainstream Congregational faith and fashioned his own beliefs. He came from a wealthy family and was himself wealthy, despite nearly a lifetime's worth of trouble with Congregational and political leaders in the city.

Rogers argued for separation of church and state almost from the moment church and state were joined in Colonial Connecticut. He was an early advocate of the emancipation of slaves. He also believed in faith healing, adult baptism and polygamy by followers. Church on Sunday? No need to go to church at all, Rogers said.

"Your life is supposed to be a worship, Grosskopf said of Rogers' belief. "And therefore it should be an entire encompassing spirituality that informs everything you do.

Unhappy that he had to pay to support the Congregational Church -- and unhappy that he was required to attend services -- Rogers would stand up in church and challenge the minister on points of doctrine and refuse to pay his share of church costs. He was carted off to jail.

Rogers would not just argue; he would preach.

"He'd get up and say, 'Since you took five of my cattle or whatever to pay the rates for this meeting house, I own this meeting house, too. We all own it.' Then he would get up and preach, Grosskopf said. They used to arrest him, but after a while they just sort of ignored him.

By 1700, Rogers had written five books on his religious philosophy. All were burned by the government. At one point Rogers was locked up for madness.

"They boarded up the windows -- a new treatment for madness -- but the local people ripped off the boards and set him free, Grosskopf said.

Indeed, Rogers, a charismatic man, was popular in New London society, even among those who did not share his views, with the notable exception of the political and religious establishment.

Rebel Preacher

Rogerenes at first were a small circle of family and friends -- notably John Bolles, whose family became longtime followers of the Rogerene sect. Never a major religious movement, the Rogerenes nevertheless grew over the years, with adherents among several New London area families, including the Bolles.

Camille Hanlon, a professor emeritus of human development at Connecticut College in New London, has researched the Rogers and Bolles families and their traditions of principled dissent.

"Both of these families seem to have taken very seriously the principles of the English Reformation, she said, including making the church less institutional.

"I think John Rogers and John Bolles hoped they could persuade the local Congregationalists to separate church and state, Hanlon said. The Rogerenes never let the issue drop, but Connecticut did not formally separate the church from the state until 1818.

In the 19th century, Rogerenes, by then sometimes affiliated with other Protestant churches, were leaders in the abolitionist movement, which was strong in the New London area, Hanlon said. Even in the 17th century, both Bolles and Rogers were freeing or trying to free slaves.

Grosskopf said the Rogerenes of the 19th century were not only prominent in the abolitionist movement but characteristically in the thick of other social issues.

"They were involved in women's issues. ... They wanted to keep Texas out of the Union because it was a slave state. They worked to get rid of the death penalty. Some were interested in vegetarianism. They were involved in all the hot issues of the day.


From Miner Descent:

John Rogers (1653 – 1707), the founder of the Rogerene Quakers spent a cummulative fifteen years in jail for his beliefs, among them celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday and working on Sunday.  He wasn’t our direct ancestor, but his love story with Elizabeth Griswold is unique.  His first wife Elizabeth was forced by her family to divorce him.  There were no grounds for divorce based on religious differences, so its legality is questionable and Rogers believed he was still married to Elizabeth and remained faithful to her for twenty-five years until he married his housemaid.  He still claimed his first marriage was valid and the Bible permitted him two wives,  In 1705, thirty-five years after his marriage, he tried to get Elizabeth back, leading him into a unique conflict with our Matthew BECKWITH family.

From the IGI:

Mrs. Elizabeth Beckwith had previously been married to Rogers, a Quaker leader,founder off the Rogerine Quakers, she divorced him (Oct 12, 1676), and married Mathew BEckwith, Rogers came after both of them grabbing Elizabeth and threatening Mathew, causing him to fear for his life, in court he defended himself on the grounds she was still his wife. "The Beckwiths" pp 341-347.

"About this time 1703, Rogers madea rash attempt to regain his divorced wife, tehn united to Mathew Beckwith, a writ was issued against him in January, 1703, on complaint of Beckwith chragin him with lyaing hands on her, declaring she was his wife, and threatening Beckwith, that he would have her in spite of him, all of which Rogers confessed to be true, but defended on the plea that she was really his wife (Connecticut Records).

In county court, June, 1703, Matnew Beckwith, Sr., appeared in court and wore his Majesty's peace against John Rogers for that he was in fear of his life from him. " [Connecticut Records].

From DNA shows Adam Rogers heritage 2005

Here are the results of recent DNA testing regarding one line of descendants from James Rogers of New London.This deals with the ancestry of Adam Rogers, a mulatto slave in the shared household of James Rogers and his son John Rogers of New London, CT.This line was not covered in James Swift Rogers' 1902 genealogy of the descendants of James, who has been considered a regional patriarch.

I have documented my surname line back to Adam.(How many can say THAT??? ) The puzzle for 300 years has been who his father might have been.Not a lot of records are available for early slave ancestry.

DNA testing was done through "Family Tree DNA," at their group rate due to the presence of an associated Rogers surname study.

On 22 Sept 2005 I was notified of both a 12 point and a 25 point Y-marker match between my DNA sample and that of Dwight Rogers, a known direct male descendant of James Rogers of New London. He is part of the "Nova Scotia" branch descended via Stephen, listed in the 4th Generation in James Swift Rogers' 1902 genealogy of "James Rogers of New London and his Descendants."

The DNA results indicate a 99.9% probability of us sharing a common Rogers ancestor.For the descendants of Adam Rogers of New London, CT, we now have a combination of genetic and documentary evidence that a member of the family of James Rogers of New London,was the father of Adam the mulatto.

I was provided Dwight's documented lineage as follows:

  • Dwight Leroy Rogers10, Joseph 'Jay' Albert Rogers9, Joseph Henry Rogers8, James Moore Rogers7, James Rogers6, Lemuel Rogers5, Stephen Rogers4, Jonathan Rogers3, Joseph Rogers2, James Rogers1 of New London, CT.

My lineage has been documented as follows:

  • James Allen Rogers, b 1949, at Denver, CO
  • Will Alden Rogers, b 1918, Davenport, IA
  • Clarence Alden Rogers, b 1888, Burlington, IA
  • Roswell Noyes Rogers, b 1848, Geauga County, OH
  • Joseph Noyes L. Rogers, b 1811, East Haddam, CT
  • Roswell Rogers, b 1764, of East Haddam CT
  • John Rogers, b 1734, of East Haddam CT
  • John Rogers, the cooper, b 1704 at New London, CT, and of Middletown, CT
  • Adam Rogers, the mulatto, b ca 1670, of New London, CT

Adam was initially a slave (later freed) in the household of James Rogers of New London and his son John Rogers, the Rogerene.John was born 1648.

Dr. Benjamin Trumbull, in his 1898 "Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical ...," disparaged John Rogers the Rogerene for having in his early days (before John's religious conversion) bedded with at least one ofthe family's slaves."When he had occasion, he took to his bed a maid whom he had purchased, and after she had borne him two children, he put her away."(Page 20)

This possibility regarding Adam's parentage was echoed in George Waller's monograph, "Connecticut Genealogies; 1: Adam and Katherine Rogers of New London, Ct...," available in the RootsWeb Archives for New London, CT.

So, for more than 300 years suspicions and allegations have been that John Rogers the Rogerene fathered Adam Rogers the mulatto.John was divorced in 1676 by his wife for an unspecified act that John did BEFORE his marriage.Adam is believed to have been born ca 1670, and it has been rumored that John Rogers was the father.The DNA resultslend strong circumstantial evidence to substantiate those rumors.

The other possible fathers of Adam would be the patriarch James himself or James' sons Samuel (b ca 1640), Joseph (b 1646), James (b 1652), or Jonathan (b 1655).Children of these brothers would have been too young to have fathered Adam around 1670.Additionally, Jonathan(2) would have only been about 15 at the estimated date of Adam's birth.He may be the weakest alternative for parentage among the four brothers of John.

Although they narrow the field of possibilities tremendously, these test results do not mean with 100% certainty that John Rogers the Rogerene was Adam's father.Dwight and I definitely descend from a common Rogers ancestor, and from traditional methods of genealogical research we know that James Rogers of New London is the common point of connection on our two lines.The DNA test alone does not determine exactly WHICH Rogers was Adam's father.

This conclusion blends the DNA results with our documentary research.As more researchers submit DNA to be tested, and as the technology improves, it is possible that we may at a later date be able to pinpoint Adam's father with scientific certainty.

From John Rogers, Sr Find A Grave Memorial# 52287714

The Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, page 115 1721 (October)

Tuesd :17: fair. I was about home all day. wee made Cydar at Mr.Chapmans & Mothers. Old John Rogers died with the Small Pox. Wednsd 18fair. I was about home all d. wee Carted 2 Jaggs of hay from mothers.Mr. Winthrops oxen & Capt Lattemers Cart. Old John Buried.

Groton, CONN. 1705-1905, By Charles R. Stark, 1922, Page 226

"There is no indication that John Rogers, Sr., ever kept a slave, and many indications to the contrary. His son John, however, kept slaves to some extent, some of whom, at least, he freed for 'faithful service' (New London Records). His son James mentions a servent 'Rose' in his will of 1754. His son John, however, never kept a slave and his family were greatly opposed to that practice, by force of early teaching. With the exceptions here noted, no proof appears of the keeping of slaves among the early Rogerenes, although many of them were in circomstances to indulge in that practice, which was prevalent in their neighborhood."

History of Montville, Connecticut, By Henry Augustus Baker, Published by , 1896, Pages 179-181

II JOHN (4), b. 1 Dec., 1648, third son of James Rogers and Elizabeth Rowland; m. 17 Oct., 1670, Elizabeth, daughter of Mathew Griswold. The rite of marriage was performed by the father of the bride, and accompanied with the formality of a written contract and dowry, the husband settling his farm at upper Mamacock upon the wife in case of his death or separation from her during life.. This farm was situated about two miles north of New London, on the Thames River. In May, 1675 after having two children born to them, she applied to the General Court for a divorce, grounding her petition not only upon the heterodoxy of her husband (that of being a Quaker), but upon certain alleged immoralities.The court, after a delay of nearly a year and a half, granted her petition, but in less than two years she mad married again. This marriage was to Peter Pratt, 5 Aug., 1679. She had by him one son,Peter. Her second husband, Peter Pratt, died 24 march, 1688, and shortly afterwards she married a third husband, Mathew Beckwith, 2d, by whom she had one daughter, Grisell. Elizabeth Griswold, the wife of three husbands, died in 1727.

Mr. Rogers was greatly incensed at the decision of the court in granting a divorce to his wife. He lived a single life about twenty-five years,and then married himself to Mary Ransford. She is reported to have been a servant, whom be had bought, and probably of the class of persons then called Redemptionists. Mr. Rogers would not united in the marriage rite by any minister or magistrate, and proposes to his intended that both go in to the county court room while the court was in session, and there publicly declare their marriage intentions, which proposal was agreed toby the intended. He, leading the bride by the hand, entered into the presence of the assembled court, and there requested the whole assembly to take notice that he took the woman he held by the hand to be his lawful wife, the bride also assenting. This connection was however, an unhappy one, violent quarrels afterwards arising between the reputed wife and the youngest son of Mr. Rogers. To preserve peace and quiet, the law in several instances was invoked. The elder Rogers himself was compelled to apply to the court for assistance in quelling their domestic broil.

In 1703, upon the presentation of the grand jury, the court summoned the reputed wife of John Rogers, Sr., before them, declaring her marriage invalid, and sentenced her to pay a fine of forty shillings or receive ten stripes, and prohibited her return to her reputed husband under still heavier penalties. Upon receiving the sentence she came around to the side of the court; acknowledged her marriage illegal, cast off the protection and authority of Rogers and refused to regard him as her husband. Soon after this she escaped from the confinement in which sire had been placed by order of the court end fled to Block Island, leaving her two children by Rogers with him. She was afterwards married to Robert Jones of Block Island,

In 1714, John Rogers was again married to Widow Sarah Cole of Oyster Bay,L. I., the ceremony being performed in the State of Rhode Island. With this connection there was no trouble- He died of small pox 17 Oct., 1721, and was buried upon the bank of the Tames River within the bounds of his mamacock farm, where he had set aside a place for a family sepulcher.

From Radune, Richard A. 2005. Pequot Plantation: the story of an early colonial settlement. Branford, Conn: Research in Time Publications. : pages 236-237

The first serious and organized dissent from the Puritan Congregational Church involved a family by the name of Rogers who went on to form a sect called the Rogerenes. James Rogers was a miller and man of substance. He lived in Milford until about 1657 when John Winthrop recruited him to come to Pequot Plantation and run his mill after he became Governor of the colony. ... Winthrop later sued Rogers for breach of contract for not meeting the community grain and corn milling needs. In spite of this problem, Rogers was very successful and influential. He was elected six times as a legislator, ran a successful bakery and was a substantial landowner. His children married well, including son Samuel, who married Thomas Stanton's daughter Mary in 1664.

The Rogers family became acquainted with Seventh-day Baptists, or Sabbatarians, in Rhode Island during the course of their trade and commercial enterprises. By 1676, many of the family, including spouses, had become dissenters from the Puritan Congregational Church. With son John Rogers taking the lead, the family started a new sect called by various names as the Rogerenes, Rogerene Quakers or Rogerene Baptists. Notable exceptions within the family who did not convert were John's own wife, Elizabeth Griswold, along with his brother, Samuel Rogers and his wife, Mary Stanton. Elizabeth Griswold requested a divorce from John in May 1675 which was granted a year and a half later by the General Court.

For the most part, Rogerene beliefs were orthodox Christian but they differed from Puritan Congregational on several points with four being most controversial because they were more visible. First, they did not hold to Sabbath day restrictions and believed all days were equal. After religious services, which they held on Saturday rather than Sunday, the people were free to work or pursue any other activities. Second, they protested against obligatory taxes to support Congregational ministers. Third, they shunned medicine and medical services. Forth, they encouraged re-baptism. Rogerenes were aggressive and welcomed or invited the persecution which naturally followed. Periodic fines and imprisonment commenced in 1676 and continued for many years.

The Rogerenes were the first non-congregational group in southeastern Connecticut to openly organize. The underlying cause that motivated John Rogers and his followers to speak out and risk persecution was the issue of taxation without representation. Rogers objected to the requirement to pay the ministers rate supporting the Puritan Congregational Church when he was not a Congregationalist. This struck at the heart of Puritan control of government and society. If they allowed dissenters, they would lose their hold over governing all of the people and this could lead to secularization.

Punishments began in 1676. When not in prison, Rogerenes were arraigned in court and fined on an almost monthly basis for many years. Often, whippings and time sitting in the stocks were also imposed. While none of the members were ever banished from the colony, John Rogers' books and papers were considered heretical and burned.

The Rogerenes were unable to attract many adherents due to fear of persecution and the strength of the Puritan Congregational movement. In 1680, Connecticut Colony officials estimated that there were no more than six men calling themselves Rogerenes and about as many Quakers.9 Counting spouses, this probably meant less than two dozen members. Although small in number, they were tenacious and maintained a high level of visibility in a prankish sort of way. In 1685, for example, four of them derided to attend regular Sunday service as ordered but then made a great disturbance, totally disrupting the proceedings. They were all ordered to be whipped fifteen lashes and John Rogers was also fined five pounds for re-baptizing several persons. On another occasion of contempt, John Rogers stuffed a wig into the contribution box established for aid of the ministry. This was done to deride the clergy's fashion of wearing wigs.



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John Rogers, of New London's Timeline

December 1, 1648
Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut
Age 19
New London, New London County, Connecticut Colony
Age 21
New London, New London County, Connecticut Colony
November 8, 1671
Age 22
Lyme, New London County, Connecticut Colony
March 20, 1674
Age 25
New London, New London County, Connecticut
February 24, 1700
Age 51
New London, New London County, Connecticut, United States
March 6, 1702
Age 53
New London, New London County, Connecticut, United States