William Rogers, of Watford

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William Rogers

Also Known As: "William Bernard Rogers FitzRogers"
Birthplace: Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Death: Died in Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Place of Burial: Watford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of William Rogers, Sr., of Watford and Joan Rogers
Husband of Eleanor Lyne
Father of (Possibly) Margaret Rogers; Thomas Rogers, "Mayflower" Passenger; Elizabeth Rogers; William Rogers, III and John Rogers
Brother of Edward Rogers and Elizabeth Rogers

Occupation: Husbandman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Rogers, of Watford

William Rogers, husbandman of Watford, born about 1540, William Rogers died in 1585 at Watford, Northamptonshire, England [2] and was buried there 4 [14?] August 1585. [1],[2]

Parents: second (?) child and son of William Roger of Watford, co. Northampton, born say 1510, died at Watford in April or May 1553, survived by his wife JOAN (----). [19] Of the seven children mentioned in his will, only three have been identified, and their order is uncertain.


  1. married as first wife Eleanor (----), buried at Long Buckby, co. Northampton 23 May 1607. She married (2) Watford 4 July 1586 William Lyne, who was buried at Long Buckby 16 April 1598. [22] {fn1}

Children of William and Eleanor (----) Rogers, born at Watford:

  1. (possibly) Margaret, bapt. 1570, no parents named, bur. Watford 27 Aug. 1572 [3]
  2. Thomas [1] Rogers (of the Mayflower), born Watford about 1571, died Plymouth, Massachusetts in the winter 1620/1 in the "first sickness", married Watford 24 October 1597 Alice Cosford {fn3}, baptized there 10 May 1573, living in Leiden, Netherlands in 1622, daughter of George and Margaret (Wills?) Cosford of Watford.{fn2}
  3. Elizabeth, bapt. 7 Jan. 1575/76, mentioned in her father's will in 1585, perhaps the Elizabeth Rogers bur. Watford 16 Aug. 1609. [2]
  4. William, bapt. 20 April 1581, mentioned in his father's will. Two William Rogers living concurrently at Watford make any further record unclear. [2]
  5. John, bapt. May 1586 (posthumous), bur. Watford 20 May 1656. The John Rogers having children at Watford as early as Jan. 1602/3 is probably not this man. [2]


William Rogers of Watford (1585)

"In Dei Nomine Amen the XIIIth day of August Anno dom 1585 I willm Rogers of Watford in the county of Northton husbandman sicke in body but of whole and pfecte memory do make and ordeyne this my last will and testament in maner and form following first I bequeathe my soule into the hands of Almighty god my maker and to Jesus Christ my redeemer and to the holy ghost my sanctyfyer and my body to be buryed in the churchyard of Watford aforesaid

Item I give and bequeath unto Thomas Rogers my eldest sonne one messuage with a little peece of ground joining to the same on the backside commonly called the cote and one quarter of land being in the neyther end field of Watford with all the appurtenances there unto belonging to enter upon the same messuage and quarter of land with appurtenances at 21 years of his age and not before in the meantime my wife to have the occupation of it

Item I give unto the same Thomas Rogers one gray colte and my beest kine to chuse the same at holy roodes of day commonly called thenvention of the holly crosse [20] nex ensuing the date hereof

Item I give and bequeath unto the same Elizabeth Rogers my daughter one cowe and one lambe to be delivered unto hir at thenvention of the holy crosse next come 12 moneth which shalbe in the yeare of our lord god 1587

Item I give and bequeath unto Willm Rogers my sonne 10 pounds of lawful Englishe money to be payed unto him at 18 years of his age

Item Igive unto the foresaid Willm Rogers my sonne the lease of one messuage or tenement wheron I now dwell and one halfe yard land unto the same belonging with all those pastures medowes feeding commons with all the appurtenances unto the same belonging lying in th towne or of field or fields of Watford aforesaid to enter upon the foresaid messuage half yard land with the appurtenances etc after the decease of Ellenor Rogers my wife at the endy of hir naturrall lyfe in the meantime the foresaid Ellenor to have and enioy the messuage halfe yard land with the appurtenances in as ample and large maner as is before specyfyed

Item I give unto the sayd Willm Rogers my sonne three hyves commonly called his owne Provided always that yf it happen any of my foresaid children to decease before terme or tyme specyfyed or abouve specyfyed for payment or delivery of all and every of the foresaid porsions or legacyes that then they survivors or longer liver or livers to have the legacyes of the deceased equally devided ajongest and yf it happen all save one to decease then he or she to have and enioy all the whole legacyes of the deceased And yf it happa my children aforeayd to decease before the termes aforesaid then the legacyes to remayne with myne executrix

Item I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Cole my sister xii [1] and to either of hir children iiii [1] a peece

Item I give unto Willm Garle the sonne of Alexander Garle iiii [1] All the rest of my goods chattels moveable and unmoveable (illegible) unbequeathed my debts discharged

I give unto Ellinor Rogers my wfye who I make my whole and sole executrix to fulfill this my last will and testament

And I desire Robt Butler and Edward Rogers my brother to my overseers made in the psence of Robt Butler Robt Maddocke of Watford with others (proved 9 May 1586) [21] Inventory x1ij [li] xix[s] ij[d]


Thomas Rogers was one of the unfortunate Mayflower passengers who died during the “first sickness at Plymouth” in the winter of 1620/1. Nevertheless, an extensive posterity is attributed to him through at least two sons, Joseph and John. [1] Until recently little was known concerning Thomas Rogers’ children and parentage; this did not deter authors of genealogies and family historians from publishing many fictitious accounts of this emigrant and his family, some complete with illustrious ancestry and an ever-present coat of arms.[2]

One of the most common claims is that the Pilgrim was a great-grandson of (Rev.) John Rogers who was burnt at the stake in 1555, the first casualty of the purge of the English clergy by Queen Mary I.[3] Many Rogers emigrants to New England and Virginia share this claim of descent from the Martyr John Rogers;[4] these pedigrees should have been dead on arrival in the light of the well-documented study of the Martyr by (Col.) Joseph L. Chester (published as long ago as 1861 [5] as well as a useful article by Henry F. Waters, another pioneer in New England research, in 1887.[6] And yet the myth persists.

For two centuries and a half the only authentic evidence concerning Thomas Rogers and his family was a fragmentary and tantalizing account written in 1650 by a fellow passenger, (Governor) William Bradford: [7]

>"Thomas Rogers, and Joseph, his sone (came). His other children came afterwards… Thomas Rogers dyed in the first sickness, but his sone Joseph is still living, and is married, and hath 6 children. The rest of Thomas Rogers (children) came over, and are maried, and have many children.”

Stripping away the layers of assumptions and unproved claims that have accumulated for at least a century, what can actually be deduced from original sources? Only one of the “other children”, John Rogers, can be authenticated from New England records. He probably arrived at Plymouth about 1630 when the last of the Separatists arrived from Leiden. John was taxed in Plymouth on 25 March 1633.[9] On 6 April 1640 Joseph Rogers and John Rogers “his brother” were granted fifty acres each at North River (Marshfield), thus proving John’s identity. [10]

Robert Wakefield’s examination of the 1622 Leiden poll tax lists reveal that when Thomas [1] Rogers left for America his wife Alice, two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, and son John remained in Leiden.[13] In the household of Antony Clements, apparently one of the English Separatists who did not emigrate to Plymouth, are found the following persons:

  • Jan Thomasz orphan from England without means
  • Elsgen (Alice) [14] Rogiers, widow of Thonis Rogiers an English woman in the back part of the house or in the kitchen
  • Lysbeth (Elizabeth)
  • Grietgen (Margaret)

In the Dutch patronymic system Jan Thomasz is equivalent to John, son of Thomas. His placement above Thomas Rogers’ widow and his description as “orphan from England” suggest that he is John [2] Rogers, later of Plymouth. It has been speculated that the daughter Elizabeth came to Plymouth and married Samuel [1] Eddy, since the latter was granted land at Plymouth on 3 June 1662 reserved for “the firstborn children” of the colony or their parents. As Samuel did not in his own right qualify on either count, it is possible that his wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Thomas [1] Rogers. [15]

>In summary, the primary evidence gathered from Dutch and New England sources establishes that Thomas Rogers had a wife named Alice, who survived him, and a least four children: Joseph, John, Elizabeth and Margaret, probably born in that order.

The Rogers Name

The surname of ROGERS was derived from the Old French name Rogier. The name meant fame-spear. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. Early records include Rogerus Marescalcus, listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Willemus Rogerson was mentioned in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name was exceedingly common in the 13th century throughout the land, considered to be 'a knightly name'. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Arms also registered at Wrexham, Co.Denbigh and of the city. Arms registered at Wrexham, Co Denbigh and of the City of London.


  1. His (William Lyne's) will, made 30 March 1598 and proved 28 April 1598, [23] left to his wife Ellyn, among other bequests, "all the bedding that she knoweth to be her own." This language suggests that she had been married previously and was very likely the widow of William Rogers.
  2. Thomas Rogers was a camlet merchant. He bought a house on the Barbarasteeg in Leiden by 1617, having joined the English Separatists there in or after 1613, and he became a citizen of Leiden on 25 June 1618. He sold his house on April 1620, probably to prepare for removal to America. In the fall of 1620 he and his son Joseph sailed on the Mayflower and he was the eighteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact on 11 November 1620. Alice and the other children remained in Leiden, apparently expecting to join Thomas and Joseph later; they were still there in 1622, living in the home of Anthony Clements. Of the four surviving children, only his sons Joseph and John have so far been documented in New England records.
  3. Alice Cosford, who married Thomas Rogers at Watford 24 October 1597, was almost certainly a daughter of George Cosford baptized there 10 May 1573. The name is by this time almost illegible; Watts speculated that it was "Anne" but Mrs. Powell states that it "could equally be Anne or Alice" and, in any event , the will of George Cosford names Alice and Thomas Rogers his daughter and son-in-law but does not mention any daughter Anne. The following entries were extracted from the Watts transcript: [16]


  1. [S14] Clifford L. Stott, "English Ancestry of Thomas Rogers", 138-149.
  2. [S14] Clifford L. Stott, "English Ancestry of Thomas Rogers", p. 143.
  3. [S14] Clifford L. Stott, "English Ancestry of Thomas Rogers", 143.
  4. 23. Archdeaconry of Northampton, Registered Wills W:40.
  • 1. Robert M. Sherman, ed., Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, 2:James Chilton, Richard More, Thomas Rogers (Plymouth, MA 1978), pp.151-321. The Thomas Rogers material was compiled by Alice W.A. Wesgate, who observes (p. 153) that "nothing at all is known about his ancestry".
  • 2. One of the early Rogers genealogies to present in print this erroneous notion was Annie Arnoux Haxtun, Signers of the Mayflower Compact (repr. Baltimore, 1968); originally published in three parts from 1897 to 1899, this more properly a collection of fairy tales fro children than a serious genealogical study. Without reference to the work of Chester or Waters, and with vague allusions to "authentic" sources, Haxtun championed the idea that Thomas [1] Rogers descended from John Rogers the Martyr. She also believed that William [1] Rogers of Long Island and James [1] Rogers of New London were sons of the Pilgrim Thomas [1] Rogers. In 1911 John C. Underwood further elaborated on Haxtun's claims in his Lineage of the Rogers Family - England: Embracing John Rogers the Martyr, Emigrant Descendants to America and Issue. Now Thomas [1] Rogers acquired not only a wife named Grace but also a descent from royalty! (Chester had in fact documented a royal line for the Martyr John Rogers, but Underwood failed to cite any real documentation for the generations between the martyr and the Pilgrim.) Although this "ancestry" was many years ago rejected by the Thomas Rogers Society and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the undocumented claims of Haxtun and Underwood continue to appear in print as predictably as the swallows' return to Capistrano. Most recently, for example, Helen Rogers Skelton and Clarence C. Skelton, Rogers-Skelton and Allied Families (Baltimore, 1987) copies Underwood almost verbatim and even adds additional royal descents.
  • 3. Although there are variations, the usual descent claimed for Thomas [1] Rogers is as son of Thomas Matthew, son of Bernard, son of the Martyr. Chester found no evidence that Bernard had any posterity. Another source would make Thomas [1] son of (Rev.) John Rogers of Dedham, son of Noah, son of the Martyr (History of Suffolk county, New York (New York 1822), "Town of Huntington", p.6) But Waters proved that (Rev.) John Rogers, father of (Rev.) Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich, MA, has an entirely different ancestry.
  • 4. For the alleged descent of Giles Rogers of Virginia from Martyr, see Underwood, supra note 2, pp. 30, 32-33.
  • 5. Joseph L. Chester, John Rogers: The Compiler of the First Authorized English Bible, the Pioneer of the English Reformation, and its First Martyr…(London, 1861).
  • 6. Henry F. Waters, "The Rogers Family of the County of Essex, England", New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR) 41:158:88 (1887).
  • 7. Bradford's History "Of Plymouth Plantation" from the Original Manuscript (Boston, 1898), pp. 553, 537.
  • 8. New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 60:102-04.
  • 9. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth (12 vols., Boston, 1855-61), 1:11.
  • 10. Id., 1:144
  • 11. Henry Martyn Dexter and Morton Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (repr. Baltimore, 1978) pp. 572-73, 632.
  • 12. Jeremy D. Bangs, " The Pilgrims and Other English in Leiden Records: Some New Pilgrim Documents", NEHGR 142:207 (1989).
  • 13. Robert S. Wakefield, "Mayflower Passengers Turner and Rogers: Probable Identification of Additional Children", The American Genealogist 52:110-13 (1976).
  • 14. Although Wakefield read "Elsgen" as Elizabeth, Bangs, supra note 12, p. 207, read its English equivalent as Alice Anthony Clements Married Clara Rogiers, widow of Jan Jansz. The relationship if any between Thomas [1] and Clara has not been determined.
  • 15. For speculation on this point see Eugene A. Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History&People (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986), pp. 287-88.
  • 16. Thanks to Dr. Sidnee Spencer of Murray, Utah for making a copy of this transcription available. All dates are in Old style.
  • 17. The year 1585 is verified by Mrs. Powell. The date of burial was probably 14 August, since William Rogers made his will on 13 August. An error may have occurred in recopying when the registers were transcribed in 1598.
  • 18. Other relevant Rogers wills were not found in this probate court. 19. Archdeaconry of Northampton, Registered Wills M:30.
  • 20. The invention of the Holy Cross, celebrated 3 May, commemorates Empress Helena's discovery of the True Cross in Palestine in 376 A.D.
  • 21. Archdeaconry of Northampton, Registered Wills V:214. 22. R.L. Greenall, ed., Parish Register of Long Buckby (Leicester, 1971), pp. 18, 28.
  • 23. Archdeaconry of Northampton, Registered Wills W:40.
  • 24. Sherman supra note 1, pp. 103-05; Shurtleff, supra note 9, 1:4, 11, 28, 39, 141, 144, 12:4, 6, 12.
  • 25. Sherman, supra note 1 pp. 159-60.
  • 26. Archdeaconry of Northampton, Registered Wills Z:167.



  1. The English Ancestry of the Pilgrim Thomas Rogers and his wife Alice (Cosford) Rogers; The accepted lineage researched and published by Clifford Stott, The Genealogist, Vol. 10 No. 2, 1989
  2. [S59] The Genealogist (journal), American Society of Genealogists, (New York, Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy), 10:138-149 The English Ancestry of the Pilgrim Thomas Rogers and His Wife Alice (Cosford) Rogers (Reliability: 0), 1 Sep 2000.
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William Rogers, of Watford's Timeline

Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Age 30
Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Age 31
Watford, Northamptonshire, England

According to the Thomas Rogers Society: Thomas Rogers was born circa 1571 at Watford to William Rogers and Eleanor.

Age 35
Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Age 41
Watford, Northamptonshire, England
August 4, 1585
Age 45
Watford, Northamptonshire, England
August 1585
Age 45
Watford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 45
Watford, Northamptonshire, England
Age 45
Watford, Northamptonshire, England