Rogers, John

, the proto-martyr in the days of queew Mary, received a liberal education in the university of Cambridge, and there, we presume, entered into holy orders. Some time after this the company of merchant adventurers, as they were then called, appointed him their chaplain at Antwerp, where he remained many years. This proved also the means of his conversion from popery, for meeting there with Tindal and Coverdale, who had left England that they might enjoy their religious opinions with more freedom, he was induced by their conversation to examine the points in controversy more closely, the result of which was his embracing the sentiments of the reformers as far as then understood. He also joined with these colleagues in making the first translation of the Bible into English, which appeared at Hamburgh in 1532, under the fictitious name of Thomas Matthew. Rogers was corrector of the press on this occasion, and translated that part of the Apocrypha which was left unfinished by Tindal,' and also contributed some of the marginal notes. At Antwerp Mr. Rogers married, and thence went to Wittemberg, and had acquired such readiness in the Dutch language that he was chosen pastor of a congregation there, which office he discharged greatly to their satisfaction until the accession of Edward VI. At this time bishop Ridley invited him home, and made him prebendary and divinity-reader of St. Paul’s, where he was a very frequent preacher as long as Edward lived. When queen Mary made her triumphal entry into London, Aug. 3, 1553, Rogers had the boldness to preach a sermon at Paul’s Cross on the following Sunday, in which he exhorted the people to abide by the doctrine taught in king Edward’s days, and to resist popery in all its forms and superstitions. For this he was immediately called before the privy-council, in which were several of the restored popish bishops, but appears to have defended himself so ably that he was dismissed unhurt. This security, however, was not of long duration, and two days before Mary issued her proclamation against preaching the reformed doctrines (August 18) he was ordered to remain a prisoner in his own house at St. Paul’s. Erom | this he might, it is thought, easily have escaped, and he certainly had many inducements to make the attempt. He knew he could expect no forgiveness; that he might be well provided for in Germany; and that he had a wife and ten children; but he preferred giving his testimony to the truth of what he had believed and preached, at whatever risk.

After being confined six months in his own house he was removed to Newgate, where his confinement was aggravated by every species of severity and in January 1555, was examined before Gardiner, bishop of Winchester the purport of his examination, as written by himself, isgiven at considerable length by Fox, but is not capable of abridgment. The issue was that Mr. Rogers was condemned to be burnt on Feb. 4, which sentence he bore with the greatest constancy and patience. On the day of his execution he was awakened with some difficulty out of a sound sleep, and only requested of Bonner, who came to perform the office of degrading him from holy orders, that he might see his family; but this was denied him. On his way, however, to Smithfield, his wife and ten children, with one at the breast, contrived to meet him. When he came to the stake, although not permitted to say much, he exhorted the people to remain steady in the faith and doctrine which had been taught them, and for which he was now willingto resign his life. As he was the first who had suffered in this reign, and one well known for his piety and usefulness, his death made no slight impression on the multitude who witnessed it, many of whom were afterwards emboldened by such scenes as this wretched reign presented, either to suffer in the same cause, or to preserve the tenour and spirit of the reformation until the accession of Elizabeth restored them to their riberty. 1


Fox’s Acts and Monuments, Strypn’s CVanmcr, p, 58, S-2, 29j, 315, 243L, S4i, 411. WordsworlliVEcd, Biography.