The Life of Rev. Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich

The following biographical sketch of Nathaniel Rogers of Massachusetts by Charlotte Fell-Smith is quoted in full from the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 17, pp. 135–36. Nathaniel Rogers is my ninth-great-grandfather.

Rogers, Nathaniel (1598–1655), divine, second son of the puritan John Rogers (1572?–1636) [q.v.], by his first wife, was born at Haverhill, Essex, in 1598. He was educated at Dedham grammar school and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which he entered as a sizar on 9 May 1614, graduating B.A. in 1617 and M.A. in 1621. For two years he was domestic chaplain to some person of rank, and then went as curate to Dr. John Barkham at Bocking, Essex. There Rogers, whose chief friends were Thomas Hooker [q.v.], the lecturer of Chelmsford, and other Essex puritans, adopted decidedly puritan views. His rector finally dismissed him for performing the burial office over ‘an eminent person’ without a surplice. Giles Firmin [q.v.], who calls Rogers ‘a man so able and judicious in soul-work that I would have trusted my own soul with him,’ describes his preaching in his ‘reverend old father’s’ pulpit at Dedham against his father’s interpretation of faith, while the latter, ‘who dearly loved him,’ stood by.

On leaving Bocking he was for five years rector of Assington, Suffolk. On 1 June 1636 he sailed with his wife and family for New England, where they arrived in November. Rogers was ordained pastor of Ipswich, Massachusetts, on 20 Feb. 1638, when he succeeded Nathaniel Ward as co-pastor with John Norton (1606–1663) [q.v.] On 6 Sept. he took the oath of freedom at Ipswich, and was soon appointed a member of the synod, and one of a body deputed to reconcile a difference between the legalists and the antinomians. He died at Ipswich on 3 July 1655, aged 57.

By his wife Margaret (d. 23 Jan. 1656), daughter of Robert Crane of Coggeshall, Essex, whom he married in 1626, Rogers had issue Mary, baptized at Coggeshall on 8 Feb. 1628, married to William Hubbard [q.v.]; John (see below); and four sons (Nathaniel, Samuel, Timothy, and Ezekiel) born in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The youngest was left heir by his uncle Ezekiel Rogers [q.v.] Rogers’s descendants in America at the present time are more numerous than those of any other early emigrant family. Among them was the genealogist, Colonel Joseph Lemuel Chester [q.v.]

Rogers published nothing but a letter in Latin to the House of Commons, dated 17 Dec. 1643, urging church reform; it was printed at Oxford in 1644. It contained a few lines of censure on the aspersions of the king in a number of ‘Mercurius Britannicus,’ to which that newspaper replied abusively on 12 Aug. 1644. He also left in manuscript a treatise in Latin in favour of congregational church government, a portion of which is printed by Mather in the ‘Magnalia.’

John Rogers (1630–1684), the eldest son, baptised at Coggeshall, Essex, on 23 Jan. 1630, emigrated with his father to New England in 1636. He graduated at Harvard University in 1649 in theology and medicine, and commenced to practice the latter at Ipswich. But he afterwards became assistant to his father in the church of the same place, and abandoned medicine. He was chosen president of Harvard in April 1682, to succeed Urian Oaks [q.v.], was inaugurated in 1683, but died on 2 July 1684, aged 53, and was succeeded by Increase Mather [q.v.]. By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of General Denison, he left a numerous family in America, three sons being ministers, the youngest, John Rogers of Ipswich, himself leaving three sons, all ministers.

[Sprague’s Annals of the American Pulpit, i. 87; Chester’s John Rogers, 1861, p. 246; preface to Firmin’s Real Christian; Davids’s Hist. of Evangel. Nonconform. in Essex, p. 148; Mather’s Magnalia, ed. 1853, i. 414–23; Neal’s Hist. of Puritans, ii. 252; McClintock and Strong’s Encycl. of Bibl. and Eccles. Lit. ix. 64; Felt’s Hist. of Ipswich, Mass. p. 219; Beaumont’s Hist. of Coggeshall, p. 217; Dale’s Annals of Coggeshall, p. 155; Essex. Archaeol. Trans. iv. 193; Mercurius Britannicus, August 1644; Winthrop’s Hist. of New England, 1853, i. 244; Gage’s Hist. of Rowley, Mass. p. 15; Mass. Hist. Collections, iv. 2, 3, v. 240, 274, vi. 554; Harl. MS. 6071, ff. 467, 482; Registers of Emmanuel College, per the master. For the son see McClintock and Strong’s Encycl. of Bibl. and Eccles. Lit. ix. 63; Sprague’s Annals of Amer. Pulpit, i. 147; Savage’s Geneal. Dict. of First Settlers, iii. 564, where the question of Rogers of Dedham’s descent from John Rogers the martyr is discussed; Harl. MS. 6071, f. 482; Allen’s American Biogr. Dict.]


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