Rogers, James Guinness (DNB12)
ROGERS, JAMES GUINNESS (1822–1911), congregational divine, one of thirteen children of Thomas Rogers (1796–1854), of Cornish birth, by his wife Anna, daughter of Edwin Stanley, of Irish birth (connected, through her mother, with the Guinness family), was born on 29 December 1822 at Enniskillen, where his father (like his mother, originally an Anglican) was a preacher in the service of the Irish Evangelical Society (congregational). His father, a successful preacher, removed to Armagh, and in 1826 to Prescot, where he was 'on terms of close intimacy with the unitarian minister,' Gilbert William Elliott. His first schoohng was at Silcoates, near Wakefield. Through the kindness of his relative, Arthur Guinness (1768–1855), grandfather of Baron Ardilaun and of Viscount Iveagh, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a contemporary of William Digby Seymour [q. v.], and latterly was engaged as teacher in an English school. After graduating B.A. in 1843 he entered the Lancashire Independent College, Manchester, where he had as contemporaries Robert Alfred Vaughan [q. v.] and Enoch Mellor; the latter appears to have influenced him most. Leaving in 1845, he was ordained on 15 April 1846, and became minister of St. James's chapel, Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he had to combat the rationalistic spirit engendered by Joseph Barker [q. v.] and came under the spell of Edward Miall [q. v.]. In 1851 he removed to the pastorate of Albion Chapel, Ashton-under-Lyne, then known as 'Cricketty,' from its situation on Crickets' Lane (a fine Gothic structure now takes its place). His ministry here was one of great power, and he was the means of erecting new school premises. In 1857 charges of heresy were brought against Samuel Davidson [q. v. Suppl. I], who as one of his tutors had taken part in the ordination of Rogers. The main point was an alleged impugning of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Nothing contributed more to the expulsion of Davidson from his chair in the Lancashire Independent College than a bitter pamphlet, 'Dr. Davidson: His Heresies, Contradictions, and Plagiarisms. By Two Graduates' [namely, Mellor and Rogers] (1867). Long after, Rogers wrote of Davidson: 'The controversies of later years separated us, but they never led me to forget or underrate the benefit I derived from his patient, painstaking, and most valuable labours' (Autobiog. 1903, p. 70); this contradicts the tone of the, pamphlet, but Rogers was a man who mellowed in many respects as time went on. In 1865 he was chairman of the Lancashire Congregational Union. In the same year he removed to the pastorate of Clapham (Gratton Square) congregational church. Here he ministered till 1900. His denomination honoured him by making him chairman of the Surrey Congregational Union (1868), of the London Congregational Union, and of the Congregational Union of England and Wales (1874). His influence extended beyond his own body, till he came to be regarded, almost as Calamy had been in the early eighteenth century, as the representative of sober yet convinced nonconformity, and was trusted as such by leading authorities in church and state. His friendship with Gladstone was not merely political, but rested on a common feeling of the necessary religious basis for public movements. Edinburgh University made him an honorary D.D. in 1895. He retained his interest in public affairs and his power of address almost to the last. After a short period of failing health he died at his residence, 109 North Side, Clapham Common, on 20 August 1911, and was buried at Morden cemetery, Raynes Park.
He married in 1846 EUzabeth (d. 1909), daughter of Thomas Greenall (1788-1851), minister of Bethesda Church, Burnley (1814r-48). His three sons and one daughter survived him.
His publications include: 1. 'The Life of Christ,' 1849 (twelve lectures). 2. 'The Ritual Movement. A Reason for Disestablishment,' 1869. 3. 'Why ought not the State to give Religious Education ?' 1872. 4. 'Nonconformity as a Spiritual Force,' 1874. 6. 'Facts and Fallacies re-relating to Disestablishment,' 1875. 6. 'Anglican Church Portraits,' 1876 (a book of merit). 7. 'The Church Systems of England in the Nineteenth Century,' 1881, 1891. 8. 'Friendly Disendowment,' 1881. 9. 'Clericalism and Congregationalism,' 1882 (Jubilee lecture. Congregational Union). 10. 'Present-day Religion and Theology; . . . Down-grade Controversy,' 1888. 11. 'The Forward Movement of the Christian Church,' 1893. 12. ' The Gospel in the Epistles,' 1897. 13. ’The Christian Ideal: a Study for the Times,' 1898. 14. 'An Autobiography,' 1903 (five portraits; vivid impressions, with lack of dates). 15. 'The Unchanging Faith,' 1907 (his best book; has a Quaker publisher). He also edited the 'Congregationalist' (1879-86) and the 'Congregational Review' (1887–91).
[Autobiography, 1903; The Times, 21 Aug. 1911; Who's Who, 1911; Congregational Year Book, 1912; B. Nightingale's Lancashire Nonconformity, 1891, ii. 159, iv. 161, 245.]