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Rogers, John (1627-1665?) (DNB00)

ROGERS, JOHN (1627–1665?), fifth-monarchy man, born in 1627 at Messing in Essex, was second son of Nehemiah Rogers [q. v.], by his wife Margaret, sister of William Collingwood, a clergyman of Essex, who was appointed canon of St. Paul's after the Restoration. In early life John experienced a deep conviction of sin. After five years he obtained assurance of salvation, but not before he had more than once in his despair attempted his own life. Thenceforth he threw in his lot with the most advanced section of puritans, and in consequence was turned out of doors by his father in 1642. He made his way on foot to Cambridge, where he was already a student of medicine and a servitor at King's College. But the civil war had broken out, and Cambridge was doing penance for its loyalty. King's College Chapel was turned into a drill-room, and the servitors dismissed. Rogers, almost starved, was driven to eat grass, but in 1643 he obtained a post in a school in Lord Brudenel's house in Huntingdonshire, and afterwards at the free school at St. Neots. In a short time he became well known in Huntingdonshire as a preacher, and, returning to Essex, he received presbyterian ordination in 1647. About the same time he married a daughter of Sir Robert Payne of Midloe in Huntingdonshire, and became 'settled minister' of Purleigh in Essex, a valuable living. Rogers, however, found country life uncongenial, and, engaging a curate, he proceeded to London. There he renounced his presbyterian ordination, and joined the independents. Becoming lecturer at St. Thomas Apostle's, he preached violent political sermons in support of the Long parliament.

In 1650 he was sent to Dublin by parliament as a preacher. Christ Church Cathedral was assigned him by the commissioners as a place of worship (Reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ii. 245). He did not, however, confine himself to pastoral work, but 'engaged in the field, and exposed his life freely,' for conscience' sake. A schism arising in his congregation owing to the adoption by a party among them of anabaptist principles, he wearied of the controversy, and returned to England in 1652 (ib. ii. 260). In the following year his parishioners at Purleigh cited him for non- residence, and, much to his sorrow, he lost the living.

Rogers was now no longer the champion of parliament. In its quarrel with the army it had alienated the independents whose cause Rogers had espoused. Amid the unsettlement of men's opinions, which the disputes of presbyterians and independents aggravated, the fifth-monarchy men came into being, and Rogers was one of the foremost to join them. Their creed suited his ecstatic temperament. They believed in the early realisation of the millennium, when Christ was to establish on earth 'the fifth monarchy' in fulfilment of the prophecy of the prophet Daniel. According to their scheme of government, all political authority ought to reside in the church under the guidance of Christ himself. They wished to establish a body of delegates chosen by the independent and presbyterian congregations, vested with absolute authority, and determining all things by the Word of God alone. In 1653 Rogers published two controversial works 'Bethshemesh, or Tabernacle for the Sun,' in which he assailed the presbyterians, and ' Sagrir, or Doomes-day drawing nigh,' in which he attacked the 'ungodly laws and lawyers of the Fourth Monarchy,' and also the collection of tithes. The two books indicate the date of his change of views. 'Bethshemesh' is written from the normal independent standpoint, while in 'Sagrir ' he has developed all the characteristics of a fifth-monarchy man. The forcible dissolution of the Long parliament met with Rogers's thorough approbation. Besides doctrinal differences, he had personal quarrels with several prominent members. Sir John Maynard [q. v.] had appeared against him as advocate for the congregation at Purleigh. Zachary Crofton [q. v.] had anonymously attacked his preaching in a pamphlet entitled 'A Taste of the Doctrine of Thomas Apostle;' at a later date Crofton renewed the controversy by publishing a reply to 'Bethshemesh' styled 'Bethshemesh Clouded.'

After Cromwell's coup d'état Rogers occupied himself with inditing two long addresses to that statesman, in which he recommended a system of government very similar to that which was actually inaugurated. His utterances were no doubt inspired by those in power. This accord did not survive the dissolution of Cromwell's first parliament and his assumption of the title of Lord Protector. By that act he destroyed the most cherished hopes of the fifth-monarchy men, when they seemed almost to have reached fruition. In consequence they kept no terms with the government, and two of them, Feake and Powell, were summoned before the council and admonished. Rogers addressed a cautionary epistle to Cromwell, and, finding that the Protector persisted in his course, he assailed him openly from the pulpit. Being denounced as a conspirator in 1654, his house was searched and his papers seized (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654, p. 434). This drew from him another denunciation, 'Mene, Tekel, Perez: a Letter lamenting over Oliver, Lord Cromwell.' On 28 March he proclaimed a solemn day of humiliation for the sins of the rulers. His sermon, in which he likened Whitehall to Sodom and demonstrated that Cromwell had broken the first eight commandments (time preventing his proceeding to the last two), procured his arrest and imprisonment in Lambeth. On 5 Feb. 1655 he was brought from prison to appear before Cromwell. Supported by his fellows he held undauntedly by his former utterances, and desired Cromwell 'to remember that he must be judged, for the day of the Lord was near.' On 30 March he was removed to Windsor, and on 9 Oct. to the Isle of Wight (ib. 1655, pp. 374, 579, 608, 1656-7 p. 12). He was released in January 1657, and immediately returned to London (ib. 1656-7, p. 194). He found the fifth-monarchy men at the height of their discontent, one conspiracy succeeding another. Although some caution seems to have been instilled into Rogers by his imprisonment, and there is no proof that he was actually concerned in any plot, yet informations were repeatedly laid against him, and on 3 Feb. 1658 he was sent to the Tower on the Protector's warrant (Thurloe, vi. 163, 185, 186, 349, 775; Whitelocke, p. 672; Somers, State Tracts, vi. 482; Burton, Diary, iii. 448, 494; Merc. Pol. Nos. 402, 403, 411). His imprisonment, however, lasted only till 16 April. Four and a half months later Cromwell died. The fifth-monarchy men followed Sir Henry Vane in opposing Richard Cromwell's succession. Rogers rendered himself conspicuous by denouncing the son from the pulpit as vehemently as he had formerly denounced the father (Reliquiae Baxteriana, i. 101). On Richard's abdication the remnant of the Long parliament was recalled to power, and Rogers rejoiced at its reinstatement as sincerely as he had formerly triumphed over its expulsion. At the same time he involved himself in controversy with William Prynne [q. v.] Both supported 'the good old cause,' but differed in defining it. Prynne remained true to the older ideal of limited monarchy, while Rogers advocated a republic with Christ himself as its invisible sovereign.

Rogers was a source of disquietude even to the party he supported, and they took the precaution of directing him to proceed to Ireland 'to preach the gospel there' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659-60, p. 35). The insurrection of Sir George Booth [q. v.] saved him for a time from exile in Ireland, which was by no means to his taste, and procured him the post of chaplain in Charles Fairfax's regiment. He served through the campaign against Booth, and at its conclusion was relieved of his duties in Ireland (ib. p. 211). In October he was nominated to a lectureship at Shrewsbury (ib. p. 251), but he was again in Dublin by the end of the year, and was imprisoned there for a time by the orders of the army leaders, after they had dissolved the remnant of the Long parliament. The parliament ordered his release immediately on regaining its ascendency, and he took advantage of the opportunity to secure himself from the greater dangers of the Restoration by taking refuge in Holland (ib. pp. 326, 328, 576). There he resumed the study of medicine, both at Leyden and Utrecht, and received from the latter university the degree of M.D. In 1662 he returned to England and resided at Bermondsey. In 1664 he was admitted to an ad eundem degree of M.D. at Oxford. In the following year advertisements appeared in the 'Intelligencer' and 'News' of 'Alexiterial and Antipestilential Medicine, an admirable and experimented preservative from the Plague,' 'made up by the order of J. R., M.D.' The phraseology would seem to indicate that these advertisements proceeded from his pen. No mention of him is to be found after 1665, and it is difficult to suppose that so versatile and so vivacious a writer could have been suddenly silenced except by death. The burial of one John Rogers appears in the parish register on 22 June 1670, but the name is too common in the district to render the identity more than possible.

By his wife Elizabeth he left two sons : John (1649-1710), a merchant of Plymouth, and prison-born, who was born during his father's confinement at Windsor in 1655; two other children, Peter and Paul (twins), died in Lambeth prison. A portrait of Rogers, painted by Saville, was engraved by W. Hollar in 1653, and prefixed to Rogers's 'Bethshemesh, or Tabernacle for the Sun.' There is another engraving by R. Gaywood.

Besides the works already mentioned, Rogers was the author of : 1 . 'Dod or Chathan. The Beloved; or the Bridegroom going forth for his Bride, and looking out for his Japhegaphitha,' London, 1653, 4to (Brit.Mus.) 2. 'Prison-born Morning Beams,' London, 1654: not extant; the introduction forms part of 3. 'Jegar Sahadutha, or a Heart Appeal,' London, 1657, 4to. 4. 'Mr. Prynne's Good Old Cause stated and stunted ten year ago,' London, 1659; not extant. 5. ' Διαπολιτεία, a Christian Concertation,' London, 1659, 4to (Brit. Mus.) 6. ' Mr. Harrington's Parallel Unparalleled,' London, 1659, 4to. 7. 'A Vindication of Sir Henry Vane,' 1659, 4to. 8. 'Disputatio Medica Inauguralis,' Utrecht, 1662; 2nd edit. London, 1665.

[Edward Rogers's Life and Opinions of a Fifth-Monarchy Man, 1867: Rogers's Works; Chester's John Rogers, the First Martyr, p. 282; Wood's Athenae, ed. Bliss, passim; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 279.]

E. I. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.238
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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132 i 28 Rogers, John (1627-1665?): for prison-born read Prison-born