John Rogers (the Martyr) (13th GGF)
BIRTH 4 FEB 1507 • Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
DEATH 4 FEB 1555 • Warwick, Nottinghamshire, England
Rev. John Rogers was a sixth generation Rogers who chose to become a clergyman. He was born circa 1500 in the parish of Aston, near Birmingham at the family home ‘Deritend’. He was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1526. He was then chosen to the Cardinal’s College at Oxford and soon thereafter went into holy orders in the Roman Catholic Church. On 26 December 1532, he became Rector of the Church of Holy Trinity in the city of London and served two years. He resigned in 1534 and went to Antwerp as chaplain to the English merchants.
Here he met William Tyndale, under whose influence he abandoned the Roman Catholic faith and, in 1536, married Adriana Pratt alias ‘de Weedy’ (a surname which means ‘meadow’, in Latin “Prata,” but anglicized into Pratt). They had eleven children – 8 sons and 3 daughters. Susan, John, and Daniel were born in Brabant; the next seven children (including our ancestor Bernard Rogers who was son number five) were born at Wittenberg in Saxony, and the three youngest born in England.
“After Tyndale’s death Rogers pushed on with his predecessor’s English version of the Old Testament, which he used as far as 2nd Chronicles, employing Coverdale’s translation (1535) for the remainder and for the Apocrphya. (Early Christian writings not included in the New Testament) Tyndale’s New Testament had been published in 1526. The complete Bible was put out under the pseudonym of Thomas Matthew in 1537; it was printed in Antwerp. This edition was sometimes called the “Matthew Bible”. The Antwerp publishers got permission to sell 1500 copies in England. His work was largely used by those who prepared the Great Bible (1539-40), out of which in turn came the Bishop’s Bible (1568) and the Authorized Version of 1611 (King James Version).
After taking charge of a Protestant congregation in Wittenberg for some years, Rogers returned to England in 1548. In 1550, he became Rector of St. Margaret Moyses and, in the following year he was made Vicar of St. Sepulchre in London. In 1551 he was made a prebendary (a canon or clergyman who is entitled to a stipend [prebend] for special services at a cathedral or collegiate church) In April, 1552, his family were naturalized under a special act of Parliament.
He continued his church work until the accession of Queen Mary to the throne, when on Sunday after her triumphal entry into London 16 July, 1553, he preached a sermon at St. Paul’s Cross commending the “true doctrine taught in King Edward’s days,,” and warning his hearers against “pestilent Popery,” he was summoned before the council and commanded to remain at home. He never preached again. In January 1554 Bonner, the new bishop of London, sent him to Newgate Prison where he remained for about a year.
On 22 January 1554/5 Rogers and other Protestant preachers were brought before the Privy Council and examined. Cardinal Pole, on 28 January 1554/5, ordered a commission to proceed against persons liable to prosecution under the statutes against heresy, and six days later through sanction of the Council, Rogers was condemned and sentenced as an excommunicated heretic, to be burned to death at the stake at Smithfield. This sentence was carried out the morning of Monday 4 February 1554/5 (Julian calendar). He was not even allowed to see his wife and children before he died. He had been offered a pardon if he would renounce Protestantism, but with holy scorn he utterly refused it. He was the first Protestant martyr of Mary’s reign, and his friend Bradford wrote that “he broke the ice valiantly.”
Underwood’s last paragraph on pp. 25-6 of his book on The Rogers Family states: “He (John Rogers) was born of parents whose descent reached back into the best blood of England, nearly all adherents to the Church of Rome; yet displaying true bravery of soul, he dared to throw off the Roman cloak and assert the freedom of conscience-thought in a belief of independent formation and government of the Church representing the Christian religion. He was a saintly type of man, whose burning was a stain on Queen Mary and the Roman Catholic Church, that never can be effaced.”