Here it may be well

We left John Rogers on his way back to prison, there to remain until
the March term of the Superior Court, because he would not promise
“good behavior” (“as if I had misbehaved myself.” Part I., Chapter

Against tyranny in high places, there is ever at hand the one
highest appeal, that to the public at large, where is always in
reserve a good measure of sympathy and sense of justice. Not only is
our hero stirred through and through by this personal and
ecclesiastical thrust, under guise of righteous administration of
law, on the part of an official who has for so many years occupied
the position of a reverend preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
but he knows well of this last appeal, which has heretofore stood
him in good stead against the bitter edicts of these half—if not
wholly—ecclesiastical courts. Though as yet there are no newspapers,
there are eyes to see, ears to hear, and tongues to carry fast and

What recks this Samson of their paltry “goal”? Somehow, without show
of physical force (the least sign of which would surely have been
entered on the court record), he makes the sheriff quail. The
lightning in his eyes, perchance, the deep tones of a voice that
never breathes an oath, even to swear by in a court; uttering
ominous words to some such effect as that he “will seal his quarrel
with his blood.” Should he attempt escape from the sheriff his death
could be accomplished, then and there.

The sheriff returns to the court-room (meeting-house) and reports to
the court that John Rogers is conducting himself in a “furious”
manner, “threatening that the jail shall not hold him and that he
will seal his quarrel with his blood”; the sheriff “fears he will
break out of jail and do mischief to some of her Majesty’s
subjects.” What subject but himself, through punishment which can be
inflicted upon him for breaking away from an officer, which is a
capital crime on the law book.

The quickly forthcoming order of the court (Judge Saltonstall) that
John Rogers shall be placed in irons at need, “for preventing
mischief,” is but the beginning of the plot now in contemplation.

By further order of the judge and governor (one and the same) John
Rogers is to be conducted from the ordinary prison to the “inner”
prison.[114] The latter is not yet finished, and is half a mile from
the house of the jailer. It has as yet no underpinning, but stands
above the ground on blocks. The green planks of which the floor was
made are much shrunken, leaving large cracks for the entrance of the
wind, and there is “an open window towards the northwest.” There is
no fireplace, nor any means for making a fire; moreover, by the
orders, no fire is to be allowed this prisoner.[114] It is October
and unusually cold and stormy for this time of year.

Footnote 114:

For John Roger’s description of this prison and his imprisonment,
see Part I., Chapter V.

How does John Rogers, Jr., manage to communicate with his father in
this place? He must scale the high fence surrounding the prison
yard, to make his way to the “open window” of the prison, whose
grates will not admit the passage of any fuel, even if a place could
be found within in which to make a fire. This son comes, under cover
of the darkness, to give such aid and comfort as he may, and
especially in the cold nights, which indicates that he contrives to
furnish some slight means of warmth.

Until November 16 of this unusually inclement season, John Rogers,
at the age of sixty-three, is a solitary prisoner in this inner
prison, with such apology for a fire as his son can provide, by
coming two miles after dark to the prison window.

Governor Saltonstall, sitting beside his beaming hearth, already
furnished with its huge back-log, gives no pitiful thought to the
man whom he has denied an honest trial, and now forbids so much as a
fire to keep him from death’s door.

On the bitter cold night of November 16, John, Jr., coming the long
two miles over the rough Mohegan road, and making his way, by
scaling the prison fence, to the grated, open window, finds his
father incapable of the usual intelligent response. Over the fence
again he hurries, and out into the streets of the sleeping town,
calling loudly at the sheriff’s house: “You have murdered my father
in prison to-night!!!” “The Authority has murdered my father!!!”
(County Court Record.) Not only are the sheriff, his instigators and
their sympathizers aroused by this loud and ringing cry of alarm in
the dead of night, but also some of the many who are friendly to the
prisoner. These latter spring with alacrity from their beds, at the
news that John Rogers is dead, or dying, on this wild night, in the
distant and fireless inner prison, through which the bitter winds
are whistling.

Mr. Adams, the minister, a man of a kind heart, despite
ecclesiastical fidelity, cannot turn a deaf ear to this report
concerning the imprisoned dissenter. He and his wife show their
humanity by sending a bottle of wine and a bottle of cordial to the
sufferer. At the popular demand, the captive, almost senseless with
cold and the malady resulting therefrom, is conveyed to the warm
house of the sheriff,[115] where he at length revives.

Footnote 115:

This house is a tavern, and has in it the ordinary prison. It is
near the Mill Cove.

John Rogers, Jr., is brought before the County Court in New London a
fortnight later, on charge of making a disturbance in the night, and
fined £3. He is granted a review at the court to be held in June,
and required to give bonds for “good behavior,” until his trial
before the said court shall occur. Refusing to acknowledge, by
giving the required bond, that he has done anything wrong, he is
consigned to jail until session of the June court.

At this same November court, we find several other cases relating to
this history. Samuel Beebe again demands of Capt. James Rogers the
land made over to himself by the irregular “deed” of the widow. He
and John Keeney and wife (formerly wife of Jonathan Rogers) make
claim to all the “moveables” by the same document. These cases go
against the plaintiffs. Samuel Beebe appeals to the Superior Court.

At this court, also, James, Jr., makes another effort for poor Joan.
The case having already been settled on one presentment, he bases
his complaint upon different grounds. He says that, in the preceding
June, Samuel Beebe brought a suit against John and Bathsheba,
previous administrators, for possession of Joan, on plea that she
was given to Elizabeth Beebe by the widow as part payment of the
legacy of £10; but that for Samuel Beebe to make claim of John and
Bathsheba at that date—he himself being at said date executor of the
estate in place of John Rogers—or for John and Bathsheba to appear
on a court summons to answer such complaint of Samuel Beebe was
irregular procedure. He states that, at the time Samuel Beebe
declares this disposal of Joan by the widow to have been made, the
latter was incapable of managing any business, or even of taking
care of herself, and was under the guardianship of John and
Bathsheba, according to the intent of the testator; also, by order
of the court, they were her guardians and the managers of the
estate; so that she had no right to dispose of Joan, neither had any
possession of her at the time. He avers that by John and Bathsheba
illegally joining a false issue with Samuel Beebe, in not reminding
the court that they were no longer executors,[116] Joan had been
adjudged to Samuel Beebe and taken by execution. He demands Joan
with damages. It is a good case, but of course it fails. The court
is not willing to reverse its former decision. James, Jr., appeals
to the Superior Court. But it will be useless to ask the judge of
that court to alter a decision by means of which he has been able to
incarcerate his opponent. (The case is not brought before the
Superior Court, but apparently dropped as a useless endeavor.)

Footnote 116:

They could not so remind the court, it being contrary to the will
for them to give up their executorship, or to have anything to do
with the court.

Late in this month of November, occurs the death of Bathsheba
(Rogers) Fox.[117] She has been heroically faithful to the departure
instituted in 1674, only, at the last, to see this beloved brother
again in the iron clutches of ecclesiastical hatred, he who would
have been among the first to hasten to her bedside. How bitter to
him, in those last days of his devoted sister, must have been the
cruel bonds that held him at a distance, while she went down to

Footnote 117:

The esteem and affection in which Bathsheba was held by her
husband, Samuel Fox, may be estimated by the fact that he not only
gave valuable lands to her sons by Richard Smith in her lifetime,
but, although he had married again, left by will, sixteen years
after her death, to her sons by the name of Smith, yet living
(James and John), £40 each, and to her three daughters by Richard
Smith, £10 each.


Under date of March 7th of this year, we find a deed of gift[118] of
some land (adjoining Mamacock farm) from John, Sr., to John, Jr.,
with the statement therein that this gift is to make up to his son
for the land that had been taken from the latter for a fine of £20
imposed upon himself (Part I., Chapter V.), also for a choice cow
and a considerable number of sheep that had been taken from his son
to satisfy like claims against himself. He states that this gift is
also to stand as a testimony of his appreciation of the fact that
this son who

“was taken from me in his infancy, upon the account of my
differing in judgment, and ordered by the Authority to be brought
up in their principles, incensing him against me his own father,
and thus kept from me till he came to a young man’s estate; yet,
notwithstanding, last winter now past, hath been an instrument in
the hands of God, to preserve my life in an unfinished prison,
with an open window facing towards the northwest, I being fined
and imprisoned by two several courts without any trial of law by a

Footnote 118:

This deed must have been written in prison. It is recorded among
New London land deeds.

It will be remembered that John Rogers is still in prison, awaiting
the sitting of the March session of the Superior Court in New
London. This now opens, March 25, at the meeting-house.

At the opening of the court, the sheriff announces that he has kept
John Rogers safely until now and has him still in custody. The court
orders the sheriff to set said prisoner at large.

Samuel Beebe fails to follow up his claim on land of Capt. James at
this court, but renews the suit regarding alleged gifts of the widow
to his wife, viz., “moveables,” including certain young slaves
belonging to the estate of James Rogers. He enters suit, by his
attorney, Colonel Livingston, against Samuel Fox (husband of
Bathsheba) for two negroes with £5 damages, and against John Rogers,
Jr., for three negroes; all five being free negroes in employ of
said persons. The verdict goes against him. John Keeney and wife
also lose a similar suit for similar alleged gifts on the part of
the widow.

On this same day, James Rogers, Jr., having presented his accounts,
etc., to the Probate Court, as executor, said court orders
distribution to be made of the residue of the estate (movables),
according to regular form of law when a person dies intestate; a
double portion to Samuel, as oldest son, the remainder to be equally
divided between the other children. This gives James Rogers
one-eighth of the movables, instead of the much larger share
accorded by the codicil. Evidently self-interest had no part in the
move made by James, Jr. Now comes the part of Samuel Rogers in this
final issue. He states to the court, “in writing,” that he has
already, and before his mother’s decease, received, by the terms of
agreement among the heirs, according to his father’s will, all that
was due[119] to him from his father’s estate, to his full
satisfaction, and absolutely quits claim to anything further. Joshua
Hempstead is ordered to make distribution.

Footnote 119:

This due to him was £200 secured by note, and paid to him by the

(N.B. There has now been placed before the reader the sum and
substance of all the litigation in regard to the estate of James
Rogers, upon which Miss Caulkins founded her statement regarding
“contention” among his children.)

The very next day,[120] March 26 (by Superior Court record), while
the court is still in session, John Rogers is taking a convert to
the Mill Cove for baptism. In doing so, he passes near the house of
the sheriff, where he has so recently been a prisoner. Accompanying
him are a number of his Society, among them John Bolles, John
Rogers, Jr., and James Smith, son of Bathsheba. Time and again,
since that notable day in 1677, has John Rogers baptized persons in
this Mill Cove, directly under the windows of Governor Saltonstall,
so to speak, whose house stands near by on a hillside rising from
the cove. Certain lands bordering this cove remain in Rogerene

Footnote 120:

What follows (as far as December, 1713), is derived from
statements of John Rogers (see Part I., Chapter V.), from records
of Superior Court in New London March 26, and from record of
County Court of New London, before which court were arraigned
those who prevented the seizure of John Rogers without a warrant.

If the sheriff and his chief have judged that the heroic treatment
of the past eleven months has cooled the ardor of the dissenters,
here is unmistakable proof to the contrary. If the sheriff can nip
this bold little act in the bud, formally or informally, he may be
sure of the governor’s co-operation and hearty commendation. On plea
of wishing to speak with John Rogers, he persuades him to enter his
house (which, as before said, contains the prison). He then
endeavors to force him to enter a door leading into the prison. The
friends of John Rogers, who have followed him into the house, Upon
seeing the latter purpose on the part of the sheriff, surround their
leader, to prevent hands being laid upon him, and others in the
tavern join them in declaring that no arrest can legally be made
without a warrant. The sheriff leaves, with the avowed purpose of
going to the court-room (meeting-house) for a “mittimus.” Here,
within this brief period of time, are two outrages upon the law;
first, an attempt to take a prisoner without a warrant; second, to
seek warrant for an arrest not authorized by law; the only penalty
concerning such baptism being a fine after the occurrence of said
baptism; imprisonment following only in event of non-payment of the
fine. Well may the victim turn and follow the sheriff to the

The sheriff, being somewhat ahead, has already made out a case, so
far as the judge is concerned; nothing more having been necessary
than to state the attempted baptism. Taking into account all that he
has suffered of late from unjust and despotic procedures on the part
of the courts, John Rogers enters the court-room (meeting-house)
fully prepared to denounce this latest outrage.[121]

Footnote 121:

This entrance is thus described on the court records:—

“John Rogers coming into her Majesty’s Superior Court and behaving
himself in a furious, raving manner with mighty crying and
tumultuous noise, and it being certified to this court that ye
said Rogers had gotten some and was endeavoring to gather a
greater number of idle, vagrant persons by a like raving
management of himself, and designed and engaged to dip them in ye
water and said that he would baptise one of them.”

When we remember that the “idle, vagrant persons” accompanying him
were no less substantial citizens than John Rogers, Jr., John
Bolles and men of that stamp, this record assumes the character of
a misrepresentation throughout. Also the contradiction in the
record that John Rogers “designed to dip” an indefinite number “in
the water,” with statement that he said he would baptise “one,” is
significant. No court record regarding John Rogers but must have
been penned with careful reference to the appearance of his
offense before the public, by precaution of those in charge, who
were his enemies.

Vain against the power and determination of Governor Saltonstall are
the ringing tones in which this departure from the written law of
the land is condemned. But well has John Rogers calculated that, in
the presence of all these witnesses, the judge will not venture to
issue the illegal warrant for his arrest. The judge goes on,
however, to sign a warrant (“mittimus”). Although he dare not arrest
John Rogers because of the attempted baptism, he has now a better
excuse and more personal determination also; since John Rogers has
dared to enter the court-room to again publicly denounce official
procedures. He signs a warrant for the arrest of John Rogers, on the
charge of MADNESS!

Well might all the proceedings of the past year, capped by this,
make mad the sanest man, in both senses of the word. The sheriff
claims his prisoner and leads him from the court-room.

A crowd follows sheriff and prisoner to the jail. An uproar ensues
when the window of the prison is darkened by a plank, and that same
plank is broken down by the mob. The appeal of John Rogers, in the
court-room, for the rights of the citizen, has not been made in
vain. All praise to that English lieutenant, who goes to the
Superior Court, still in session, to ask for an adequate examination
of this prisoner, that it may be seen he is under no distraction.
The assurance is returned that the prisoner shall be brought before
the governor in the evening (when danger from the mob may be
avoided) _for a private examination regarding his sanity, by the
very man who has invented this charge of lunacy_! Of the absurdity
of the promised examination, the lieutenant probably knows little or
nothing; but others understand. This evening interview will make the
friends of the governor laugh in their sleeves, while friends of
John Rogers discern a new insult and injury, under this so
transparent cloak of fairness.

Even after dark, the prisoner’s convoy to the house of the governor
is beset with indignant sympathizers, who follow into the very yard
of the governor, where, after the prisoner’s entrance to the house,
they have to be dispersed.

These two men, under these circumstances, stand face to face, behind
closed doors, the one knowing as well as the other that the only
fault or distraction of which John Rogers is guilty is the old crime
of nonconformity. (Would that this remarkable scene and conversation
had been revealed for the benefit of future history.)

After this “examination,” the prisoner is returned to the sheriff,
to be taken to his “house.” With such friendly demonstrations among
the people, John Rogers cannot be confined as a common malefactor or
madman, in the prison at said “house”; he is even allowed the
freedom of the yard during the sheriff’s continued attendance upon
the court, which is sufficiently significant of the known falsity of
the charge of insanity.

Two days after, the sheriff is instructed that, after adjournment of
the court, he is to convey John Rogers to the Hartford prison and
see that he is shut up in a dark room, where a certain French doctor
will “shave his head and give him purges,” to cure him of his
madness. Such treatment, added to all the memories of past wrongs,
would seem enough to give the sanest man the temporary appearance of
a maniac. The more he can be made to appear like a maniac, the more
plausible will be the excuse for consigning him to a worse than
prison cell.

Had it remained for Gurdon Saltonstall to carry out this inhuman
purpose, the statement that John Rogers died in Hartford prison, or
in a madhouse, would probably have ended this man’s history.

Some person, to whom the sheriff confided the inhuman plot, being
friendly to the prisoner, John Rogers is informed of the doom
prepared for him. He goes directly to the sheriff, to inquire into
the truth of the statement, and asks to see the warrant for this new
procedure, which the sheriff shows him. He there recognizes the
handwriting of Gurdon Saltonstall.

Few men could be readier in resources than the man in custody. A
person is quickly found to carry word, this very (Saturday) evening,
to John Rogers, Jr., at Mamacock, of the impending peril. The
hurried message quite suffices. With all possible speed, before the
night is far advanced, John, Jr., is at hand, with a staunch boat,
near by, well manned, to convey his father to Long Island. He has
also money for his use, and, finding him in need of a suitable
shirt, takes off his own and gives him. The boat was easily moored
not far from the prison, which is by the Mill Cove, and also not far
from the Thames River, into which the cove leads.

This boat, propelled by hands well skilled, pulls out from shore, in
cover of the night, and goes to brave the winds and waves of March
across Long Island Sound. John, Jr., returns to Mamacock, with
thrilling tale of this, so far, successful rescue. Many a follower
besides John Bolles anxiously awaits the tidings. Eagerly, no doubt,
they gather in the big front room at the Mamacock “mansion house,”
to talk the matter over and speculate regarding the result, noting
the weather betimes and praying for a bon voyage.

Before dawn, John Rogers is landed at Southold, and makes his way
to the tavern. It will be seen how much he conducts himself either
like a malefactor or a madman. While it is still early morning, he
presents himself before a justice, to inform him of his escape
from the New London sheriff, and the circumstances of the case. A
guard is placed over him until the next day (Monday), when he is
taken before the justices and the law is read to him stating it to
be felony to break out of a constable’s hands. In return, he
places before them a copy of the warrant issued by Governor
Saltonstall for his arrest on the ground of insanity. The
intelligent, self-possessed appearance of the man, as opposed to
this singular declaration of lunacy, occasions these officials no
little perplexity. They withdraw for a private conference. All
agreeing that he is a sane man, they discharge him from custody.
He now informs them of his intention of appealing to the Governor
of New York for protection, and asks them to stop, if possible,
the “Hue and Cry” that will be sent after him, which they kindly
promise to do. The remainder of this story is best told in his own
words (Part I., Chapter V.).

In June of this year, while the refugee is still in New York, a
session of the County Court is being held in New London. The case of
John Rogers, Jr., for the disturbance at night (November 16, 1711),
by which he saved the life of his father, now comes up for review.
He desires to be tried by jury; but the present jury is dismissed
and a special jury impaneled for this case. The fine of £3 and costs
of the previous court is made to stand good against him, and three
of the best cows on Mamacock farm are taken for this fine (see
Chapter IV., last part). Although he was sentenced to imprisonment
until this court for not giving the required bonds, we have seen him
free at the time of his father’s escape to Long Island. The bonds
were doubtless given by a friend, as frequently happens with the

At this June court, John Rogers, Jr., John Bolles, and James Smith
(son of Bathsheba) are complained of for preventing the sheriff from
arresting and imprisoning John Rogers on March 26. The charge is
that these persons “opposed, resisted and abused” the sheriff “by
threatening words, pushing, hunching, and laying hands on John
Rogers,” as said sheriff and the constable were apprehending him. A
jury having been demanded and by good fortune accorded, a verdict of
“not guilty” is rendered, and they are discharged. This shows the
method of defence used by the Rogerenes on this occasion. They
surrounded their leader, forming a human wall about him, and kept
this position in spite of the efforts of sheriff and constable to
lay hands upon him.

Although no reply is returned to the message which the authorities
of New York have sent to the authorities at New London, in behalf of
John Rogers, this proof of friendliness on the part of New York
dignitaries towards the refugee from Connecticut, and their evident
knowledge that this refugee had been imprisoned on false pretences,
has so salutary an effect, that when, after a stay of three months
in New York, the nonconformist boldly returns to New London, no
attempt is made at reimprisonment.

This indomitable man immediately makes a move to prosecute the judge
and justices of the County Court who, in June of the preceding year,
not only tried in New London a case of “man-stealing,” pretended to
have been committed within the jurisdiction of Long Island, but
tried a case of this serious nature—even capital upon the law
book—without a jury. He must be well aware that such protest on his
part is not only likely to be very expensive but wholly ineffectual.
Back of this judge and these justices, stands Governor Saltonstall;
moreover, any blame attaching to them would attach equally to the
governor from having so signally punished the man who had declared
against the illegal proceedings of the court at the time. Yet he
makes the appeal manfully. Those who have heard the previous
circumstances will hear also of the vain effort for justice,
and this itself may help to weaken the despotic rule of an
ecclesiastical clique.


In May of this year, at the session of the General Court, the
judge and justices of the County Court appear, to answer to the
above charges; John Rogers having, by repeated efforts, secured
this much of attention. (See his account, Part I., Chapter V.) The
defendants stand mainly upon objections regarding time and form of
the Petition, on the part of the plaintiff. They say there was
nothing in John Roger’s petition that showed any appearance of
maladministration, and that, had there been any ground for his
complaint, it did not come within the time limited by law. This
shifting from the main ground to technical points, with denial of
any importance to be attached to the significant charges (lack of
jury and wrong jurisdiction), call for legal knowledge and adroit
argument regarding minor points of the law, by way of evading the
question of vital importance. In short, the case is, by legal
device, taken away from the plaintiff at the start. As a show of
justice, the court offers the plaintiff legal counsel; not to
decide whether this case should have been tried where, and as, it
was tried, but mainly whether the plaintiff’s petition was within
the time specified by law. Every difficulty possible had been
placed in his way to retard the case, doubtless with this very end
in view. The plaintiff refuses to make any reply, since he can
reply to nothing but legal evasions. It being proven to the
satisfaction of this court that John Rogers has nothing to
complain of, he is ordered to pay the expenses of the judge and
justices for their attendance on the court.

This man has ever in such cases a last resort, to be used at
whatever peril. Then and there, before this assembly, he again
charges the County Court held in New London, with “felony, rapine
and injustice,” and moreover declares the daring truth that the
Governor of this Colony, here present, is an abettor of the same.
The court, having considered his offense and high misdemeanor,
resolve that he shall pay a fine of £20 to the public treasury, and
execution upon his property is to be granted by the Secretary.

In November of this year, Capt. James Rogers passes away. To the
last, he has been a busy man on land and sea. July 1st he returned
from one of his voyages to the Barbadoes (“Hempstead Diary”). He
owned and operated a tannery and cooper’s establishment at Goshen.
He left a large estate, and followed his father’s example in
desiring his children to settle the same out of court. This
settlement proceeded in a perfectly orderly and harmonious manner.
Despite the fact that his sons, James and Richard, had become
connected with the Congregational church, he and his wife evidently
continued in their nonconformist faith, as particularly proven by
the remonstrance of 1695.[122]

Footnote 122:

That Capt. James, like his brother John, gave up the seventh-day
sabbath, adopting the first day for religious services, is
indicated by the fact that those of his children that remained
Baptists were first-day Baptists. The same is true of the family
of Joseph Rogers, many of whose descendants were (and are)
Baptists of the regular persuasion.

Nothing has been found to disprove the supposition that Capt.
James Rogers and his wife and Joseph Rogers and his wife continued
in the Rogerene faith to the end. John Rogers had many followers,
while the names of only a few of those more conspicuous in
leadership are revealed to us by the court records. The fact that
certain sons of Capt. James and of Joseph inclined to, and finally
united with, the Congregational church readily accounts for the
less prominent stand of their parents.

In December of this year, occurs the death of Samuel Rogers in his
73d year. Although this evidently superior man, by his distaste for
controversy and public proceedings, as well as by his busy life in
developing the new lands of Mohegan (whereby his name is written all
over the early books of New London land records), has succeeded in
hiding himself largely from the view of future generations; yet when
compelled to present himself to such view, he has always been found
acting the manly part. Throughout the early period of persecution,
he was plainly in sympathy with his father and brothers, and proofs
of continued sympathy with the Rogerene cause are evident to the
last. He kept quietly but firmly aloof from the church that
persecuted his relatives, despite counter-influences in his own
family. For some twenty years of his early manhood, he conducted the
bakery business on the former large scale and handed it to his son
unimpaired. Besides the enterprises of his pioneer life, he was a
shipowner and business man at large. Although possessed of great
wealth for his time, he so managed to distribute his property in his
lifetime that little more than cattle and movables remained to be
disposed of after his death, which personal estate was left to his
wife Joanna, the executrix. In his will is the following clause:
“one cow and six sheep to be delivered unto John Rogers, son of
brother John Rogers, to be disposed of as I have ordered him.” Also
the executrix is to act with the advice of above said John Rogers
and Samuel Fox, “oldest son of my brother Samuel Fox” (husband of
Bathsheba). At the writing of this will, February 13, 1713, the
testator states that he is in “perfect health.”


Mary, the second wife of John Rogers, was, a number of years since,
married to Robert Jones of Block Island.[123] It is now fifteen
years since John Rogers took her for his wife and twelve years since
their enforced separation. He has recently become attached to an
estimable widow, by the name of Sarah Cole, of Oyster Bay, L.I., a
member of the Quaker Society of that locality. Although favorable to
his suit, she is yet inclined to hesitate, on account of rumors that
have been circulated in regard to his separation from Mary. In his
prompt, straightforward way, he desires her to accompany him to
Block Island, to learn from Mary herself if she has anything to say
against him. This request is so reassuring, that the publication of
their marriage intentions takes place at New London, July 4, 1714
(“Hempstead Diary”), after which they visit Mary at her home on
Block Island. Mary gives Mrs. Cole so favorable an account of John
Rogers and the treatment she herself received from him, that the
ceremony is performed by Justice Wright before they leave the

Footnote 123:

See John Rogers, 2d, Part I., Chapter V.

[There is evidence, from the court records and testimony of Peter
Pratt,[124] that this wife, Sarah, was of attractive personality,
also that she was a zealous religious co-worker with her husband,
and that they lived happily together at Mamacock, with John, Jr.,
and his family and the two children of Mary.]

Footnote 124:

“Prey Taken from the Strong.”


One of the spasmodic attempts to secure more strict enforcement of
ecclesiastical laws is instituted about this period. Edicts have
been issued by the General Court charging the various officials to
observe greater stringency in the execution of all these laws. That
this sudden and severe pull on the rein does not occasion a general
and continued uprising on the part of the Rogerenes, is only
explainable on the supposition that the first attempt to lay hands
on them anew having brought forth the countermove, the authorities
have thought best to desist from further serious molestation. The
particulars of this countermove are as follows:—

April 22, 1716, there is an entry into the Congregational
meetinghouse by John Rogers and his wife Sarah, John Bolles and his
wife Sarah, John Culver and his wife Sarah, and several others,
names not given. The cause of the disturbance is, as usual in
affairs of this kind, studiously ignored on the court records; but
evidently—as afterwards indicated—this entry, with scriptural
testimony not revealed, was occasioned by the breaking up of
Rogerene meetings by the town authorities, with the accompanying
feature, a church-party mob. As has been seen, the Rogerene
meetings, not being among those allowed by law, can at any time be
broken up at the pleasure or caprice of the authorities, and their
continued existence has depended, not upon the willing forbearance
of the ecclesiastical rulers, nor, to any really saving extent, upon
the public sympathy enlisted in their favor; but chiefly upon that
formidable reserve power—the entrance into the meeting-house, with
scriptural testimony.

Proof of the exact date of this countermove and that the
before-mentioned persons were concerned in it, is contained in the
“Hempstead Diary” and a record of the General Court in the following
month (May). By the latter record, Governor Saltonstall, referring
in this assembly to the offense committed by the said persons,
states that they are now in New London jail.[125] The governor also
states that he learns, from “relatives” of the prisoners, that they
were ignorant of the provisions, under the law of 1708 (see Chapter
VII.), relating to those who soberly dissent. Probably said
relatives have been far more ignorant of this law than have any of
the Rogerenes, who are naturally watching all ecclesiastical
regulations with lynx-like vigilance and are particularly aware that
there is no relief for their Society in this law, as allowed in the
Colony of Connecticut. The governor knows just what the Rogerenes
know in this regard. But he goes on to order that the said prisoners
be released—ostensibly on the ground of this ignorance declared by
their friends—and says, in case they behave themselves orderly and
rest contented with the liberty of worship given them under said
law, they shall not be prosecuted.

Footnote 125:

In fact, the wife of John Rogers was discharged the day after the
occurrence. She, being a regular Quaker, came under different laws
from the Rogerenes and appears to have been treated with some
leniency. Her coming from the State of New York and from a
prominent Quaker community in that State may have had something to
do with this leniency.

All this on the part of the governor doubtless sounds very plausible
and very indulgent, to the uninitiated. He is evidently very glad of
some excuse to release the prisoners. So much of a hornet’s nest has
been aroused, about this time, that not even the disturbance of the
Congregational meeting, less than two weeks before, is considered
sufficient ground for detaining them longer in prison or imposing
any more serious fine than payment of their prison fees.

By the joint testimony of Peter Pratt and John Rogers, 2d, it is
shown that the governor distinctly stated before the Assembly at
this time that the Rogerenes should be allowed to worship God
according to their consciences, if they would refrain from
disturbing Congregational worship, and that he would punish any who
should disturb their worship.[126] Here is something tangible, as
opposed to the ambiguity of the court record; it not only indicates
that the April countermove was a direct result of interference with
Rogerene meetings, but that said countermove had been productive of
a decisive advantage. In short, interference with their meetings had
caused the countermove, the countermove had forced the governor to
himself promise them immunity from further interference of this
sort, on condition that they would not exercise their reserve power.

Footnote 126:

“And first I grant that the governor did actually make this
promise, viz., that, to persuade us to forbear, if we would be
quiet and worship God in our own way according to our consciences,
he would punish any of their people that should disturb our
worship,—and that it was in a Public Court before a multitude of
hearers.”—_John Rogers, 2d._

We find after intimation by John, 2d, that this promise of the
governor was not kept.


Three years have now passed, with no record of any disturbance of
the Congregational meetings, and of nothing, in fact, to show how
matters are progressing that concern Rogerene history, unless it be
the total lack of court notice. It is at least a season of patient
endurance and forbearance on the part of the Rogerenes, so far as
the ordinary distrainments are concerned. About this time, there is
talk of a proposed rebuilding, or enlargement, of the Congregational
meeting-house, which will occasion a new levy on the Rogerenes, with
the usual wholesale seizure of property. But something more serious
than this now occurs, the exact nature of which is hidden from our
view. The disturbing move is made by the town authorities, under
some one of the Sunday laws, and the victim is Sarah, wife of John
Bolles, her infringement of this Sunday law being “a matter of
conscience” on her part.

It must be borne in mind that under the ecclesiastical laws, to
whose unscriptural character it is the mission of this sect to bear
testimony at all hazards, punishments far beyond the letter of said
laws are frequently being inflicted upon the Rogerenes. The
following from John Bolles throws light upon this subject:—

When a poor man hath had but one milch cow for his family’s
support, it hath been taken away; or when he hath had only a
small beast to kill for his family, it hath been taken from him,
to answer a fine for going to a meeting of his own Society, or
to defray the charges of a cruel whipping for going to such a
meeting, or things of this nature. Yea, twelve or fourteen
pounds worth of estate hath been taken to defray the charges of
one such cruel whipping, without making any return as the law
directs. Yea, fourscore and odd sheep have been taken from a
man, being all his flock; a team taken from the plow, with all
its furniture and led away. But I am not now giving a particular
account, for it would contain a book of a large volume to relate
all that hath been taken from us, and as unreasonable and
boundless as these; besides the cruelties inflicted on our
bodies and many long imprisonments….

Here we see something of those things which never appear upon the
court records and of whose “boundless”ness we only now and then
catch a glimpse, by some side-light like this or by a Rogerene
entrance into the meeting-house, the latter effect always pointing
to some unbearable wrong as its cause. To continue with this
statement of John Bolles:—

“and many long imprisonments, of which I shall mention one woman,
when she was condemned by a judge in a case of conscience; because
she stopped her ears and would not hearken to his sentence, as not
belonging to him to judge in such cases, but with a cheerful
spirit sang praises to God, and then turned to the judge and said
that if he went on persecuting God’s people God’s judgments would
come upon him and his.”

There are among the Rogerenes many sweet singers, who sing hymns and
psalms in certain meetings of their Society. It appears (by aid of
above statement) that Sarah, wife of John Bolles, is one of these;
for, by a Superior Court record of September 22, 1719, it is shown
that Sarah Bolles is summoned from prison before that court

“to answer for reflecting upon the proceedings of a court held in
New London,[127] in saying to one of the judges thereof, viz.:
Rich. Christophers, Esq.: Now look to yourself for God’s judgments
will surely come upon you, for your unjust judgments for
persecuting God’s people—Said Sarah, being asked whether she was
guilty or not guilty of the crime for which she was committed,
refused to make any plea. Whereupon said Sarah Bolles shall suffer
two month’s imprisonment” (in addition to the four already
endured) “and pay the charges of her prosecution and stand
committed till the said charge be paid, viz.: £1 19_s._”

Footnote 127:

About four months before and evidently a town court and the one
referred to by John Bolles.

So this heroic woman, who has ten children at home, five of whom are
under ten years of age, is returned to prison, not only for the two
months, but until she pay the charges of her prosecution, which the
court, as well as her own people, have good reason to believe she
will never pay, thus to encourage the authorities in their
unchristian persecution of the Rogerenes. John Bolles goes on to
say, regarding this woman, whose name he does not reveal:—

Whereupon said judge condemned her to prison, where after further
determination, [viz.: above Superior Court sentence] she was
required to remain till she should pay the charge of her
prosecution, so called, and there continued six months, till God
made way by moving the hearts of the people with compassion for
her deliverence, by seeing her affliction; she being not only
locked up in prison but also a high boarded fence round the
prison, locked also,[128] and the prison keeper living near half a
mile from the prison, it being an extreme cold winter, and in the
height of it she miscarried, being without any help nor could call
for any, her husband living about a mile and a half from the
prison and was not suffered to come to her; as if God suffered
such things to be done to lay conviction before all faces. But
after her release she was carried home on her bed in a cart and
after some time she was, thro’ God’s goodness, restored to health

Footnote 128:

Here is recognizable the “inner prison” described by John Rogers.

About two weeks previous to this appearance of Sarah Bolles before
the Superior Court, there occurred a Rogerene countermove which is
directly traceable to her imprisonment. This countermove took place
September 6, after Sarah had been nearly four months in prison. It
must have been known to the Rogerenes, and to the authorities as
well, that she was with child, which, together with the fact that
the youngest of the ten children needing her at home is but two
years of age,[129] made this long imprisonment in “a matter of
conscience,” with the impending appearance before the Superior Court
on charge of contempt, especially aggravating. The circumstances
called for some imperative action on the part of her friends, the
more so, because no mercy could be expected from the judge of the
Superior Court.

Footnote 129:

This child was Joshua Bolles, grandfather of Mr. John R. Bolles.

The persons accused of entering the meeting-house on this 6th of
September, are John Rogers and his wife, Sarah, wife of John Culver,
John Bolles, John Rogers, Jr., Andrew Davis and Esther Culver. The
records relative to this countermove are in the minutes of the
November session of the County Court in New London. First, that on
September 6, while Mr. Adams was at public prayer, John Rogers, Sr.,
entered the meeting-house and interrupted the service in a loud
voice.[130] (No slightest clew is given to the words spoken.) He
pleads “not guilty” and is fined £20 and charges, £3. The record
states that, upon this (November) trial, he “behaved himself
contemptuously, coming into court in a violent manner and raving
voice, saying, ‘What have you to say to me, etc.’ (would we might
have the words in place of the ‘etc.’) and when the indictment (not
revealed) was read, he cried out That’s a ly, and upon that part of
the indictment (part not revealed) when read he again cried out,
‘That’s a devilish ly,’ and by abusing one of the members of the
court in saying to him, upon said justice’s affirmation, several
times that’s a ly, and for several other abusive demeanors” in the
court-room (unfortunately not described), he is sentenced to pay
20_s._—he who so often for no more contempt than this has been fined
£20. (Moreover, as late as May 25, of the following year, it is on
record that “execution” for this 20_s._ was “returned with nothing
acted upon it.” In this insignificant fine is visible the sympathy
of a jury, and in the lack of “execution” the fact that no collector
is willing to collect this fine, although he may be himself fined
for the omission.) The record continues:—“John Rogers demands a
present appeal to the King’s bench.” “Court consider that no such
appeal lies.”

Footnote 130:

The following is from the “Hempstead Diary:”—“1719, Sept. 6, Sun.
Jno. Rogers and his crew made a disturbance—the midst of prayer
time They came in a horse cart. Committed to prison at night.”

Sarah, wife of John Rogers, is also presented at this November court
for having come into the meeting-house, on the same occasion
(September 6), and “interrupted Mr. Adams by speaking several words
in a loud voice.” The court having considered the evidence in this
case and that said Sarah has “behaved herself competently well
before the court and also pleading ignorance of the laws and methods
of this government, and considering her also under covert and that
she has been committed to prison until this court,” sentence her to
pay a fine of 10_s._ and prison fees, £3. Sarah, wife of John
Culver, for same offense on same occasion, same fine and fee. John
Bolles “for breach of Sabbath” on same day (form of breach not
stated), same fine and charge as the women. Andrew Davis, Esther
Culver and John Rogers, Jr., same charge and fines as John Bolles.

For the two months previous to this November court, John Rogers and
his wife, Sarah Culver, John Bolles and the others have been
confined in prison. All these people know, at the date of this
November court, that Sarah Bolles has not only lost her child, but
is lying at the point of death in the “inner prison.” Well might the
leader of the Society in whose cause she has so suffered and
endured, when he at length escaped from prison and had an
opportunity to speak in public, employ such scathing words as
befitted the occasion.

(From this court scene as described by Peter Pratt,—see Chapter
XIV.,—are derived the statements that John Rogers and his followers
were accustomed to accuse dignitaries of lying.)

After all the verdicts in this case have been rendered, Sarah, wife
of John Culver, knowing so much more of this season of persecution
and the legal (and illegal) proceedings than is possible to
outsiders, indignantly exclaims in court: “You are an adulterous
generation and I hope God will find you out” (by Court Record), for
which the court sentences her to receive fifteen stripes on the
naked body and to pay charges for the same.

Nor is this the end of the matter. Sarah Bolles, despite all
protest, still lies at the point of death in the cold and dismal
“inner prison.” What can yet be done by this non-resistant people?
They may not, by their principles, even waylay the jailer, seize his
keys, hold him for a time in durance, and so rescue Sarah Bolles.
But, upheld by the public sympathy now enlisted, they can head a
resolved company of men and women, break down the gate of the prison
fence, and, aided by the Rogerenes within the jail, force open the
prison doors and bring out the helpless captive. This is exactly
what takes place.

Before this same November court is at an end, complaint is made to
said court by the keeper of the prison, that “John Culver, John
Culver, Jr., Bathsheba, wife of John Rogers, Jr., and Mary Rogers,
daughter of John Rogers, Sr., did, on the 26th and 27th of this
Nov.” (viz., at midnight) “stave down part of the prison yard.” A
significant ending of this record is that for this misdemeanor John
Culver and his son are to pay only 10_s._ and charges, and Bathsheba
and Mary to pay only the charges of their prosecution, also that
John Rogers and the others still in prison are not brought before
this court at all. All this shows the extent of public sympathy at
the time, especially in regard to those concerned in the September

The court record does not inform us that Sarah Bolles was rescued
from the prison by this raid and carried home in a cart; neither
does it inform us that the company headed by the persons tried for
this daring deed contained others besides Rogerenes, whose
approbation was enlisted by the danger of a second murder being
committed in that prison, through cruel neglect. Only by the public
sympathy exhibited on this occasion can the facts be accounted for
that no action is taken by the court regarding the escaped prisoner
and no record of her escape made.

John Rogers had been returned to prison on account of non-payment of
the £23, for disturbance of meeting. John, Jr., John Bolles and the
others were in prison also for non-payment of smaller fines, for the
same offense. Thus the attack from outside the prison lacked the
usual leadership; yet that these prisoners were concerned in the
rescue, from a position within the prison, is shown by a record of
the General Court of November 30, to the effect that, at a special
meeting of the Governor and Council, of that date, “it is ordered
that the fines and penalties incurred by John Rogers etc.” (“etc.”
doubtless including the others tried with John Rogers for the
September countermove) “on account of recent tumultuous and riotous
proceedings of which said prisoners have been guilty, be
applied—upon collection of same—to the extraordinary charge which
they have occasioned the county by said proceedings.” This “charge”
evidently refers to repairs of the prison which was broken into
three days before in behalf of Sarah Bolles. Why the Culvers and
Mary and Bathsheba were brought before the County Court (where they
were so lightly fined) and “John Rogers, Sr. etc.” dealt with by a
special court can only be conjectured. It is not unlikely that this
raid upon the jail resulted also in the rescue of Sarah Culver from
the stripes. The fact that her husband and son acted with the women
indicates such a possibility.

As has been seen, the arrest of Sarah Bolles was for some so-called
“breach of Sabbath.”[131] Certainly she could not have been
ploughing or carting. Had she been spinning at the door of her home,
or had she ventured to walk some distance over the Norwich road to
visit one of her friends? In either case, this would be no more than
she had been doing ever since 1707; yet either of these acts would
have furnished legal ground for her arrest. The only way to account
for the proceedings against her is by supposition of another of the
spasmodic attempts to intimidate and repress Rogerene leadership.
That Sarah Bolles deserves the name of a leader in this Society is

Footnote 131:

See Appendix for “Request of John Rogers from New London Prison,
November 17, 1719,” which seems to be connected with this charge
against Sarah Bolles.

One of the most serious grievances of the Rogerenes, since
they began to hold their services on Sunday, is that, although
the Congregationalists are allowed to go long distances to
Congregational meetings, the Rogerenes are arrested for
travelling any considerable distance to meetings of their own
persuasion. From the fact that they hold their meetings in
private houses, such services are sometimes at one house and
sometimes at another, and, as they are widely scattered
(outside the nucleus at Quaker Hill), some of the members are
always liable to travel some distance.

On Sunday, December 13, two weeks after the November trial just
described, a young Rogerene, by the name of John Waterhouse, has the
audacity to appear at the door of the Congregational meeting-house,
and, “standing within the ground sill, in sermon time,” to exclaim:
“I am come to enter complaint that I am stopped on the King’s
highway.”[132] He has availed himself of the one efficient mode of
defense, the Rogerene countermove.

Footnote 132:

The following, from Reply of John Rogers, 2d, to Justice Backus,
appears to indicate the usual manner of this interference,
although referring, in this particular case, to the church at
Norwich.—“And several times since, when we have passed by their
meeting-house along the road towards our own meeting, their
constable has prest a considerable number of men out of their
meeting house, who with horses have followed hard after us with
ungoverned zeal, and have stopped us and made prisoners of us for
the sake of our religion.”


The proof of this courageous stand of John Waterhouse, while the
leading Rogerenes are in prison, is from records of the County
Court, June, 1720. By these records it is also shown that some three
months after the above offense (and apparently while out on bail,
pending trial in June) this same young man “blew a horn or shell
near the meeting-house, while the congregation were singing,” and,
refusing to give bond for appearance at the County Court in June,
“with good behavior in meantime,” is arrested and imprisoned.

At this same June court, the offender is brought from prison, and
being charged with the first offense, of December 13, refuses to
reply to the question “guilty or not guilty.”[133] The court now
proceeds to give judgment, “on a nihil dicit,” of £20 fine, with
charges of prosecution, and if he do not immediately pay or give
surety he “shall be let out,” until the same is paid. The same
judgment, upon a nihil dicit, is pronounced in regard to the blowing
of the horn, viz.: fine of £20, which if not paid he is to be let
out, etc.

Footnote 133:

It was the Rogerene custom when arraigned for countermove
offenses, either to make no reply to this court query or to reply
“not guilty,” in the sense of having done nothing wrong. We
occasionally find John Bolles replying that he will “be judged by
God and not by man.”

Yet this very act of blowing a horn on Sunday near a meeting-house,
in time of service, is among the offenses enumerated upon the law
book as finable by only 40_s._, which is all the young man had
reason to expect. Here are more than £40 for this young man to pay,
or go to common servitude for a long period.

Nor is this all that is charged against John Waterhouse at this June
court. He is examined on suspicion of being concerned in a most
astonishing performance, in the month previous (May 4), viz.: the
“opening and carrying away of the doors of the prison” to which the
clarion blast had consigned him, and in which he had been confined
something over a month. At date of this June court, said doors have
“not yet been found.” It is also stated that, during this
imprisonment, he had made his escape from the prison several
times—and, of course, he had escaped again at the time of the
opening of the doors. He pleads “not guilty” regarding the doors,
probably, as do other Rogerenes in such cases, admitting no guilt in
doing that which they consider right, however contrary it may be to
the law. Fortunately for the romance, he does not satisfy the court
that he had no hand in said damage and disappearance. The jailer is
to recover from him the value of the prison doors “as they were,
with the locks on them,” which is £5. With charge of prosecution and
another fine of £20 for this offense, added to his previous fines,
more than £70 are required of this young man at this June court. £70
represents a snug little fortune (at this date), enough to buy a
good farm “with mansion house thereon.” This is the more preparing
him for life-long opposition to ecclesiastical government, an
opposition which is to be transmitted undiminished to his
descendants. (For this young man is to be the founder of the
Quakertown community, that “remnant” which, in the words of Rev.
Abel McEwen, “exists in a neighboring town.”)

Since John Waterhouse is to be so potent a factor in Rogerene
history, let us scrutinize him as closely as the scanty glimpses
permit. Is he not some young scapegrace, allied to the Rogerenes for
love of their so venturesome and exciting life? So he might be
judged, but for the preamble of one old deed of gift on the New
London records, despite the fact that he is a son of Jacob
Waterhouse and grandson of Mr. Robert Douglass,[134] two of the most
substantial citizens of New London and members of the Congregational
church. Jacob Waterhouse, in 1717, singled out this son John to
receive, by deed of gift, the family homestead, “my father’s
habitation,[135] near the mill bridge,” as well as a valuable tract
of land at “Foxen’s Hill” on the river; not because he was his
oldest son, but “for love and appreciation of his dutiful behavior.”
It is, then, the dutiful son of a wealthy and honorable citizen of
New London who was arraigned as above at the June court in 1720.
Surely it would not be wise to omit visiting upon this renegade
youth dire punishment for his bold espousal of Rogerene faith and
Rogerene methods, lest other promising young men of the
Congregational fold should dare to venture upon a like career.

Footnote 134:

Jacob Waterhouse married Ann Douglass (daughter of Mr. Robert
Douglass and Mary Hempstead, daughter of Robert Hempstead). John
was their oldest child, born, 1690.

Footnote 135:

Viz., homestead of Jacob Waterhouse, 1st, one of the planters of
New London.

But we are not yet through with this interesting June court. John
Bolles is here arraigned, on a like suspicion of being concerned in
opening and carrying away those prison doors “that have not yet been
found.” For declining, at the time of their disappearance, “to give
any reply to inquiries made of him concerning that matter” he has
been imprisoned until now. He now pleads “not guilty,” which of
itself might mean that he acknowledges no guilt in the matter; but
his wife is present to testify that he was at home upon the night of
this romantic occurrence, also Esther Waterhouse,[136] “who lodged
at John Bolle’s that night,” testifies to the same effect; upon
which John Bolles is to be discharged, on payment of costs of
prosecution and prison fees. One can but marvel that John Bolles did
not in the first place avail himself of this so convenient
testimony, and thus escape imprisonment and expense. Also, why were
not those noted prison breakers, John Rogers, Sr. and Jr.,
arraigned, on suspicion of complicity in this matter? Had they no
hand in this achievement, or were their tracks so well covered that
no slightest clew could be discovered by the authorities? Did John
Bolles, knowing he had evidence to clear himself at sitting of the
June court, allow himself to be imprisoned on this suspicion, in
order to draw attention from the true culprits?

Footnote 136:

Daughter of John Culver and recently married to John Waterhouse.

Sometime in this year is printed, in Boston, “The Book of the
Revelation of Jesus Christ,” by John Rogers, Sr.[137]

Footnote 137:

Here it may be well to refer to the mode of distribution of the
works of this author. He appears to have himself carried many of
them about New England, going long journeys on horseback, the
books in his portmanteau. This not only gave him opportunity to
circulate his writings more extensively, but to discourse with
people at a distance, and also to preach in various places. He
must in such, as well as in other more evident ways, have been
extensively known and famous in his day. This accounts for his
dedication of the above-mentioned volume “To the Flock Scattered
Throughout New England.” John Bolles circulated many of his own
books in like manner.