In this year occurs

Among noticeable young men in the Colony of Connecticut, previous to
1640, is James Rogers.[27] His name first appears on record at New
Haven, but shortly after, in 1637, he is a soldier from Saybrook in
the Pequot war.[28] He is next at Stratford, where he acquires
considerable real estate and marries Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel
Rowland, a landed proprietor of that place, who eventually leaves a
valuable estate to his grandson, Samuel Rogers, and presumably other
property to his daughter, who seems to have been an only child. A
few years later, James Rogers appears at Milford. His wife joins the
Congregational church there in 1645, and he himself joins this
church in 1652.

He has evidently been a baker on a large scale for some time
previous to 1655, at which date complaint is made to the General
Court in regard to a quantity of biscuit furnished by him, which was
exported to Virginia and the Barbadoes, upon which occasion he
states that the flour furnished by the miller for this bread was not
properly ground. The miller substantially admits that he did not at
that time understand the correct manner of grinding.

In the course of ten years, Milford proves too small a port for the
operations of this enterprising and energetic man, whose business
includes supplies to seamen and troops. Governor Winthrop is holding
out inducements for him to settle at New London. In 1656 he is
empowered by the General Court to sell his warehouse at Milford,
with his other property, provided said building be used only as a
warehouse. He now begins to purchase valuable lands and houses at
New London, and so continues for many years, frequently adding some
choice house-lot, Indian clearing, meadowland, pasture or woodland
to his possessions. In 1659 he sells to Francis Hall, an attorney of
Fairfield, “all” his “lands, commons and houses in Stratford,
Milford and New Haven.”—(_History of Stratford._)

At New London, in addition to his large baking business, he has
charge of the town mill, by lease from Governor Winthrop, at the
head of an inlet called Winthrop’s Cove and forming Winthrop’s Neck,
which neck comprises the home lot of the governor. That James Rogers
may build his house near the mill,[29] the Governor conveys to him a
piece of his own land adjoining, upon which Mr. Rogers builds a
stone dwelling. He also builds a stone bakery by the cove and has a
wharf at this point.[30]

—–

Footnote 29:

An ancient mill built in 1728, on or very near the site of the
first mill, is still standing (see “Hempstead Diary,” page 200).
Less than fifty years ago, the cove was a beautiful sheet of water
commencing just in front of the mill, separated from it by little
more than the width of the winding street, and from thence
stretching out in rippling, shining currents to the river. This
cove has been so filled in of recent years that considerable
imagination must be exercised to reproduce the ancient sweep of
clear, blue water known as Winthrop’s Cove.

Footnote 30:

In 1664 he gave his son Samuel land “by the mill” “west side of my
wharf.”

The long Main street of the town takes a sharp turn around the head
of the cove, past the mill and to the house of the Governor, the
latter standing on the east side of the cove, within a stone’s throw
of the mill.

The native forest is all around, broken here and there by a patch of
pasture or planting ground. One of the main roads leading into the
neighboring country runs southerly five miles to the Great Neck, a
large, level tract of land bordering Long Island Sound. Another
principal country road runs northerly from the mill, rises a long
hill, and, after the first two or three miles, is scarcely more than
an Indian trail, extending five miles to Mohegan, the headquarters
of Uncas and his tribe. Upon this road are occasional glimpses,
through the trees, of the “Great River” (later the Thames).

James Rogers is soon not only the principal business man of this
port, but, next to the Governor, the richest man in the colony. His
property in the colony much exceeds that of the Governor. He is
prominent in town and church affairs, he and his wife having joined
the New London church; also frequently an assistant at the Superior
Court and deputy at the General Court. His children are receiving a
superior education for the time, as becomes their father’s means and
station. Life and activity are all about these growing youth, at the
bakery, at the mill, at the wharf. Many are the social comings and
goings, not only to and from the Governor’s house,[31] just beside
them, but to and from their own house. His extensive business
dealings and his attendance at court have brought James Rogers in
contact with intelligent and prosperous men all over the colony,
among whom he is a peer. His education is good, if not superior, for
the time. He numbers among his personal friends some of the
principal planters in this colony and neighboring colonies.

—–

Footnote 31:

Occupied by his son-in-law after Mr. Winthrop’s removal to
Hartford In 1657.

1666.

In 1666 James Rogers retires from active business. His sons Samuel
and Joseph are capable young men past their majority. Samuel is well
fitted to take charge of the bakery. Joseph inclines to the life of
a country gentleman. John, an active youth of eighteen, is the
scholar of the family. He writes his father’s deeds and other
business documents, which indicates some knowledge of the law.
Besides being sons of a rich man, these are exceptionally capable
young men. That there is no stain upon their reputations is
indicated by the favor with which they are regarded by certain
parents of marriageable daughters. In this year occurs the marriage
of Samuel to the daughter of Thomas Stanton, who is a prominent man
in the colony and interpreter between the General Court and the
Indians. The parents of each make a handsome settlement upon the
young people, James Rogers giving his son the stone dwelling-house
and the bakery. This young man has recently sold the farm received
from his grandfather, Samuel Rowland. Having also grants from the
town and lands from his father (to say nothing of gifts from
Owaneco), together with a flourishing business, Samuel Rogers is a
rich man at an early age.

Somewhat before the marriage of Samuel, his father, in anticipation
of this event, established himself upon the Great Neck, on a farm
bought in 1660, of a prominent settler named Obadiah Bruen. This is
one of the old Indian planting grounds so valuable in these forest
days. Yet James Rogers does not reside long on the beautiful bank of
Robin Hood’s Bay (now Jordan Cove), for in this same year his son
Joseph, not yet twenty-one years of age, receives this place, “the
farm where I now dwell” and also “all my other lands on the Great
Neck,” as a gift from his father. All the “other lands” being
valuable, this is a large settlement. (It appears to mark the year
of Joseph’s marriage, although the exact date and also the name of
the bride are unknown. The residence of James Rogers for the next
few years is uncertain; it is not unlikely that he takes up his
abode in one of his houses in town, or possibly at the Mamacock
farm, on the Mohegan road and the “Great River,” which place was
formerly granted by the town to the Rev. Mr. Blinman, and, upon the
latter’s removal from New London, was purchased by Mr. Rogers.)

The next marriage in this family is that of Bathsheba, a beloved
daughter. She marries a young man named Richard Smith. A prominent
feature in the character of this daughter is her fidelity to her
parents and brothers, and especially to her brother John.

1670.

Matthew Griswold is a leading member in the church of Saybrook. He
resides close by the Sound, at Lyme, on a broad sweep of low-lying
meadows called Blackhall, which is but a small portion of his landed
estate. His wife is a daughter of Henry Wolcott, one of the founders
and principal men of Windsor, and a prominent man in the colony.
Matthew Griswold is, like James Rogers, a frequent assistant and
deputy. There are many proofs that he and his wife are persons of
much family pride, and not without good reasons for the same. When,
in 1670, they enter into an agreement with James Rogers for the
marriage of their daughter Elizabeth to his son John, it is
doubtless with the knowledge that this is a very promising young
man, as well as the son of a wealthy and generous father.

How far from the mind of the young lover, when, on the night before
the happy day when he is to call Elizabeth his bride, he pens the
writing[32] which is to give her the Mamacock farm, recently
presented to him by his father, is a thought of anything that can
part them until death itself. To this writing he adds: “I do here
farther engage not to carry her out of the colony of Connecticut.”
This sentence goes to prove the great fondness of the parents for
this daughter, her own loving desire to live always near them, and
the ready compliance of the young lover with their wishes. He
marries her at Blackhall, October 17, and takes her to the beautiful
river farm which upon that day becomes her own. He does not take her
to the farmhouse built by Mr. Blinman, but to a new and commodious
dwelling, close by the Mohegan road, whose front room is 20 by 20,
and whose big fireplaces, in every room, below and above, will rob
the wintry blasts of their terror. The marriage settlement upon the
young couple, by James Rogers and Matthew Griswold, includes
provisions, furniture, horses, sheep, and kine.[33]

—–

Footnote 32:

Still to be seen in “Book of Crimes and Misdemeanors,” in State
Library, Hartford.

Footnote 33:

See same “Book of Crimes and Misdemeanors” for Marriage
Settlement.

1673.

In 1673, James Rogers, Jr., is of age. No large gift of land to this
young man is recorded; for which reason it seems probable that his
principal portion in the lifetime of his father is the good ship of
which he is master. His ability to navigate and command a foreign
bound vessel at such an age is sufficient guarantee of the skill and
enterprise of this youth. In 1674, the young shipmaster has
(according to tradition in that branch of the family—_Caulkins_)
among his passengers to Connecticut a family emigrating from
Ireland, one member of which is an attractive young woman twenty
years of age. Before the vessel touches port, the young captain and
his fair passenger are betrothed, and the marriage takes place soon
after.[34]

—–

Footnote 34:

In after life he was accustomed to say that it was the richest
cargo he ever shipped and the best bargain he ever made.—_History
of New London._

It was a frequent custom in those days, for persons emigrating to
the colonies to pay the expenses of their passage by selling their
services for a term after landing. Such passengers were called
“redemptioners.” Thus, Captain James actually purchased, as the
term was, his wife Mary.

1674.

Although John Rogers resides at Mamacock farm, he is by no means
wholly occupied in the care of that place; a young man of his means
has capable servants. As for years past, he is actively interested
in business, both for his father and himself. At Newport, in the
year 1674, he meets with members of the little Sabbatarian church of
that place, recently started by a few devout and earnest students of
the Bible, who having, some years before, perceived that certain
customs of the Congregational churches have no precedent or
authority in Scripture, resolved to follow these customs no longer,
but to be guided solely by the example and precepts of Christ and
his apostles. In attempting to carry out this resolve, they
renounced and denounced sprinkling and infant baptism and attached
themselves to the First Baptist Church of Newport. About 1665, they
were led, by the teachings of Stephen Mumford, a Sabbatarian from
England, to discern in the first day Sabbath the authority of man
and not of God. Under this persuasion, the little company came out
of the First Baptist Church, of Newport, and formed the Sabbatarian
Church of that place. Mr. Thomas Hiscox is pastor of this little
church, and Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his wife (formerly among the
founders of the First Congregational Church of Springfield, Mass.)
are among its chief members. During this year, under the preaching
and teachings of this church, John Rogers is converted.

Hitherto this young man and his wife Elizabeth have been members of
the regular church, as ordinary membership is accounted, and their
two children have been baptized in that church, at New London. If
children of professed Christians, baptized in childhood, lead an
outwardly moral life, attend the stated worship and otherwise
conform to the various church usages, this is sufficient to
constitute them, as young men and young women, members in good and
regular standing. The daughter of Elder Matthew Griswold has been as
ignorant of the work of regeneration as has been the son of James
Rogers.

The conversion of John Rogers was directly preceded by one of those
sudden and powerful convictions of sin so frequently exemplified in
all ages of the Christian church, and so well agreeing with
Scriptural statements regarding the new birth. Although leading a
prominently active business life, in a seaport town, from early
youth, and thus thrown among all classes of men and subjected to
many temptations, this young man has given no outward sign of any
lack of entire probity. Whatever his lapses from exact virtue, they
have occasioned him no serious thought, until, by the power of this
conversion, he perceives himself a sinner. Under this deep
conviction the memory of a certain youthful error weighs heavily
upon his conscience.

He has at this time one confidant, his loving, sympathetic and
deeply interested young wife, who cordially welcomes the new light
from Newport. In the candid fervor of his soul, he tells her all,
even the worst he knows of himself, and that he feels in his heart
that, by God’s free grace, through the purifying blood of Jesus
Christ, even his greatest sin is washed away and forgiven.

Does this young woman turn, with horror and aversion, from the
portrayal of this young man’s secret sin? By no means.[35] She is
not only filled with sympathy for his deep sorrow and contrition,
but rejoices with him in his change of heart and quickened
conscience. More than this, understanding that even one as pure as
herself may be thus convicted of sin and thus forgiven and reborn,
she joins with him in prayer that such may be her experience also.
They study the New Testament together, and she finds, as he has
said, that there is here no mention of a change from a seventh to
a first day Sabbath, and no apparent warrant for infant baptism,
but the contrary; the command being first to believe and then to
be baptized. Other things they find quite contrary to the
Congregational way. In her ardor, she joins with him to openly
declare these errors in the prevailing belief and customs.

—–

Footnote 35:

The account given by their son of this joint conviction of John
Rogers and his wife furnishes evidence of a considerable period in
which they were in full friendship and accord after the disclosure
made to the wife. For account, see Part I, Chapter III.

Little is the wonder that to Elder Matthew Griswold and his wife the
news that their daughter and her husband are openly condemning the
usages of the powerful church of which they, and all their
relatives, are such prominent members, comes like a thunderbolt.
Their own daughter is condemning even the grand Puritan Sabbath and
proposes to work hereafter upon that sacred day and to worship upon
Saturday. They find that her husband has led Elizabeth into this
madness. They accuse and upbraid him, they reason and plead with
him. But all in vain. He declares to them his full conviction that
this is the call and enlightenment of the Lord himself. Moreover,
was it not the leading resolve of the first Puritans to be guided
and ruled only by the Word of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ? Did
they not warn their followers to maintain a jealous watchfulness
against any belief, decree or form of worship not founded upon the
Scriptures? Did they not urge each to search these Scriptures for
himself? He has searched these Scriptures, and Elizabeth with him,
and they have found a most astonishing difference between the
precepts and example of Christ and the practice and teachings of the
Congregational church.

Elder Matthew Griswold is ready with counter arguments on the
Presbyterian side. But “the main instrument” by which Elizabeth is
restored to her former church allegiance is her mother, the daughter
of Henry Wolcott. This lady is sister of Simon Wolcott, who is
considered one of the handsomest, most accomplished and most
attractive gentlemen of his day. Although she may have similar
charms and be a mother whose judgment a daughter would highly
respect, yet she is evidently one of the last from whom could be
expected any deviation, in belief or practice, from the teachings
and customs of her father’s house. That her daughter has been led to
adopt the notions of these erratic Baptists is, to her mind, a
disgrace unspeakable. She soon succeeds in convincing Elizabeth that
this is no influence of the Holy Spirit, as declared by John Rogers,
but a device of the Evil One himself. Under such powerful counter
representations, on the part of her relatives and acquaintances, as
well as by later consideration of the social disgrace attendant upon
her singular course, Elizabeth is finally led to publicly recant her
recently avowed belief, despite the pleadings of her husband. At the
same time, she passionately beseeches him to recant also, declaring
that unless he will renounce the evil spirit by which he has been
led, she cannot continue to live with him. He, fully persuaded that
he has been influenced by the very Spirit of God, declares that he
cannot disobey the divine voice within his soul.

One sad day, after such a scene as imagination can well picture,
this young wife prepares herself, her little girl of two years and
her baby boy, for the journey to Blackhall, with the friends who
have come to accompany her. Even as she rides away, hope must be
hers that, after the happy home is left desolate, her husband will
yield to her entreaties. Not so with him as he sees depart the light
and joy of Mamacock, aye, Mamacock itself which he has given her. He
drinks the very dregs of this cup without recoil. He parts with wife
and children and lands, for His name’s sake. Well he knows in his
heart, that for him can be no turning. And what can he now expect of
the Griswolds?

Although his own home is deserted and he will no more go cheerily to
Blackhall, there is still a place where dear faces light at his
coming. It is his father’s house. Here are appreciative listeners to
the story of his recent experiences and convictions; father and
mother, brothers and sisters, are for his sake reading the Bible
anew. They find exact Scripture warrant for his sudden, deep
conviction of sin and for his certainty that God has heard his
fervent prayers, forgiven his sins and bestowed upon him a new
heart. They find no Scripture warrant for a Sabbath upon the first
day of the week, nor for baptism of other than believers, nor for a
specially learned and aristocratic ministry. They, moreover, see no
authority for the use of civil power to compel persons to religious
observances, and such as were unknown to the early church, and no
good excuse for the inculcating of doctrines and practices contrary
to the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Shortly, James, the
young shipmaster, has an experience similar to that of his brother,
as has also an Indian by the name of Japhet. This Indian is an
intelligent and esteemed servant in the family of James Rogers, Sr.

At this time, the home of James Rogers is upon the Great Neck. By
some business agreement, his son Joseph resigned to his father, in
1670, the lands upon this Neck which had been given him in 1666. In
this year (1674), his father reconfirms to him the property bought
of Obadiah Bruen, by Robin Hood’s Bay. The younger children,
Jonathan and Elizabeth, are still at home with their parents.
Bathsheba and her family are living near, on the Great Neck, as are
also Captain James and his family.

Although John may still lay some claim to Mamacock farm, while
awaiting legal action on the part of the Griswolds, it can be no
home to him in these days of bitter bereavement. Warm hearts welcome
him to his father’s house, by the wide blue Sound, and here he takes
up his abode. Never a man of his temperament but loved the sea and
the wind, the sun and the storm, the field and the wood. All of
these are here. Here, too, is his “boat,” evidently as much a part
of the man as his horse. No man but has a horse for these primitive
distances, and in this family will be none but the best of steeds
and boats in plenty.

Near the close of this eventful year, Mr. James Rogers sends for Mr.
John Crandall to visit at his house. Mr. Crandall has, for some
time, been elder of the Baptist church at Westerly, an offshoot of
the Baptist church of Newport. He has recently gone over with his
flock to the Sabbatarian church of Newport. If the subject of
possible persecution in Connecticut is brought up, who can better
inspire the new converts with courage for such an ordeal than he who
has been imprisoned and whipped in Boston for daring to avow his
disbelief in infant baptism and his adherence to the primitive mode
by immersion? The conference is so satisfactory, that Mr. Crandall
baptizes John Rogers, his brother James, and the servant
Japhet.—(_Letter of Mr. Hubbard._)

News of the baptism of these young men into the Anabaptist faith by
Mr. Crandall, at their father’s house, increases the comment and
excitement already started in the town. The minister, Mr. Simon
Bradstreet, expresses a hope that the church will “take a course”
with the Rogers family. The Congregational churches at large are
greatly alarmed at this startling innovation in Connecticut. The
tidings travel fast to Blackhall, dispelling any lingering hope that
John Rogers may repent of his erratic course. Immediately after this
occurrence, his wife, by the aid of her friends, takes steps towards
securing a divorce and the guardianship of her children. From her
present standpoint, her feelings and action are simply human, even,
in a sense, womanly. He who is to suffer will be the last to upbraid
her, his blame will be for those who won her from his view to
theirs, from the simple word of Scripture to the iron dictates of
popular ecclesiasticism.

If John Rogers and his friends know anything as yet of the plot on
the part of the Griswolds to make the very depth of his repentance
for an error of his unregenerate youth an instrument for his utter
disgrace and bereavement, their minds are not absorbed at this time
with matters of such worldly moment.

1675.

In March, 1675, James Rogers, Sr., and his family send for Elder
Hiscox, Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his son Clarke, of the Sabbatarian
church of Newport, to visit them. Before the completion of this
visit, Jonathan Rogers (twenty years of age) is baptized. Following
this baptism, John, James, Japhet and Jonathan are received as
members of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, by prayer and laying
on of hands.—(_Letter of Mr. Hubbard._)

This consummation of John’s resolves brings matters to a hasty issue
on the part of the Griswolds, in lines already planned. There is no
law by which a divorce can be granted on account of difference in
religious views. In some way this young man’s character must be
impugned, and so seriously as to afford plausible grounds for
divorcement. How fortunate that, at the time of his conversion, he
made so entire a confidant of his wife. Fortunate, also, that his
confession was a blot that may easily be darkened, with no hindrance
to swearing to the blot. At this time, the young woman’s excited
imagination can easily magnify that which did not appear so serious
in the calm and loving days at Mamacock, even as with tear-wet eyes
he told the sorrowful story of his contrition. Thus are laid before
the judges of the General Court, representations to the effect that
this is no fit man to be the husband of Elizabeth, daughter of
Matthew Griswold. The judges, lawmakers and magistrates of
Connecticut belong to the Congregational order—the only elite and
powerful circle of the time; this, taken in connection with the
unfavorable light in which the Rogerses are now regarded in such
quarters, is greatly to the Griswold advantage.

Yet, despite aversion and alarm on the part of the ruling
dignitaries regarding the new departure and the highly colored
petition that has been presented to the court by the daughter of
Matthew Griswold, there is such evident proof that the petitioner is
indulging an intensity of bitterness bordering upon hatred towards
the man who has refused, even for her sake, to conform to popular
belief and usages, that the judges hesitate to take her testimony,
even under oath. Moreover, the only serious charge in this document
rests solely upon the alleged declaration of John Rogers against
himself, in a private conference with his wife. This charge,
however, being represented in the character of a crime[36] (under
the early laws), is sufficient for his arrest. Very soon after his
reception into the Sabbatarian church, the young man is seized and
sent to Hartford for imprisonment, pending the decision of the grand
jury.

—–

Footnote 36:

There were, on the law books, so-called capital crimes which were
never punished as such. “Man-stealing” was a so-called capital
crime, yet we shall find, further on, that it was punishable by an
ordinary fine. No mention is made on the court records or files of
the crime of which John Rogers was accused by the Griswolds, on
charge of which he was examined at Hartford. No record was made of
this matter, and we have only vague mention on the court files of
the petition of Elizabeth for this divorce by which to even
conjecture the nature of the charge.

Although John Rogers has been a member of the Sabbatarian church but
a few weeks, he is already pastor of a little church on the Great
Neck (under the Newport church) of which his father, mother,
brothers and sisters are devout attendants, together with servants
of the family and neighbors who have become interested in the new
departure. Who will preach to this little congregation, while its
young pastor is in Hartford awaiting the issue of the Griswold
vengeance? Of those who have received baptism, James is upon the
“high seas,” in pursuance of his calling, and Jonathan is but a
youth of twenty. Yet Mr. James Rogers does not permit the Seventh
Day Sabbath of Christ and His disciples to pass unobserved. The
little congregation gather at his house, as usual, and sit in
reverent silence, as in the presence of the Lord.[37] Perchance the
Holy Spirit will inspire some among them to speak or to pray. They
are not thus gathered because this is the Quaker custom, for they
are not Quakers; they are simply following a distinct command of the
Master and awaiting the fulfilment of one of His promises.

—–

Footnote 37:

Here is an apparent variation, at the outset, from the Newport
church.

William Edmundson, the Quaker preacher, driven by a storm into New
London harbor on a Saturday in May, 1675, goes ashore there and
endeavors to gather a meeting, but is prevented by the authorities.
Hearing there are some Baptists five miles from town, who hold their
meetings upon that day, he feels impressed with a desire to visit
them. Meeting with two men of friendly inclinations, who are willing
to accompany him, he goes to the Great Neck and finds there this
little congregation, assembled as described, “with their servants
and negroes,”[38] sitting in silence. At first (according to his
account) they appear disturbed at the arrival of such unexpected
guests; but, upon finding this stranger only a friendly Quaker, they
welcome them cordially.

—–

Footnote 38:

By negroes is meant negro and Indian servants or slaves, of which
there were a number in the Rogers family, the slaves being held
for a term of years.

After sitting with them a short time in silence, the Quaker begins
to question them in regard to their belief and to expound to them
some of the Quaker doctrines. He sees they are desirous of a
knowledge of God and finds them very “ready” in the Scriptures. He
endeavors to convince them that after the coming of Christ a Sabbath
was no longer enjoined, Christ having ended the law and being the
rest of His people; also that the ordinance of water baptism should
long ago have ended, being superseded by the baptism of the Holy
Ghost. Although in no way convinced (as is afterwards fully
demonstrated), they listen courteously to his arguments and to the
prayer that follows. Not only so, but, by his declaration, they are
“very tender and loving.” The next day, this zealous Quaker, having
obtained leave of a man in New London, who is well inclined towards
the Quakers, to hold a meeting at his house, finds among his
audience several of the little congregation on the Great Neck. In
the midst of this meeting, the constable and other officers appear,
and break it up forcibly, with rough handling and abuse, much to the
indignation of those who have been anxious to give Mr. Edmundson a
fair hearing.

The week after his visit to New London, Mr. Edmundson is at an inn
in Hartford, where he improves an opportunity to present certain
Quaker doctrines to some of those stopping there, and judges that he
has offered unanswerable arguments in proof that every man has a
measure of the Spirit of Christ. Suddenly, a young man in the
audience rises and argues so ably upon the other side as to destroy
the effect of Mr. Edmundson’s discourse. This leads the latter to a
private interview with his opponent, whose name he finds to be John
Rogers, and who proves to be “pastor” of the people whose meeting he
had attended at New London, on the Great Neck. He also learns from
this pastor that he was summoned to Hartford, to appear before the
Assembly, for the reason that, since he became a Baptist, the father
of his wife, who is of the ruling church, had been violently set
against him and was endeavoring to secure a divorce for his daughter
on plea of a confession made to her by himself regarding “an ill
fact” in his past life, “before he was her husband and while he was
one of their church,” with which, “under sorrow and trouble of
mind,” he “had acquainted her” and “which she had divulged to her
father.”

Mr. Edmundson informs the young man that he has been with his people
at New London and “found them loving and tender.”—(_Journal of Mr.
Edmundson._)

Since John Rogers remains at the inn for the night, he is evidently
just released from custody. So interwoven were truth and
misrepresentation in this case, that either admission or denial of
the main charge must have been difficult, if not impossible, on the
part of the accused. Moreover, there is for this young man, now and
henceforth, no law, precedent or example, save such as he finds in
the New Testament, through his Lord and Master. That Master, being
asked to declare whether he was or was not the King of the Jews, a
question of many possible phases and requiring such answer as his
judges neither could nor would comprehend, answered only by silence.
Ought this young man to repeat before these judges the exact
statement made to his wife, in the sacred precincts of his own home,
even if they would take the word of a despised Anabaptist like
himself? It is not difficult to see the young man’s position and
respect his entire silence, despite all efforts to make him speak
out in regard to the accusation made by his wife in her
petition.[39]

—–

Footnote 39:

That John Rogers could not be induced to either admit or deny the
charge presented for the purpose of obtaining the divorce, is from
a statement to that effect made by Peter Pratt, in “The Prey Taken
from the Strong.” This is one of the few statements made in that
pamphlet, which seem likely to be true and are not invalidated by
proof to the contrary. It will be seen that, at a later date, this
attitude of complete silence is frequent with the Rogerenes,
before the court.

The case before the grand jury having depended solely upon the word
of a woman resolved upon divorce and seeking ground for it, they
returned that they “find not the bill,” and John Rogers was
discharged from custody. Yet, in view of the representations of
Elizabeth in her petition regarding her unwillingness, for the
alleged reasons, to remain this young man’s wife, backed by powerful
influence in her favor, the court gave her permission to remain with
her children at her father’s for the present, “for comfort and
preservation” until a decision be rendered regarding the divorce, by
the General Court in October. No pains will be spared by the friends
of Elizabeth to secure a favorable decision from this court.

The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, bitter in his prejudice against the young
man by whose influence has occurred such a departure from the
Congregational church as that of James Rogers and his family and
such precedent for the spread of anti-presbyterian views outside of
Rhode Island, writes in his journal at this date: “He is now at
liberty, but I believe he will not escape God’s judgment, though he
has man’s.”

Mr. Bradstreet reveals in his journal knowledge that the charge
advanced against this young man related to a period previous to his
marriage and conversion, and rested upon a confession that he had
made to his wife under conviction of sin and belief in the saving
power of Christ, which cleanses the vilest sinner.[40] Yet knowing
this, he says: “I believe he will not escape God’s judgment.” Truly
New England Puritan theology and the theology of the New Testament
are strangely at variance in these days.

—–

Footnote 40:

May 25, 1675.

“The testimony against him was his own wife—to whom he told it all
with his own mouth, and not in trouble of mind, but in a boasting
manner as of free grace, yt he was pardoned. This was much about
ye time he fell into yt cursed opinion of anabaptism.”—_Journal of
Mr. Bradstreet._ (See “New England Genealogical and Historical
Register,” Vol. 9, p. 47.)

With above compare:—

“After it pleased God, through His rich grace in Christ Jesus, to
take the guilt of my sins from my conscience and to send the
Spirit of His Son into my heart, whereby he did reveal unto me His
love and His acceptance of me in Jesus Christ, this unspeakable
mercy did greatly engage my heart to love God and diligently to
search the Scriptures, that thereby I might know how to serve God
acceptably, for then I soon became a seeker how to worship
God.”—_Epistle of John Rogers to the Seventh Day Baptists._

“And the coming to witness the truth of those Scriptures, by God’s
giving him a new heart and another spirit, and by remitting the
guilt of his sins, did greatly engage him to love God with all his
heart and his neighbor as himself.”—_John Rogers, Jr.—Reply to
Peter Pratt._

Week by week, the little band of Bible students on the Great Neck
are becoming more and more familiar with the contents of the New
Testament. Heretofore they have, like the majority, accepted
religion as it has been prepared for them, as naturally as they
have accepted other customs, fashions and beliefs. Now that they
have begun to search and examine for themselves, it is in no
half-way fashion. Doubtless to a bold, direct, enterprising mode
of thought and action James Rogers owed his worldly success. It is
evident that his children, by inheritance and example, possess
like characteristics. Through the mystic power of conversion they
have come “to see and to know”[41] the truth of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ. They believe that the Scriptures were inspired by
God himself, in the consciousness of holy men, and by His
providence written and preserved for the instruction of succeeding
generations; that, accordingly, what is herein written, by way of
precept or example, is binding upon the regenerate man, and no
command or example of men contrary to this Word should be obeyed,
whatever the worldly menace or action may be.

—–

Footnote 41:

See preamble to will of James Rogers, Part I., Chapter I.

John Rogers has already begun to work on the first day of the week.
Moreover, in order to conform with exactness to the New Testament
command and example relating to preachers of the Gospel, he has
taken up a handicraft, that of shoemaking. At this date, all
handicrafts are held in esteem, some of the most prominent men in a
community having one or more; yet the large dealings of Mr. James
Rogers have called for an active business life on the part of this
son, who appears to have been his “right-hand man.” In taking up
this handicraft, John Rogers appears not to neglect other business
(in 1678 we shall find him fulfilling a contract to build a ship
costing £4,640[42]), but to be busily employed at the bench in what
might otherwise be his leisure hours, and especially upon that day
which has been declared “holy” by man and not by God.

—–

Footnote 42:

See “History of Stratford.”

How closely this movement is watched by the Connecticut authorities
appears by a law enacted in May of this year, in which it is ordered
that no servile work shall be done on the Sabbath, save that of
piety, charity or necessity, upon penalty of 10_s._ fine for each
offense, and “in case the offence be circumstanced with high-handed
presumption as well as profaneness the penalty to be augmented at
the discretion of the judges.” What “high-handed presumption” and
“profaneness” consist of, in this case, will soon be evident.

The hesitation of the New London church in dealing with the Rogerses
can readily be understood. Mr. James Rogers is the principal
taxpayer, his rates for church and ministry are largest of all, to
say nothing of those of his sons. Not only this, but the family has
been one of the most respected in the town. Perchance they may yet
see the error of their ways, especially when they have decisive
proof of what is likely to proceed from the civil arm, if this
foolhardiness is continued.

1676.

Despite the ominous law aimed at themselves and their followers,
James Rogers, his wife and their daughter Bathsheba Smith, are
preparing for a final consecration to the unpopular cause. In
September, 1676, John, Capt. James, Japhet and Jonathan, the four
New London members of the Newport church, visit that church, and on
their return, September 19, bring with them Elder Hiscox and Mr.
Hubbard.—(_Letter of Mr. Hubbard._)

The Great Neck is still in midsummer beauty, with delicate touches
of autumnal brightness, when the hospitable mansion of James Rogers
is reopened to the friends who were here on a like mission in the
chilly days of winter. Grave and earnest must be the discourse of
those gathered on this occasion. That Connecticut is resolved to
withstand any inroad of new sects from Rhode Island, appears
certain. But James Rogers and his sons are men not to be cowed or
driven, especially when they judge their leadership to be from on
High. This little family group is resolving to brave the power and
opprobrium of Connecticut backed by Massachusetts.

If there is a hesitating voice in this assembly, it is probably that
of Samuel Rogers, whose wife’s sister is the wife of Rev. James
Noyes of Stonington, and who is similarly allied to other prominent
members of the Congregational order. Yet his sympathies are with the
cause he hesitates to fully espouse. (We shall find the next meeting
of this kind at his house.) As for Bathsheba, surely nothing but the
waiting for father and mother could so long have kept her from
following the example of her brother John.

In front of the house lies the wide, blue Sound. It is easy to
picture the scene, as the earnest, gray-haired man and his wife and
daughter accompany Elder Hiscox down the white slope of the beach to
the emblem of cleansing that comes to meet them. No event in the
past busy career of James Rogers can have seemed half so momentous
as the present undertaking. There are doubtless here present not a
few spectators, some of them from the church he has renounced, to
whom this baptism is as novel as it is questionable; but they must
confess to its solemnity and a consciousness that the rite in
Christ’s day was of a similar character. Those who came to smile
have surely forgotten that purpose, as the waters close over the man
who has been so honorable and honored a citizen, and who, despite
the ridicule and the censure, has only been seeking to obey the
commands of the Master, and, through much study, pious consideration
and fervent prayer, has decided upon so serious a departure from the
New England practice.

A summons for James Rogers and his wife and daughter to appear
before the magistrate is not long in coming. But they are soon
released. It cannot be an easy, pleasant or popular undertaking to
use violent measures against citizens of such good repute as James
Rogers and his family, whose earnest words in defense of their
course must have more genuine force than any the reverend minister
can bring to bear against it.

There is another Bible precedent wholly at variance with the
Congregational custom that this little church zealously advocates.
The apostles and teachers in the early church exacted no payment for
preaching the gospel, receiving—with the exception of the travelling
ministry—only such assistance as might any needy brother or sister
in the church. This practice was eminently suitable for the
promulgation of a religion that was to be “without money and without
price,” and well calculated to keep out false teachers actuated by
mercenary motives. So great a religion having been instituted, among
antagonistic peoples, by men who gave to that purpose only such time
as they could snatch from constant struggles for a livelihood, and
all its doctrines and code having been fully written out by these
very men, could not the teachers and pastors of successive ages so,
and with such dignity, maintain themselves and their families,
giving undeniable proof that their calling was of God and not of
mammon?

We have seen the young man, John Rogers, preparing himself for such
a life as this. He has laid aside the worldly dignity and ease that
might be his as the son of a rich man, to work at the humble trade
of shoemaking; that he may place himself fully with the common
people and give of the earnings of his own hands to the poor, as did
the brethren of old.

The General Court has heretofore discovered no sufficient reason for
granting the petition of Elizabeth Griswold for a divorce. It is
probable that, up to this date, it has looked for some relenting on
the part of the young nonconformist, rather than movements so
distinctly straightforward in the line of dissent. But now that
James Rogers and family have openly followed his lead to the extent
of engaging in manual labor upon the first day of the week, and
certain others on the Great Neck, who are members of the
Congregational church, are regarding the movement with favor, the
sympathy of this practically ecclesiastical body is fully enlisted
for the Griswolds.

This Court, which, for nearly a year beyond the time appointed for
its decision, has hesitated to grant the divorce to Elizabeth, now,
with no further ground than that first advanced, except this
evidently fixed determination of John Rogers and his relatives to
persist in their nonconformity, “doe find just cause to grant her
desire and doe” (Oct. 12, 1676) “free her from her conjugal bond to
John Rogers.”

Among the documents kept on file relating to trials and decisions,
the petition of Elizabeth does not appear in evidence, that the
public may examine it and discover the nature of the charge put
forward for the divorce. This petition and other evidence are kept
state and family secrets. There is a law by which particulars of any
trial which it is desired to keep secret must not be divulged by
speech or otherwise, under penalty of a heavy fine for each such
offense. Well may John Rogers and his son by Elizabeth Griswold ever
declare that this divorce was desired and obtained for no other
cause than “because John Rogers had renounced his religion.”

At the meeting of the County Court in January of this year, John
Rogers, Capt. James Rogers, Joseph Rogers, Richard Smith (husband of
Bathsheba), and one Joseph Horton are fined 15_s._ each for
non-attendance at church. All except John and Capt. James Rogers
offer excuse for this offense.

1677.

In the following February, James Rogers, Sr., and his wife
Elizabeth, Capt. James and his wife, Joseph and his wife, John,
Bathsheba and Jonathan, are each fined 15_s._ at the County Court
for non-attendance at church.

At the next County Court, in June, besides non-attendance at church,
John Rogers is charged with attending to his work on the first day
of the week, in May last, and with having upon that day brought “a
burthen of shoes into the town.” Upon this occasion, he owns to
these facts in court, and further declares before that assembly that
if his shop had stood under the window of Mr. Wetherell (magistrate)
or next to the meeting-house, he would thus have worked upon the
first day of the week. Capt. James and his brother Jonathan being
arraigned at the same court for non-attendance at church and for
work upon the first day of the week, assert that they have worked
upon that day and will so work for the future. James Rogers, Sr.,
being examined upon a like charge, owns that he has not refrained
from servile work upon the first day of the week “and in particular
his plowing.” “He had,” says the record, “been taken of plowing the
6th day of May,” by which it appears that he has been imprisoned
from that time until this June court, as has John also, since his
apprehension with the load of shoes. To have secured bail they must
have promised “good behavior”—viz. cessation of work on the first
day—until this session of the court, which they could not do, being
resolved upon this same regular course.

Mary, wife of Capt. James Rogers, herself a member of the Newport
church, is presented at the same court for absenting herself for the
last six months from public worship. Bathsheba Smith is presented
for the same, and also for a “lying, scandalous paper against the
church and one of its elders” set up “upon the meeting house.” This
paper was evidently occasioned by the abovementioned imprisonment of
her father and brother on account of their having substituted the
Scriptural Sabbath for that instituted centuries later by
ecclesiastical law.

The court “sees cause to bear witness against such pride,
presumption and horrible profaneness in all the said persons,
appearing to be practiced and resolved in the future,” and order
that “a fine of £5 apiece be taken from each of them and that they
remain in prison at their own charge until they put in sufficient
bond or security to no more violate any of the laws respecting the
due observance of the first day of the week,” or “shall forthwith
upon their releasement depart and remain out of the colony.”
Bathsheba is fined £5 for non-attendance at church and the
“scandalous paper,” and Mary and Elizabeth 10_s._ each for
non-attendance at church.

It is evident that a crisis has now arrived; the sacred Puritan
Sabbath has been ignored in an amazingly bold manner by this little
band of dissenters, who openly declare, in court, their intention of
keeping a seventh day Sabbath, and that alone, whatever be the
menace or the punishment.

In these early days, £5 is so large a sum as to be of the nature of
an extreme penalty. Truly, the “discretion of the judges” is
beginning to work. How James Rogers and his two sons escaped from
prison at all, after this sentence, does not appear; certainly they
did not give any bonds not to repeat their offenses nor any promise
to remove from the colony. Proof of their release is in the fact
that they are all again before the court at its very next meeting,
in September, together with Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph and his wife,
all for non-attendance at church; and upon this occasion, John
declares that he neither does nor will attend the Congregational
church, nor will he refrain from servile work on the first day of
the week, upon which the court repeats the fine of £5 “for what is
past” and recommends to the commissioners that the delinquent be
called to account by a £5 fine “if not once a week yet once a
month.” This, if strictly carried out, means almost constant
imprisonment for John at his own charge, since it is against his
principles to pay any such fines, or to give any of the required
promises. Even could he be at large, £60 a year would seem to be
more than he could earn by shoemaking. (At this period, £60 would
buy a good farm “with mansion house thereon.”)

Besides the arraignment of the Rogers family at the June court, as
previously described, a suit is brought by Matthew Griswold for
damages to the amount of £300. A part of this sum is for the
Mamacock farm, which John Rogers very naturally declined to deliver
up to the marshal on demand of the divorced wife, which refusal is
denominated by Mr. Griswold in this suit a “breach of covenant.”
Another part is for the Griswold share of articles comprised in the
marriage settlement of the fathers upon the couple. In this sum of
£300 is also included a considerable charge for the maintenance of
Elizabeth and her children at her father’s, during the time between
her leaving her husband’s house and the date of the divorcement by
the General Court; also board for her and her first child three
months at her father’s house, during an illness following birth of
said child (see Chapter XIV, “Dragon’s Teeth”).

Thus the divorced husband is asked to deliver up the farm he gave
Elizabeth in full expectation of her remaining his wife, to repay
all that her father gave them during the four years of their happy
married life, to pay her board during a visit to her father’s house
by solicitation of her parents,[43] and also to recompense her
father for the maintenance of herself and children at the same place
after she had deserted her husband and forcibly taken away his
children.

—–

Footnote 43:

An evident attempt is made by the Griswolds, in inserting this
item in the bill for damages, to lay the illness of Elizabeth
following the birth of her child to some failure on the part of
the young husband to suitably provide for her confinement. Her
son, John Rogers, 2d, however, in his “Reply” to his half-brother,
Peter Pratt, mentions a far more serious and lengthy illness that
befell Elizabeth upon the birth of her latter son, during which
illness both she and her husband, Peter Pratt, Sr., had great
misgivings regarding the justice of her divorce from John Rogers.
That the illness in either case was of a constitutional origin is
indicated by the parallel cases.

It is to the credit of this County Court that, although incensed at
the audacity of John Rogers in bringing a load of shoes into town on
the first day of the week, together with his other “offenses,” it
decides this case wholly in favor of the defendant.

An appeal is taken by Mr. Griswold. In the following October his
suit comes before the Superior Court at Hartford. This court
reverses the decision of the County Court as regards the farm, which
is to “stand firm” to Elizabeth “during her natural life.”

At the October session of the General Court, Elizabeth Griswold
petitions that her children may be continued with her and brought up
by her, their father “being so hettridox in his opinions and
practice.”

The court, “having considered the petition, and John Rogers having
in open court declared that he did utterly renounce all the visible
worship of New England and professedly declare against the Christian
Sabbath as a mere invention,” grants her petition “for the present
and during the pleasure of the court.” John Rogers is to pay a
certain amount towards the support of his children at Matthew
Griswold’s, for which the Mamacock farm is to stand as security.[44]

—–

Footnote 44:

Elizabeth afterwards appears to have all the rents towards support
of the children. Later, when the children are grown, she gives up
the farm to John Rogers, for a reasonable consideration, as will
be seen.

The various forms of stringency lately in operation are so little
deterrent to the new movement that on Saturday, Nov. 23, Elder
Hiscox and Mr. Hubbard are again at New London, holding worship with
the Rogerses.[45] The next day, Joseph’s wife, having given a
satisfactory account of her experience, is to be baptized. In this
instance, John Rogers proposes that they perform the baptism openly
in the town. This earnest and zealous young man overcomes the
objections of the saintly but more cautious Mr. Hubbard. Moreover,
his father, mother, Joseph and Bathsheba are on his side, and there
is evident readiness on the part of the person to be baptized. If
they have, at much peril and loss, begun a good work in this region,
by setting aside inventions of men and substituting the teaching and
practice of Christ and his apostles, it is no true following of the
Master to hide their light under a bushel.

—–

Footnote 45:

The facts contained in this chapter, not otherwise indicated, are
from Letters of Mr. Samuel Hubbard.

No mention is made of objection on the part of Elder Hiscox to going
into town on this occasion, and he is found preaching there before
the baptism, out of doors by the mill cove, with an alarming number
of hearers. He is soon arrested and brought before a magistrate and
the minister, Mr. Bradstreet. The latter has “much to say about the
good way their fathers set up in the colony,” upon which Mr. Hubbard
replies that, whereas Mr. Bradstreet is a young man, he himself is
an old planter of Connecticut and well knows that the beginners of
this colony were not for persecution, but that they had liberty at
first to worship according to their consciences, while in later
times he himself has been persecuted, to the extent of being driven
out of this Colony, because he differed from the Congregational
church.

Some impression appears to be made upon the magistrate; since he
asks them if they cannot perform this obnoxious baptism by immersion
elsewhere, to which Mr. Hubbard assents. They are then released and
proceed to the house of Samuel Rogers, by the mill cove.

The time consumed in going from the presence of the magistrate to
the house of his brother is sufficient to fix the resolve of John
Rogers that no man, or men, shall stand between him and a command of
his Master. For more than two years he has been an acknowledged
pastor of the New London Seventh Day Baptist Church, under the
church at Newport. If the older pastor from Newport cannot perform a
scriptural baptism in the name of the Master, for fear of what men
can do, in the way of persecution, then that duty devolves upon
himself. Upon reaching his brother’s house, he offers an earnest
prayer; then, taking his sister by the hand, he leads her down the
green slope before his brother’s door, to the water, and himself
immerses her, in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, in the
glistening water of the cove.

Doubtless the crowd that gathered during Mr. Hiscox’s discourse and
the after-disturbance has not yet dispersed, for the magistrate is
directly informed of what has taken place. Supposing Mr. Hiscox to
be the daring offender, he is straightway apprehended. But John
Rogers appears before the magistrate, to state that he himself is
the author of this terrible act, upon which Mr. Hiscox is released
and the younger pastor is held in custody.

This new action on the part of the fearless and uncompromising
youth, increases the excitement and comment. If the majority of the
townspeople condemn him, there are yet some, even of Mr.
Bradstreet’s congregation, to wonder and admire. James Rogers, Sr.,
and his family undoubtedly rejoice that John is not to be turned
aside by the hesitation of others, or for fear of what men can do to
him. As for Jonathan, who is engaged to Naomi Burdick, granddaughter
of Mr. Hubbard, it is not strange if he has hesitated to approve of
a move made contrary to Mr. Hubbard’s judgment.

It soon further appears that the New London church is not studying
to conform to that at Newport, but to know the very doctrines and
will of Christ himself, as revealed by His own words and acts and by
those of His disciples.

In the course of their study of the New Testament, the Rogerses find
distinct command against long and formal prayers like those of the
prescribed church, so evidently constructed to be heard and
considered of men, and of a length that would probably have appalled
even the Pharisee in the temple.[46]

They also carefully consider the command given by Christ to the
disciples, and to believers in general, in regard to healing the
sick, and the explicit directions given by James, the brother of
Christ in the flesh, to the church at large: “Is any sick among
you,” etc. They see that other directions in this same chapter are
held by the churches as thoroughly binding upon Christians of
to-day; yet here is one, which, although perfectly agreeing with the
teachings and practice of Christ and of the other apostles, is now
commonly ignored. Indeed, should anyone attempt to exactly follow
this direction of James, he would be considered a lunatic or a fool.
Carefully does James Rogers, Sr., consider this matter, with his two
sons, the one his logical young pastor and the other his practical,
level-headed young shipmaster. Turn it as they may, they cannot
escape the conclusion that if any of the New Testament injunctions
are binding upon the church, all of them must be, so far as human
knowledge can determine.

—–

Footnote 46:

Prayers an hour or more in length were common at that time.

Whether Mr. Hiscox or Mr. Hubbard agrees with them in the above
conclusions does not concern these conscientious students of
Scripture. Not so with Jonathan, the young lover. He is ready to
believe that a religion good enough for so conscientious and godly a
man as Mr. Samuel Hubbard is good enough for him. He judges that his
father and brothers are going too far, not only in this, but in
braving constant fines and imprisonments by so openly working upon
the first day of the week.

Evidently, Jonathan cannot remain with the little church of which
John is the pastor. Yet in dropping him, by his own desire, from
their devoted band, they merely leave him in the church of Newport,
of which they themselves are yet members (and will be for years to
come), although they have made their own church a somewhat distinct
and peculiar branch.[47] There is no sign of any break with the
beloved son and brother, in friendliness or affection (now or
afterwards), on account of this difference of opinion.

—–

Footnote 47:

Before long, the Newport church sends Mr. Gibson to live and
preach upon the Great Neck, to such Sabbatarians as hold merely
with the doctrines and customs of that church. Between this pastor
and John Rogers, pastor of the still newer departure, we find no
evidence of collision.

1678.

In March, 1678, Jonathan is married to Naomi; he brings her to the
Great Neck, to a handsome farm by the shore, provided for them by
his father, close bordering the home farms of his father and
brothers.[48] This is an affectionate family group, despite some few
differences in religious belief. It is evident enough to these
logicians that He who commanded men to love even their enemies,
allowed no lack of affection on the part of relatives, for any
cause.

—–

Footnote 48:

This farm is afterwards conveyed to Jonathan, with other valuable
property, by the will of his father.

When the church at Newport learns that the name of Jonathan Rogers
has been erased from the roll of the Connecticut church, because of
his more conservative views, representatives are sent to New London
to inquire into the matter. Here they learn of still another
departure of this church from their own, in that this church have
omitted the custom of oral family worship, because they find no
command for any prayers except those directly inspired by the
occasion and the Spirit, but direct condemnation of all formal
prayer, as tending to lip service rather than heart service, and to
be heard of men rather than of God.

What can the Newport church offer in protest, from scriptural
sources? To excommunicate persons for not following the teaching of
Christ is one thing; to excommunicate them for obeying such teaching
is another. The Newport church takes no action in these matters,
although evidently much perplexed by this conscientiously
independent branch of their denomination.

Accounts of the intolerance towards the Seventh Day sect in
Connecticut having led Peter Chamberlain[49] to write a letter
regarding this matter to Governor Leete of Connecticut, the latter
replies, in a studiously plausible manner, that the “authority” has
shown “all condescension imaginable to us” towards the New London
church (“Rogers and his of New London”), having given them
permission to worship on the seventh day, “provided they would
forbear to offend our conscience.”

—–

Footnote 49:

A prominent Seventh Day Baptist of England.

The letter of Governor Leete contains also the following ingenious
sophistry:—

“We may doubt (if they were governors in our stead) they would
tell us that their consciences would not suffer them to give us so
much liberty; but they would bear witness to the truth and beat
down idolatry as the old kings did in Scripture.”[50]

—–

Footnote 50:

This statement of Governor Leete has been quoted against the
Rogerenes again and again.

This speciously worded sentence is deserving of some reply. Suppose
the little band of Rogerenes to have attained the size and power
necessary for religious legislation, and to be able to do by their
opponents exactly as the latter have done by them. They must exact
of these the keeping of a seventh day Sabbath, demand aid for the
support of seventh day churches, and enact that none shall go to or
from their homes on the seventh day, except between said homes and
seventh day churches. In case any of these laws be broken, or any
dare speak out in first day churches against the tyranny and bigotry
of this seventh day legislation, such shall be fined, imprisoned,
scourged and set in the stocks. Could any person really suppose such
a course possible for these conscientious students of New Testament
teachings, who are not only opposed to any religious legislation,
but long before this date have given marked attention to the gentle,
peaceable doctrines of the Gospel, and listened with respect and
interest to the expositions of the Quakers, one of whom at the start
had found them “tender and loving”. Close upon this date, the
Rogerenes are found openly and zealously advocating the
non-resistant principles of the New Testament.

A fact not revealed by court records (but which must frequently
be taken into account in this history) is detected in this
letter of Governor Leete: “_if they would forbear to offend our
conscience_,” etc., “we would give them no offence in the
seventh day worshipping,” viz.: until such time as the Rogerenes
will forbear to labor upon the first day of the week, they must
expect, not only fines, imprisonment and stocks, but to have
their Saturday meetings broken up, according to the pleasure or
caprice of the authorities.[51] Constant liability to punishment
by the town authorities, for failure to pay fines for holding
their Saturday meetings, is one of the aggravating features of
this warfare. (All the power used by the magistrates “at their
own discretion” was exercised wholly in the dark, so far as any
records are concerned, and the periods of greatest severity in
its exercise can only be discerned by effects which can be
attributed to no other cause.)

—–

Footnote 51:

It will be remembered that the officers were themselves liable to
be fined if they failed to execute the Sunday laws, and that any
religious meetings whatever other than those prescribed by the
standing order were against the law, both those holding and those
attending such meetings being liable to fine or—in case of
non-payment—imprisonment.

Continual breaking up of their meetings, together with fines and
imprisonments for breach of the first day Sabbath—to say nothing of
the license allowed the ever mischievous and merciless mob to aid in
indignities—is at length beginning to tell on this people in a
manner quite opposite to that looked for by their opponents.

In June, 1678, James Rogers, Sr., and his sons, John and James,
enter the New London meeting-house and take their seats in the pews
set off to them, that of James, Sr., being, presumably, the highest
of all, since he is the largest taxpayer in the town. It may be
supposed by some that their spirits are at length subdued by the
three years of incessant persecutions and annoyances. But presently
they rise, one by one, in the midst of the service, and declare
their condemnation of a worship in the name of Christ, which upholds
persecution of those worshipping in the same name, and by the same
book, who, in this name and this book, find no command for a first
day Sabbath. To bring such arguments into the midst of a
Congregational meeting is more effectual than any violence of
constable or mob; yet, so far from being contrary to any command of
the Gospel, it is a direct maintenance of the command there set
forth to testify to the truth, regardless of consequences. At last,
these distressed people have devised a method by which even this
powerful ecclesiastical domination may be held in check.

From the church they are taken to prison, from prison to trial. They
are fined £5 each. Payment of the fine being refused, imprisonment
ensues, at their own expense,[52] for such a period as will as
effectually deplete their purses. Fines and imprisonments are to
them common experiences; but the church party understand that here,
at last, is an effective weapon in the hands of these people, with
blade of no lesser metal than the words of the Master himself.

—–

Footnote 52:

They were forced to pay for bed and board during imprisonment.
Sometimes a prisoner brought a bed of his own.

(For nearly five years after this countermove, no disturbance of
meeting and no serious molestation of the Rogerenes appears on
record. Evidently during that period the commissioners are not
displaying such zeal in breaking up seventh day meetings as was the
case previous to this appearance in the meeting-house.)

1679.

In October, 1679, there appears in the records of the General Court,
an effort on the part of Samuel Rogers to clear a stigma from the
reputation of his wife. She has been charged, by a man who has lost
some money, with having appropriated it, and the County Court, by
weight of circumstantial evidence, decided the case in favor of the
plaintiff. In the case before the General Court, at this date, a man
who has been imprisoned, on charge of being the true culprit, not
being appeared against by Samuel Rogers, is released. (During the
four years following this release, Samuel Rogers is at much expense
in endeavoring to establish his wife’s innocence. In 1683, he
presents such clear proof of the falsity of the charge that the
General Court grants him 300 acres of land, towards compensation for
time and money expended in clearing his wife’s name. In this
instance, Samuel Rogers makes an address to the court, the substance
of which does not appear on record.)

By this time there are a considerable number of Sabbatarians on the
Great Neck, some of whom have come from Rhode Island. Any who object
to the ultra movement of which John Rogers is the exponent, can
attend the meetings of the less radical Mr. Gibson. Both of these
pastors appear, however, to be working largely in unison, and they
are both arraigned before the County Court, in September of this
year, for servile labor on the first day of the week, together with
James Rogers, Sr., and Capt. James. John Rogers is fined 20_s._, and
the others 10_s._ each, and “the authority of the place” is desired
“to call these or any others to account” for future profanation of
the Sabbath, and to punish them according to law. On this occasion,
Mr. Gibson states that he usually works upon the first day of the
week. It is presumable that Jonathan Rogers also works, although not
conspicuously.

This is one of the spasmodic efforts to check this growing community
of nonconformists, by punishment of the bolder offenders, despite
the fact that the child is growing too sturdy and strategic to be
handled with perfect impunity.

In the latter part of this year, Mr. Hubbard, having come to the
Great Neck on a visit (probably to the home of his granddaughter,
Naomi Rogers), finds that Mr. James Rogers has recently been
severely injured, by a loaded cart having passed over his leg, below
the knee, for which injury he has allowed of no physician, “their
judgment being not to use any means.” A cart in these days being of
no delicate mechanism, it is not improbable that a physician would
have advised amputation. Mr. Rogers appears to be well on the way to
recovery at the date of Mr. Hubbard’s visit.

1682.

Save the moderate fine in September, 1679, for a single
non-observance of the first day of the week, which non-observance
has been occurring with every recurring Sunday, no recorded effort
to suppress the sect occurs from the date of the appearance of James
Rogers and his sons in the Congregational meeting-house, 1678, until
late in 1682, when William Gibson, John Rogers, James, Sr., Capt.
James, Joseph, Bathsheba and her husband, Richard Smith, are
presented before the County Court for “prophanation of the Sabbath,”
upon which occasion John Rogers declares that he worked the last
first day, the first day before, and the first day before that, and
so had done for several years. James, Sr., and Capt. James express
themselves to the same effect. Bathsheba and her husband “own” that
this is their practice also, and aver that, “by the help of God,”
they shall so continue.

The court, not only “for the offense” but for the “pride, obstinacy
and resolution” displayed in regard to continuance of the offense,
fines each of the offenders 30_s._ apiece,—except Joseph, whom they
fine 20_s._,—and to continue in prison until they shall give good
security for the payment of these fines. A bond of £20 each is also
required, for their good behavior for the future and abstinence from
all servile work on the first day of the week.

Here is the bringing up of a fast horse with dangerous suddenness.
But for the imprisonment, it is almost certain that the next Sabbath
would see another interruption of the Congregational services. As it
is, Joseph and Captain James break out of the prison, for which the
latter is fined £3 and the former £5. Undoubtedly they are speedily
apprehended and returned to prison. (It is entirely unlikely that
any of the fines are paid or bonds given; so that how these people
finally escape from durance, unless after very long imprisonment,
cannot be conceived.)

1683.

In this year occurs the death of Richard Smith, husband of
Bathsheba. Also the will of James Rogers is written, at his
dictation, by his son John. In this year James Rogers confirms to
his son Joseph all his lands at “Poquoig or Robin Hood’s Bay,”
within certain boundaries of fence, ledge and “dry pond.” This land
appears to be a part of the gift of land returned by Joseph to his
father, in 1670.

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