The Quakers at Meeting

Mr. Hempstead, in his usual brief style of chronicle, gives no
further light upon this matter. By the records of the County Court,
in the following June, it is shown that the Quakers referred to in
the Diary were John Bolles, his wife Sarah and John Waterhouse, and
that the impelling reason for this countermove was because John
Waterhouse had been seized and maltreated for baptizing Joseph
Bolles, eldest son of John and Sarah, now twenty years of age, who,
on entering upon a religious life, had, with the approval of his
father and mother and the rest of the Society to which his whole
family belonged, selected this young leader to baptize him.

Had any Rogerene been selected to perform this baptism other than
the “dutiful” son who had recently left the Congregational church to
join the nonconformists, it is probable there would have been no
such unusual interference; since such baptisms have been constantly
taking place for years, and there is no record of any other
disturbance of this character.

Extensive improvements have now been completed in the Congregational
meeting-house, almost equivalent to a rebuilding of that edifice.
From the Rogerenes has been taken the usual unreasonable amount of
property on this account; in the case of John Rogers, three of his
best fat cattle together with shoes that, sold cheap at an “outcry,”
brought 30_s._ It seems high time, after so many years of exorbitant
tribute to a ministry of which these people have no approbation,
that some more effectual effort should be made than the simple
refusal to pay such taxes, which has practically greatly increased
their loss, by leaving them utterly at the mercy of the collectors.

A plan is now devised to fit this emergency, yet one much less
aggressive than the ordinary countermove and indicative of a spirit
of compromise on the part of the Rogerenes, despite the fact that
one of their recent baptisms has been so seriously interfered with
and their friends concerned therein are to be tried at the next
sitting of the County Court. A representative number of them will
appear at noontime in the meeting-house, which they have been forced
to assist in rebuilding, and endeavor to hold a meeting of their own
between the regular services. Undoubtedly, they expect to be
prevented from entering the church at all; but the appeal for their
rights in the premises will be made none the less evident and
eloquent by such prevention. If they do succeed in entering, the
familiar riot will ensue, occasioned by putting them out in a
violent manner, carrying them to prison, etc. In that case, they
will be fined “for making a riot,” and tried and sentenced for the
same; but their cause will be all the better advertised, at home and
abroad.

_April 23, 1721, Sacrament Day._—John Rogers came into the
meeting-house and preached between meetings, his crew with
him.—_Hempstead Diary._

By this, it is shown that the first attempt at this new style of
countermove was on the above day, and, by the absence of any court
record regarding this occurrence, it further appears that, either
because it was “sacrament day,” or because the governor was out of
town, or from both causes, no resistance was made to this noon entry
or to the preaching by John Rogers that followed, each of the
Rogerenes occupying his or her own seat as set off in the
meeting-house.

Upon the next Sunday, they appear in like manner,[138] just as the
Congregational service is breaking up. As Mr. Adams and the others
come out, they politely state their purpose of holding another
meeting of their own between the Congregational services. No
objection being made, they enter and take their places in the seats
assigned them. The governor is surely at hand on this occasion, and
none can be more expectant of dire consequences to the offenders
than are the heroic band themselves. But even Governor Saltonstall
cannot well proceed without the issue of a warrant, which he must
hasten to procure. In these critical circumstances, the dauntless
leader proceeds to expound certain Scriptures to his little audience
of twelve Rogerenes, with, doubtless, some curious spectators also.

Footnote 138:

“John Rogers and several of his Society (having as good a right to
the New London meeting-house as any in the town) did propose to
hold our meeting there at noon-time, between the meeting of the
other congregation, so as not to disturb them in either of their
meetings. And, accordingly, we met there, and finding their
meeting not ended, we stood without the door until their forenoon
meeting was ended and the people came out, and then John Rogers
told them our design was to make no disturbance, but to hold our
meeting while they were at dinner, and when they were ready for
the afternoon meeting we would desist and go away. Whereupon I
heard no person manifest any dislike of our proceedings.
Whereupon, John Rogers went into the seat which the town officers
seated him in after the meeting house was built” (viz., rebuilt)
“and proceeded to expound a chapter in the Bible. But in the time
of our meeting, the constable was sent with a warrant to break up
our meeting, and was attended with a rude company of men, who
began to haul men and women out of meeting, committing some to
prison, as did Paul in his unconverted state. And when Sarah
Bolles saw the constable and his attendant carrying her husband to
prison by his arms and legs, with his belly downward, in a very
cruel manner, she and Josiah Gates, another of our Society, went
to the Governor minding him of his late promise to defend us in
our meetings from any that should disturb us and desired him that
her husband might not be so abused, but all the relief they had,
Josiah Gates received a box on the ear from the governor’s own
hand, and they were both turned out of doors by the governor, and
the next day the governor sat judge himself of the matter and
bound over J. Rogers to the County Court, charging him with a
riot, though all he did was to expound a chapter as aforesaid, and
all that his people did was to attend to his exposition, in as
quiet a manner as was ever in any meeting in the king’s dominions,
till the constable with his rude attendants made the disturbance.
However, the court fined John Rogers 10 shillings and the charges.
Execution was given out, and the sheriff first took ten sheep and
then a milch cow”—“And I do further add that I know of no
protection that we have met with from the authority, relating to
our worship but what has been of the same nature.”—_Reply of John
Rogers, 2d, to Peter Pratt._

For account of the same by John Rogers, Sr., see Part I., Chapter
V.

A constable soon appears upon the scene, and the excitable and
riotous portion of the church party are now at liberty to make an
uproar and assist in the seizure and abuse. John Bolles is carried
out and to jail by the arms and legs, face downward. His wife Sarah
and one of the Rogerene men, Josiah Gates, hasten to the house of
the governor, near by, where they remind him of his public promise
(Chapter IX.) not to break up their meetings provided they do not
disturb the Congregational church services, and Mrs. Bolles begs
that her husband may not be thus abused.

Considering the towering rage of the governor over this strategic
move on the part of the nonconformists, and the plea of the
petitioners regarding non-disturbance of Congregational services,
the box on the ear which Josiah Gates receives from the hand of the
governor and the summary turning of the two petitioners out of doors
is a natural sequence.

The next day, the governor binds John Rogers and John Bolles over to
the June court.

By the records of the County Court in June, we find John Rogers and
John Bolles called to answer “for unlawful and riotous entrance into
the meeting-house on April 30, with other persons to the number of
twelve.” They plead “not guilty” (viz.: to any riotous entering or
to any guilt in entering). The court finds both guilty; John Bolles
is to pay a fine of £5, and cost of prosecution £3. John Rogers,
having taken the precaution to demand trial by jury, is to pay a
fine of only 10_s._, and cost of prosecution £1 18_s._, which gives
us the popular verdict in the case. Yet for this fine the sheriff
took ten sheep and a milch cow. In this way, the executives got the
better of a sympathetic jury.

At this June court, John Bolles and his wife are arraigned for
having disturbed the congregation “in February last” (upon occasion
of the Congregational interference with the baptism of their son
Joseph by John Waterhouse). The court, “having heard what each has
to offer and the evidence against them, adjudge each to pay a fine
of £20 and costs of prosecution £1.”

As for John Waterhouse, he is first tried for having disturbed the
Congregational meeting (after the church interference with said
baptism, February 26) and is to pay same fine and charges as John
Bolles and wife for this offense. Accordingly the cost of Joseph’s
baptism reaches £65. No wonder that Joseph Bolles is to become a
leader among the Rogerenes and eventually prominent in a great
countermove that is to shake the Congregational church of New
London.

John Waterhouse is also tried for “assuming a pretended
administration of the ordinance of baptism to one Joseph Bolles of
New London” and “that in time thereof he made use of these words: ‘I
baptize thee into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.’” “The matter
of fact against him being fully proven” and “he having been
imprisoned” (apparently until the sitting of this court), he is now
sentenced to be whipped ten stripes on the naked body for having
performed this baptism.

It is well for the Rogerene Society that so courageous and talented
a man as John Waterhouse has given himself to the Christian service
in this contest for religious liberty. The days of their great
leader are now numbered, although he is still, at seventy-three
years of age, in full health and vigor, despite his fifteen years of
imprisonment during the last forty-six years, and many other trials
and sufferings induced by merciless punishments.

Prominent among the noticeable facts in this man’s history is his
faithful Christian ministry, a ministry copied closely from New
Testament precept and example. Here is a pastor who in obedience to
the command to visit the sick has been ever ready to hasten
fearlessly to the bedsides of victims of the most dreaded contagion,
to render aid temporal or spiritual; although not himself an immune,
unless God so decree. He could be called upon in any circumstance of
misfortune, wherever a friend was needed, to serve, to comfort, or
advise. He has assisted the poor from the earnings of his own hands.
He has visited the widows and the fatherless and those in prison. He
has been at all the charges of his own ministry, by the fruits of
his own industry. Since it has been claimed by him and his
followers, on Scriptural authority, that faith and prayer are more
efficacious in the healing of the sick than are the advice and
prescriptions of earthly physicians, how often for this purpose must
his prayers have been required.

A few months later than the events narrated in previous portions of
this chapter, occurs the great smallpox pestilence in Boston. At
this time, John Rogers is having published in that city his book
entitled “A Midnight Cry,” and also his “Answer to R. Wadsworth.” If
he has need to go to Boston, on business connected with these
publications, it is certain, by the character of the man, that he
will not hesitate, but rather hasten, that he may, in the general
panic there, render some assistance. Even if he has no business
occasion for such a visit, it will not matter, provided he judges
the Master’s command to visit the sick calls him to Boston. Since
his conversion in 1674, he has made a practice of visiting those
afflicted with this contagion so shunned by others, yet has never
been attacked by the disease. He believes the promise that God will
preserve His faithful children to the full age of threescore years
and ten unless called to offer up their lives in martyrdom, and that
when, at last, in His good pleasure, He shall call them, it matters
not by what disease or what accident He takes them hence. Surely
death could come in no better way than in some especial obedience to
His command.[139]

Footnote 139:

In the first place, he (J. Backus) asserts that our infallible
spirit deceived us as it did john Rogers, who pretended from the
inspiration that he was proof against all infection of body etc.
Now I am fully persuaded that John Rogers never spake those words,
but that J. Backus is highly guilty of slandering him in his grave
concerning this matter. He also adds that to put the matter upon
trial he daringly ventured into Boston in the time of the small
pox, but received the infection and died of it, with several of
his family.

Now how presumptuous and censorious a judgment it is for him to
assert that his going to Boston was daringly to put the matter
upon trial, when it was well known that it had been his practice
for more than forty years past to visit all sick persons as often
as he had opportunity, and particularly those who had the small
pox; when in the height of their distemper he has sat on their
bedside several hours at a time, discoursing of the things of God;
so that his going to Boston the last time, was no other than his
constant practice had been ever since he made a profession of
religion. Now it is certain that John Rogers in his lifetime, and
all his Society to this day, do firmly believe, from the testimony
of the Scriptures, that God’s protection is with his faithful
children through the course of this life, to continue them to old
age (notwithstanding the calamities that he sends on the earth),
except when He calls them to lay down their lives for his truth by
way of martyrdom, as may be seen abundantly in Scripture, Job 5,
26. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of
corn cometh in his season. Psalm 91, 16, With long life will I
satisfy him etc. Now the age of man is set forth in Scripture to
be seventy years, as is to be seen Psal. 90, 10.

Now although we have the Scripture plentifully to confirm us in
this principle of God’s protecting his faithful children to old
age etc., yet we know it is appointed for all men once to die,
according to what is written Heb. 9, 27, and by what manner of
death it may please God to take them to himself, after he hath
preserved them to old age, he has not revealed, and therefore
neither J. Rogers in his lifetime, nor any of his Society since
his death, has undertaken to decide the matter; judging it to be
one of those secret things which God hath not revealed to us, and
therefore is not our business to meddle with, according to what is
written, Deut. 28, 29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our
God; but those things that are revealed belong unto us &c.

Now let every unprejudiced reader take notice how little cause J.
Backus has to reflect John Roger’s manner of death upon him, who
lived to the age of seventy-three years, and then died in his own
house on his own bed, having his reason continued to the last, and
manifesting his peace with God and perfect assurance of a better
life. He had also a very easy death, without any struggling or
striving as is common to many people.—_Answer of John Rogers, 2d,
to J. Backus._

If after an immunity of more than forty years, not only to himself
but to his household, he takes cheery leave of family and friends,
ere mounting his horse for the long journey, it is no wonder, nor if
they take a like cheerful view of his departure. The Lord may bring
him safely back, as so often before, even though his seventieth year
is past. Yet—it may be that this call of the Master is to prove his
faithfulness unto death.

His horse stands saddled by the roadside, with portmanteau packed
for a brave and kindly stay, God willing, with the suffering and the
forsaken. He is ready even to his jackboots, and his faithful watch
tells him it is time for the start.[140] We look for no tremor here,
even when he speaks the last farewell, but for the cheery word, the
tender glance, the fervent grasp of the hand, the committal to God
of those he holds dearest on earth, the agile spring to the saddle,
and a still erect and manly figure vanishing at the turn of the
road. It is not unlikely that a cavalcade of brethren accompany him
some miles on his way.

Footnote 140:

In Inventory, watch, portmanteau and jackboots, also besides
saddle, etc., a “male pillion,” indicating a frequent companion in
his journeyings.

On and on, from the health-giving breezes of Mamacock, towards the
plague-stricken city. Once there,—would we might follow him in his
ministrations, even to that day when he remounts his horse for the
homeward journey. Has the contagion so abated by the middle of
October that he is no longer needed, or can he indeed be aware that
he himself is attacked by the disease? Would it be possible for a
man, after he had become sensible that the malady was upon him, to
take the journey on horseback from Boston to New London? All that is
known for a certainty is that after he reaches home the disease has
developed. It seems probable that he was permitted to complete his
mission in Boston and to leave there unconscious of the insidious
attack awaiting him. Why was he stricken down at the close of this
faithful effort to obey the command of the Master in the face of
scorn and peril? One important result is to ensue. The unfaltering
trust of the Rogerenes in an all-powerful and all-loving God is to
be shown remaining as firm as though John Rogers had returned to
them unscathed, and this unswerving trust in God’s promises, under
circumstances calculated to shake such a trust to the uttermost, is
to be attested over and over by the records of Connecticut.

Fast and far is spread the alarm that John Rogers, just returned
from his foolhardy visit to Boston, is prostrated at Mamacock with
the dread contagion. There are in the house, including himself,
thirteen persons. Adding the servants who live in separate houses on
the place, it is easy to swell the number to “upwards of twenty.”
The large farm, spreading upon both sides of the road, is itself a
place of isolation. On the east is a broad river, separating it from
the uninhabited Groton bank. On the north is wooded, uninhabited,
Scotch Cap.[141] There is possibly a dwelling within half a mile at
the northwest. A half-mile to the south is the house of John Bolles.
What few other neighbors there may be, are well removed, and there
are dwellings enough on the farm to shelter all not required for
nursing the sick. To what degree the family might take the usual
precautions, if left to themselves, or how efficacious might be
their scriptural methods, can never be known; since the authorities
take the matter in hand at the start.

Footnote 141:

The only house built at Scotch Cap before the present century was
built about 1740, by Capt. Benj. Greene. Until within a few years,
the cellar of that house remained and also the chimney. It was
called “the chimney lot.”

Had this illness occurred in the very heart of a crowded city,
greater alarm or more stringent measures could not have ensued.
There is a special meeting of Governor and Council at New Haven,
October 14, on receipt of the news that John Rogers is ill at
Mamacock with the smallpox, and that “on account of the size of the
family, upwards of twenty persons, and the great danger of many
persons going thither and other managements” (doubtless referring to
scriptural methods of restoration and precaution) “there is great
liability of the spread of the infection in that neighborhood.” It
is enacted that “effectual care be taken to prevent any intercourse
between members of the family and other persons, also that three or
four persons be impressed to care for the sick.”

There are a number of meetings of the Governor and Council over this
matter (for full accounts of which see the published records of the
General Court of Connecticut). Were it not for the court records,
coming generations would be at loss to know whether the members of
the family themselves, also John Bolles, John Waterhouse, John
Culver and their wives, and others of the Rogerenes held firmly to
their principles in this crisis, or whether they stood willingly and
fearfully aloof, not daring to put their faith and theory to so
dangerous and unpopular a test. Fortunately for Rogerene history,
the testimony furnished by records of the special sittings of the
Governor and Council on this occasion, fully establishes not only
the fidelity of the Rogerenes to New Testament teachings, but also
their attachment and loyalty to their leader.

Three days after the official order that every relative and friend
be banished from his bedside, and so with no one near him but the
immunes pressed into the service, John Rogers yields up his life
unto Him whom he has faithfully striven to obey, fearing not what
man or any earthly chance might do to him. Thus dies John, the
beloved and trusted son of James Rogers, and the last of that
family.

John Rogers departed this life October 17th, the anniversary day of
his marriage to Elizabeth Griswold. She cannot fail to note that
fact, when the news reaches her. She is less than woman if, in the
hour of that discovery, she does not go aside to weep.

The day after this death, at another special meeting of Governor and
Council, it is enacted that “constant watch be kept about the house,
to seize and imprison all persons who may attempt to hold any
intercourse with the quarantined family.” Little do those who have
been forced to take charge at Mamacock and to punish all friendly
“intruders about the premises” appreciate the deep sorrow and
sympathy of these long-time neighbors and friends, who desire to
hear the particulars, to show respect for the departed and to render
aid to the family. Rudely rebuked, no doubt, are the most reasonable
efforts on the part of these friends, to prove their love and
fellowship in grief, although as yet no one else has the contagion
and all thoughts are centred on this one great bereavement.

When shortly Bathsheba, wife of John Rogers (now 2d) and their
eldest son, John, are stricken, the dark shadows deepen over
Mamacock, and friends of the family would fain show some sign of
fearless fidelity, not only to those afflicted, but to the teachings
of the New Testament and the Old, in regard to the power and good
will of God to hold even the direst pestilence in His hand. Much of
the endeavor on the part of these friends appears to be to provide
the family with such necessaries for their comfort as have not yet
been supplied by the authorities.

John Waterhouse and John Culver come over from Groton to secure news
regarding the sick and bring something likely to be needed in the
quarantine. The slightest attempt at such friendly aid excites
indignation and terror on the part of the authorities.

At one of the special meetings of Governor and Council (October 31)

“action is taken regarding the fact that several of the followers
of John Rogers have, contrary to express orders to the contrary,
presumed to go into the company of some that live in the Rogers
house, and further express orders are issued to these obdurate
persons, particularly John Culver and wife, John Waterhouse and
wife of Groton, Josiah Gates and wife of Colchester and John
Bolles and wife.”

That friends of the family have endeavored to supply them with
necessaries, on account of very tardy red tape regarding such
provision by the authorities, is strongly suggested by an order
accompanying the above, commencing: “Whereas it appears that a
meeting of the selectmen is necessary in order to their taking care
of the sick family,” it is hereby ordered “that notice shall be
given the selectmen to meet and consider what is fit to be done for
such as are confined in said families.” Yet it is not until the next
special meeting, over three weeks later (November 24), that it is
ordered that two suitable persons shall be constantly in attendance
“to lodge at the house of Jonas Hamilton or John Bolles” and “by
relieving each other, watch and ward night and day to understand the
state of the sick there and give information of what is needed.”
After this order, although other meetings are held by the Governor
and Council on the same account, there is no mention of any further
endeavors on the part of friends of the family to hold communication
with them.

Two more of the family die of the disease, Bathsheba, wife of John
Rogers, 2d, and John, their son. When all is over, John Rogers, 2d,
is called upon to pay the expenses of official nurses, guards,
provisions and medicines, a large bill, on which he is allowed no
reduction.

John Rogers having died intestate, his son John is appointed
administrator. The only heirs allowed by the court are the widow,
John Rogers, 2d, and Elizabeth Prentice, “only son” and “only
daughter,” among whom the estate is divided by due course of law.
When this form is ended, John Rogers, 2d, ignoring the fact that he,
as only son under the law, has “a double portion,” and Gershom and
Mary, the two children by Mary, are awarded nothing of this estate,
pays to each of these a liberal sum out of his own portion for
“share in” their “father’s estate” (as is still to be seen on the
town records). Well may Mary, if living, forgive this honorable man
for some things that displeased her in the past. He claims her
children as his father’s before the world; he claims them as brother
and sister of his own. He afterwards buys of them land at Mamacock,
which was given them by their father, Gershom’s land “having a house
thereon.”

To the ecclesiastic view, John Rogers has fallen, as to that view he
has lived, a fanatic, striving for such an impracticable end as to
resurrect the first Christian era into the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. But the friends and followers of this leader
are sure that a Christian hero has passed from their midst, in no
ignoble way.

Here was a man who, had he chosen to fight worldly battles, in forum
or in field, might well have made a mark that all men had
acknowledged; but who, for the truth that is in the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, elected to lead through life a forlorn hope, humanly
speaking, as of one against a thousand or a score against a host. It
matters not that he but voiced the sentiments of a large number of
his own day (and a multitude of ours); it is a silent minority, that
dare not even to applaud a man who speaks their views, while the
popular leadership and power are on the other side.

Mamacock farm has been much enlarged since, by that name; it was the
old Blinman farm, and as such given to Elizabeth Griswold; it has
taken in lands to the north, south and west (across the Norwich
road). In a southeast corner of its present (1721) boundaries, close
by the river bank, are three graves that mark the earthly loss to
family and friends of that fearless visit to Boston. The sentiments
of the Rogerenes who view those mounds are: “The Lord hath given and
the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” They
gather closer to fill this great vacancy in their ranks and press on
under the same banner. If John Rogers, 2d, be not the next
leader-in-chief (as perchance he is) that banner will never falter
in his hands. John Waterhouse, as a preacher of rare eloquence and
power, wears the mantle well. John Bolles is in the prime of life,
being but forty-four years of age at the time of the death of his
chief. He will labor in this cause for many a year to come, with
ready voice and pen. Under his training and that of his wife Sarah,
a bevy of bright and energetic boys are growing up strong in the
faith, to join hands with the sons of John Rogers, 2d. Young Joseph
Bolles is soon to come to the front. Shortly another elder and
preacher rises, in the person of Andrew Davis. Here are enough to
hold the present band together and labor for its enlargement. The
authorities cannot take much encouragement, after the fall of the
great leader. He has builded for time to come.

In 1722 is passed an act directing dissenters to qualify under the
law of 1708, and such persons as neglect the public worship of God
in some lawful congregation, and form themselves into separate
companies in private houses, are to forfeit the sum of 40_s._ A fine
of £10 and a whipping to any person not a minister who shall dare to
administer the sacraments.

However this may be aimed at the Rogerenes, it evidently does not
reach them. If the authorities should endeavor to strictly enforce
this law in New London, there would undoubtedly be court records in
plenty regarding countermoves, and an overflowing prison, as will be
seen during a later attempt (1764-6) to enforce arbitrary laws of
this kind. For more than forty years previous to 1722 the Rogerenes
have ignored similar laws, and will continue the same course to the
end.

For some years after the death of John Rogers, no serious
interference with the customs of the Rogerenes is recorded. The
countermoves directly preceding that death should, by all
precedents, be sufficient to secure them from molestation for a
considerable time to come.

September, 1724, occurs the sudden death of Governor Saltonstall, by
apoplexy. His family continue to reside in New London and to form an
important part of the leading membership of the Congregational
church.

Under the ministry of Mr. Saltonstall the half-way covenant was in
full force,[142] and under his administration as governor this
policy was applied to the colony at large.

Footnote 142:

“Although the practice of it” (half-way covenant) “did not begin
here” (New London) “until Mr. Saltonstall’s pastorate, yet it was
in the air, was practiced by most of the leading churches in the
Colony. But when the pastorate of Mr. Saltonstall began, we find
that the new way had gained a foothold. It was known as the
Presbyterian way. It was the system of all national churches, …
all persons of good moral character living within the parochial
bounds were to have, as in England and Scotland, the privilege of
baptism for their children and access to the Lord’s table. (Ecc.
His. of Conn., pp. 28, 29.) It is to be understood that this
refers to persons who laid no claims to regenerate character.
There was no awakening in this church” (New London Congregational)
“nor indeed in N. Eng. worth mentioning before 1748—effect on this
church may be seen in the fact that during the first half century
of its existence not over 200 members were received and a full
century of its life passed without a religious awakening.”—_From
History of First Congregational Church of New London, by Rev. Mr.
Blake._

For forty years after the death of Governor Saltonstall, nothing
regarding the Rogerenes appears on the records of either of the
three courts. Yet there is abundant evidence that these people are
steadfastly continuing in the faith and practices of their sect,
holding their own meetings, in New London, Groton and elsewhere,
preaching their purely scriptural doctrines, and publishing books in
defense of their principles. Although not presented before the
County Court in this period, they are (as shown by the writings of
John Rogers, 2d, and John Bolles) frequently disturbed by the town
magistrates, who deal with them “at their own discretion.” That
entrance into the meeting-house was a last resort is shown by its
extreme infrequency as compared with the more or less constant and
severe aggravations to which they are subjected. The only evidence
of virulent measures in this period is the pitiless scourging
inflicted by Norwich authorities (1725) upon the Sunday party on
their way to Lebanon. (See Part I., Chapter I.) The officers and
others concerned in this proceeding appear to have been members of
the Norwich church, from which, as has been seen, were wont to issue
pursuers of the Rogerenes.[143]

Footnote 143:

This may account for the traditions credited by Miss Caulkins of
some sort of entrance into that church. (“History of Norwich.”) It
is possible that attacks from this church were only to be held in
check by some significant warning; but that there was any
disturbance of meeting seems disproven by absence of any court
record to that effect. The law regarding disturbance of meeting is
very explicit, calling for presentation before the County Court.

If any person shall come to any church or congregation, either
established or allowed by the laws of this colony, and disquiet
and disturb the same, such person or persons upon proof thereof
before any assistant or justice of the peace, by two sufficient
witnesses, shall be bound in £50 for appearance at next County
Court, and in default of same to be committed to prison to remain
until sitting of said court, and upon conviction of said offence
shall suffer the penalty of £20.

The following from the “Hempstead Diary” shows an imprisonment of
one or more Rogerenes at this period, and, in consequence, a
Rogerene attendance in Congregational church. The speaking appears
to have been so timid as not to disturb the services.

1725. _Sunday, Oct. 31._—Walter and John Waterus spake aloud att
ye Same Instant and said you Blaspheme the name of Christ or to
that effect. Jno. Rogers and Bolles and his wife sd Nothing till
meeting was over and yn complained much of the french barber
striking over one of their crew at the prison and brot the stick
wch he sd he Struck him with.

The offenses for which the Rogerenes are most liable to magisterial
punishment at this time appear to be travelling upon Sunday, when
they have occasion to attend a distant meeting, and performing
sufficient observable labor upon that day to assure their opponents
that they continue to deny its sanctity; although they take a
suitable portion of it for religious services. From them are
regularly collected fines for not training. These fines being
demanded by Cæsar (the purely civil government) are probably paid
without protest.[144] The church rates they never pay, no matter how
many fold more than the amount due is collected by execution on
their property, and still, as heretofore, they never appeal to the
court on account of the surplus retained.

Footnote 144:

No proof of refusal to pay these fines appears until a much later
date.

A considerable number of Rogerenes are located in the northeastern
part of Groton, among whom John Waterhouse and John Culver are
leaders. This is a sparsely populated district, where the
nonconformists are less exposed to such molestation and extortions
as assail those of New London. These Groton Rogerenes have Baptists
for their nearest neighbors, a sect agreeing with them in certain
particulars, but equally with the ruling order holding to the
observance of a “holy Sabbath.” It is certain that the Groton
Rogerenes have, sooner or later, some grievance against these
Baptists, evidently in connection with the question of Sunday
sanctity.

In 1728, John Bolles issues his “Application to the General Court of
Connecticut,” “in all the honor and submissive obedience that God
requires me to show to you,”—in which he states that he discovers in
the “Confession of Faith” which this court has established,
“principles that seem not to be proven by the Scriptures there
quoted,” and that he has drawn up some objections thereto which he
desires to be considered and “reply to be returned,” also that he
has “taken a journey for no other end but to deliver these
objections to one of the elders in each county in the colony.” As he
afterwards expresses it, “they disregarded my request.” In this
pamphlet he mentions various instances of cruel persecution to which
he and his friends have been subjected, and ends with these words:—

But we, on our parts, have had the witness of a good conscience
towards God in all our sufferings and loss of all these things,
and do make it our care to live inoffensively towards all men,
except in the case of Daniel, Chap. 6, Verse 5.[145] And whether
this be not oppressing and afflicting them that have no power to
help themselves for conscience’s sake,[146] let God be judge. Pray
peruse what is above written, and let it have a due sense upon
your minds; and so act and do in all the particulars above
mentioned, as you may have confidence and boldness to hold up your
heads before the great and terrible and righteous judge of all the
earth, when He shall come with his mighty angels in flaming fire,
taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel
of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Footnote 145:

Then said these men; We shall not find any occasion against this
Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his
God.—_Daniel 6, 5._

Footnote 146:

Viz.: by their principles of non-resistance.

That the religious standard of some of the principal members of the
Congregational church has not advanced since the time of Governor
Saltonstall is indicated by the following, from the “Hempstead
Diary”:—

1734. _Sunday, Sept. 29._ The late Gov. Saltonstall’s Pew stove
down the Door and 2 Pannels, it seems to be the effects of a
Contention between the two Brothers wives which of ye females
shall have the upper hand.[147]

Footnote 147:

This refers to the pew built for the Governor near the pulpit.
Miss Caulkins (“History New London”) mentions a similar contention
between prominent members of this church, under a somewhat earlier
date, in which the case was carried to court for final decision.

Two of the three sons of Governor Saltonstall, Nathaniel and
Gurdon, remained in New London. Rosewell, the eldest, settled in
Blanford and died in 1738. Of him Mr. Hempstead says in his
Diary:—“he was an Incomparable, well Disposed Gentleman, a good
Christian exaplary in his Living orderly and good in every
Relation.

Gurdon, 2d, was a leading man in New London and held numerous
important offices. Mr. Hempstead calls him “Col. Saltonstall” as
early as 1740. He lived in the Saltonstall homestead and
marshalled his fourteen children in the family procession for
church every Sunday, after the example of his father, the
governor. (“History of New London.”) His eldest child, Gurdon, 3d,
was born in 1734, and his second, Dudley, in 1736.

It is not surprising that an aristocracy so autocratic as to contend
with near relatives for supremacy of this kind should be bitterly
antagonistic to the Rogerenes, who not only shun worldly position
for themselves but refuse to be subject to its rule in all matters
pertaining to the Christian religion. Youth of the Congregational
church, who are to grow up under influences of the above
description, are destined, thirty years from this date, to be church
members themselves and to take part with their elders, as advocates
of a “holy Sabbath,” in a movement against the Rogerenes which is to
result in the great countermove of 1764-66, and the retaliatory
measures adopted in that contest.

We find in the “Hempstead Diary”:—“July 17, 1743, Hannah Plumb,[148]
a young woman, was baptized in ye river at ye town beach by Samuel
son of John Rogers.” This not only shows Samuel Rogers (son of John,
2d) to be a leading Rogerene, but is one of the proofs that some of
the Plumb family, the elder members of which are prominent in the
town and Congregational church, are of Rogerene persuasion; also
that the Rogerenes have got beyond the Mill Cove for baptisms.

Footnote 148:

It is shown by Hempstead’s Diary that Hannah Plumb was daughter of
John Plumb and baptized, as an infant, in the Congregational
church, December, 1723, also that her father was a nephew of Mr.
Hempstead, and her mother a daughter of Mr. Peter Harris. A son of
her uncle, Peter Plumb, married a granddaughter of John Bolles.

About 1735, John Culver and wife, with their sons and families,
together with other Rogerenes of Groton, emigrated to New Jersey,
where they founded a Rogerene settlement. (The cause of this removal
is unknown. The theory that it was to escape persecution is
weakened, not only by proof that the Culvers had proven themselves
of heroic mould in this struggle, but by the fact that there was a
cessation of virulent persecution at this time.) In the course of a
few years, they are found, with quite a following, at Waretown[149]
(in the southern part of what is now Ocean County), holding their
meetings in a schoolhouse. A man by the name of Weair, the founder
of Waretown, is one of their Society; an enterprising business man,
who is described as a most worthy Christian.[150]

Footnote 149:

They first settled in Morris County, N.J.—Schooley’s Mountain—but
soon moved south to above location. About eleven years later, they
seem to have returned to Schooley’s Mountain. In the latter part
of the eighteenth century, many of these New Jersey Rogerenes are
said to have removed to the “red stone country,” supposed to be
Virginia. Most of them had names indicative of Groton origin, as
Waterhouse, Mann, Lamb, etc., showing that other Groton people
either accompanied the Culvers to New Jersey or joined them there.
It would be interesting to know more of the New Jersey Rogerenes
than has been discovered. Very naturally, various fabrications
regarding the New London Rogerenes have become attached to them
also, simply because they were of the same sect.

Footnote 150:

Upon his gravestone is inscribed:—“In memory of Abraham Weair.
Died March 24, 1768, aged 85 years. Whose innocent life adorned
true light.”

The location of this little Rogerene community is about one hundred
and forty miles from Ephrata, Pa., where is a Society of Dunkers,
among whom are certain brethren who dwell apart from the secular
portion of the community, in a cloister. This Society observe the
seventh day as a Sabbath, and hold closely to New Testament teaching
and example, not discarding healing by faith and prayer and the
anointing with oil. The brethren of the cloister appear to believe
in direct enlightenment being accorded to such as lead devout lives.
They have acquired the name and fame of “holy men.” John Culver has
visited these brethren of the cloister, and a mutual friendship and
interest have resulted.

In 1744, a number of these Ephrata brethren, being on a pilgrimage
in the vicinity of the New Jersey Rogerenes, pay them a visit. The
reputation of these “holy men,” in regard to healing by prayer, and
also the fidelity of the Rogerenes to this scriptural mode, is shown
by the fact, recorded by the Pilgrims, that the New Jersey Rogerenes
brought their sick to them, in the hope that they might be restored
to health.[151]

Footnote 151:

The following brief but explicit counsel to his followers by John
Rogers, Sr., contained in one of his books, under the heading here
given, is all that has been found in Rogerene writings regarding
the doctrine of divine healing:—

CONCERNING GOD’S MINISTRATION BY SICKNESS.

In Time of Sickness, Ake or Pain, we are to examine our own
Hearts, to see and find out the cause of God’s Chastisement, and
to look up to Him who wounds, and whose Hands alone make whole,
who is the same Yesterday, Today and forever; and to attend the
Apostle Jame’s Direction. James 5, 13 etc. If any Man among you be
afflicted, let him pray; is any merry, let him sing Psalms; is any
sick among you, let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let
them pray over him, anointing him with Oyl in the Name of the
Lord; and the Prayer of Faith shall save the sick, and the Lord
shall raise him up; and if he have committed Sins, they shall be
forgiven him. Confess your Faults one to another, and pray one for
another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a
Righteous Man availeth much.—J. R.

The Culvers urge the Pilgrims to visit the Rogerenes of New London,
and with such effect that the brethren embark for Connecticut. They
land at Blackpoint, where they are received by a Rogerene of that
vicinity, who later escorts them to Bolles Hill, where they make
their headquarters at the house of John Bolles. They speak, in their
journal, of the Rogerenes as leading “a quiet life apart,” in the
country, and state that they had with them a “most peaceful visit.”
From the country they are escorted into the town, where they are
entertained at the house of Ebenezer Bolles (son of John), whom they
describe in their journal as “a blessed virtuous man.” They advise
him not to marry, not knowing that he is engaged to Mary, the
seventeen-year-old daughter of John Rogers, 2d, and has made his
house ready for the bride who is very shortly to occupy it.

Notwithstanding the fact that the town, by description of the
tourists, is in a state of agitation and excitement, on account of
rumors of war with Spain and the religious differences and public
disputes occasioned by the presence and preaching of the New Light
evangelists, the citizens vie with the Rogerenes in kindly and
interested attentions to the strangers, who speak highly of the
hospitality of the people and describe New London as “a fruitful
garden of God.” When the day for their departure arrives, the
Rogerenes provide passage for them to New York, to which “gifts” of
some kind are added, by reason of which the Pilgrims state that they
took away with them more than they brought. There is mention of
these strangers in the “Hempstead Diary,” under date of October 10,
1744, where they are described as men with beards eight or nine
inches long, without hats and dressed in white. By their own
description, a crowd followed them in New London wherever they went.

No mention is made by the Pilgrims of any unpleasantness between the
Rogerenes and their neighbors, unless the “quiet life apart” of the
former can be thus construed. That the Rogerenes sympathize with the
New Lights to a considerable degree is more than probable; yet they
seem to go their own way, undisturbed and unexcited by the
surrounding ferment.[152]

Footnote 152:

The “History of the German Sectaries” (Philadelphia, 1899) by
Julius F. Sachse, gives an account of this New London visit
derived from the Journal of the Pilgrims. By that history, it will
be seen that these Ephrata brethren were men of learning, and had
at the Cloister a printing-press, from which issued numerous
publications, in both German and English type. Products of this
press are among the rarest specimens of Americana.

New ecclesiastical laws have recently been enacted, largely on
account of the advent of the New Lights, and old laws are to be more
strictly enforced. The rulers are tightening the reins, and the
Rogerenes with other nonconformists are likely to receive a cut of
the lash. In 1745, Joshua Hempstead writes in his Diary:—

_Sunday, June 16._—John Rogers and Bolles and Waterus and Adrw
Daviss and about 20 more of their Gang, came Down into Town with a
cart and oxen and were taken up by the officers and Committed to
Prison, also 4 Women of their Company Came to ye Meetinghouse and
began to preach and were taken away to Prison also.

No clew is given to the cause of this move. A phalanx of Rogerenes
passing, on Sunday, slowly along the principal street of the town in
a cart drawn by oxen, each one of these non-combatants calmly and
cheerfully prepared to pay for their spectacular move by seizure,
imprisonment and fines, is fully as comical as it is tragic. Though
some of the spectators are in a rage, others must be overcome with
laughter, while sympathizers too politic to laugh outright smile in
their sleeves. The after-appearance, at or in the neighborhood of
the meeting-house, of four Rogerene women, fluent in Gospel
“testimony” regarding the unchristian proceedings of the
“authority,” is a fitting climax to this non-resistant menace.

No wonder that for nine years to come the entries in the “Hempstead
Diary” will contain no hint of any collision with the Rogerenes.

The generally tolerant spirit towards the Rogerenes during the last
twenty years is largely to be attributed to the conciliatory
character of the Rev. Mr. Adams, who, although he may not have felt
himself in a position to oppose the autocratic policy of Governor
Saltonstall, appears never to have instigated any attack upon the
nonconformists or taken an observable part in any such move. Nor, on
the other hand, do we find indication of any hard feeling towards
this minister on the part of the Rogerenes.

Who, it may be asked, are the Rogerenes of this period? Foremost
among the leaders on the New London side are John Rogers, 2d, and
John Bolles. There is a considerable following of families and
individuals in the town and vicinity, in no way allied to these by
relationship. The region about Mamacock and districts farther north
have, within the century, become largely occupied by families from
Rhode Island, who, being of Quaker and Baptist sympathies, are well
fitted for affiliation with the Rogerenes. It is not unlikely that
many of them have been attracted hither by that sect. Among these
are descendants of some who, having been persecuted by the ruling
church of Massachusetts, had retreated to Rhode Island for security.
Such would be nothing loath to aid in the bold stand so well
instituted in Connecticut. There are Rogerenes in Groton, Montville,
Colchester, Lebanon and Saybrook.[153] How many more converts are at
this date “scattered throughout New England” none could tell so well
as John Bolles, who has travelled extensively over the country
selling Rogerene books and expounding Rogerene doctrines. But the
solid nucleus of this Society is in the neighborhood of Mamacock and
just north of there, where the John Rogers and John Bolles families
and their neighboring followers are as a phalanx. They are, in the
main, a people of broad acres and ample means, industrious and
energetic; their young women are sought in marriage by promising
youth of other denominations, and their young men, evidently with
full parental consent, improve opportunities to take wives from some
of the best families in New London of wholly different persuasions
from their own. James, son of John Rogers, 2d, a young Rogerene of
great business ability, marries a daughter of Mr. Joseph Harris, and
permits his wife to have her child baptized in the Congregational
church,[154] of which she is a member. Evidently, the New London
Rogerenes agree with St. Paul in this regard. 1 Cor. vii, 14. About
1740, Capt. Benjamin Greene, of Rhode Island—a younger brother of
Gov. William Greene—established a home farm near Mamacock, at the
point called “Scotch Cap.” He is not only a shipmaster but the owner
of several vessels and their cargoes. His brother, the governor, is
a frequent visitor at Scotch Cap. The wife of Captain Greene is of
the Angell family of Rhode Island. Delight, daughter of Capt.
Benjamin Greene, marries John, son of John Rogers, 2d. The Greenes
are of both Quaker and Baptist sympathies. Samuel Rogers, son of
John, 2d, marries a daughter of Stephen Gardner, from Rhode Island,
whose family are of Quaker origin. The other marriageable son of
this date weds a daughter of Mr. John Savol (or Saville), a
prominent member of the Congregational church, afterwards of
Norwich. One daughter of John Rogers, 2d, marries a son of John
Bolles; another marries a young man of Groton whose father is an
enterprising business man from Rhode Island; the other four
daughters marry sons of members of the Congregational church (New
London and elsewhere), of high standing and ample means.

Footnote 153:

Since John Rogers resided as a pastor on the Great Neck from 1675
to 1699 he had undoubtedly a following of that locality.

Footnote 154:

Her first child was baptized in the Congregational church, but the
other children do not appear on the Congregational church records,
by which it may be judged that she was brought over to her
husband’s views in this particular.

The sons of John Bolles have not all taken wives from among the
Rogerenes, but are less allied to those of Congregational
persuasion; outside of their own sect they have most favored Baptist
women. The second wife of John Rogers, 2d, appears not to have been
a Rogerene before marriage, and the same may be said of the second
wife of John Bolles. If such facts are true of the chief leaders and
their children, we may easily judge of the alliances of their
followers with persons of other denominations, in this comparatively
quiet interval.

The above particulars are important as showing the social status of
the leading New London Rogerenes in the middle of the eighteenth
century, and proving that, although holding strictly to their own
opinions and customs, they are not only accounted honorable and
esteemed members of the community, but are so liberally inclined as
to be in a large degree connected with liberal members of other
sects. John Rogers, 2d, has said: “I abhor the abusing of any
sect.”—_Answer to Peter Pratt._ It appears likely that he also
abhors the isolation of any sect, believing men and women can differ
on certain religious points, and yet be friends and even partners
for life.

This ready association of the New London Rogerenes with friendly
people of other denominations, is but one of many evidences that the
chief contention of these people has not been regarding minor
matters of church government and customs, nor even so much in regard
to baptism and hireling ministers; but that the great struggle, from
first to last, has been for religious liberty; in asserting which
liberty they must oppose those who institute, enforce or uphold laws
inimical to free expression of religious belief, or individual
liberty in the form of worship. Having the high ground of apostolic
doctrines and usages upon which to found a strong opposition to
ecclesiastical tyranny, they have fought the good fight upon that
sacred foundation.

The indications are strong that by the middle of the eighteenth
century there is not so much friction between the Rogerenes and the
authorities in regard to the gathering of rates for the
Congregational ministry, but that the old, exorbitant methods of
seizure have declined to less grievous proportions. Nor does there
appear to be serious interference with Sunday labor or travelling,
which argues that the Rogerenes are not driven, by close watch and
frequent arrests, to any extraordinary demonstrations of their
disapproval of governmental meddling in matters of conscience. It
appears to be the policy at this period to let them alone on these
sensitive points, in consequence of which toleration they do not
consider it necessary to make their differences of belief so
distinctly prominent. Evidently, a large measure of the freedom for
which this sect has contended is already accorded; certain
ecclesiastical laws, not yet erased from the statute book, are
becoming, in the neighborhood of the Rogerenes at least, of the dead
letter order, which is the case with many other laws still upon that
book.

In June, 1753, occurs the death of John Rogers, 2d, in his eightieth
year. He has made a long and heroic stand, since at the age of
seventeen years he joined his father in this contest. To him is
largely due the size and strength of a sect that has called for the
bravest of the brave—and found them.

Fifteen children gather at Mamacock, to follow the remains of this
honored and beloved father to the grave, eight sons and seven
daughters, of the average age of thirty-four years, the eldest (son)
being fifty-two and the youngest (son) fourteen years of age.
Besides these, with their families, and the widow in her prime, is
the large gathering of Bolleses and other friends and followers in
the locality, also those of Groton and doubtless many from other
places.

They lay the form of this patriarch beside his father, his wife
Bathsheba and the children gone before, in the ground he has set
apart, in the southeast corner of his farm, as a perpetual burial
place for his descendants, close by the beautiful river that washes
Mamacock. They mark his grave, like the others in this new ground,
by two rough stones, from nature’s wealth of granite in this
locality, whose only tracery shall be the lichen’s mossy green or
tender mould.[155]

Footnote 155:

The early graves still discernible in this old family
burying-ground are marked by natural, uninscribed stones, which
was the ordinary mode before gravestones came into common use in
New England. In family burying-places, on farms or in
out-of-the-way places, the lack of inscriptions continued to a
comparatively late period. Many such old family burying-places
have been long obliterated. The preservation of this one is
probably due to its being secured by deed. (See New London Record,
November 13, 1751.) It is said that, despite the lack of
inscriptions, descendants in the earlier part of the nineteenth
century could tell who was buried in each of the old graves. The
railroad has cut off a portion of this burial ground, which
originally extended to the verge of the river. Tradition states
that some of the graves on the river bank were washed away at the
time of the great September gale (1813).

John Rogers, 2d, was a man of remarkable thrift and enterprise as
well as of high moral and religious character.[156] His inventory is
the largest of his time in New London and vicinity, and double that
of many accounted rich, consisting mainly of a number of valuable
farms on both sides of the Norwich road, including the enlarged
Mamacock farm, the central part of which (Mamacock proper), his home
farm, is shown by the inventory to be under a high state of
cultivation and richly stocked with horses, cattle and sheep. His
children had received liberal gifts from him in his lifetime.

Footnote 156:

There are numerous allusions to John Rogers, 2d, in the “Hempstead
Diary,” but a number of references to “John Rogers,” which in the
published Diary are credited to John, 2d, refer to his cousin,
Capt. John Rogers, of Great Neck vicinity, as does the statement
under October 4, 1735, that John Rogers “girdled the apple trees”
on the “Crossman lot.” This “Crossman lot,” on the Great Neck, by
“Lower Mamacock,” was in litigation between Capt. John Rogers and
Mr. Hempstead, for some time, and was finally accorded to Mr.
Hempstead. “Lower Mamacock” by “lower Alewife Cove,” is easily
confounded with “Upper Mamacock,” by “upper Alewife Cove,”
although they are six or seven miles apart.

Four of the eight sons of John Rogers, 2d, are now in the prime of
life, and not only landed proprietors but men of excellent business
ability. John, the youngest of the four, now in his thirtieth year,
is appointed administrator of his father’s estate and guardian of
his two minor brothers. James, the eldest, is a very enterprising
business man. That his coopering establishment is a large plant is
shown by the fact that he is, immediately after the death of his
father, the richest man in New London, his estate being nearly equal
to that left by his father.[157] The preamble of his will proved in
1754, shows him to have been a Christian of no ordinary stamp. Thus
soon, after the death of John Rogers, 2d, this worthy and capable
son, who must have been a man of large influence in the Society, is
removed. For some time previous to his death, he occupied, as a home
farm, the southern third of the enlarged Mamacock[158]—which fell to
him later by his father’s will—upon which was a “mansion house” said
to have been built of materials brought from Europe. His brother
Samuel has inherited the northern third of the enlarged Mamacock,
upon which he resided for some time previous to the death of his
father. His brother John has inherited the central part, or Mamacock
proper, which his father reserved for his own use.

Footnote 157:

This coopering establishment was located on Main Street, by the
Mill Cove, on land which had been given him by his father in 1725
(New London Record); it bordered the Mill Cove and there was a
wharf belonging to it. Tradition has confounded this James with
his son James, the only son of the former who reached middle life.
James, Jr., was remembered by some of the older people of the
middle of the nineteenth century and familiarly called “Jimmy
Rogers.” He succeeded to the business of his father, by the Mill
Cove, and continued it on a still larger scale, packing beef of
his own preparation, in barrels of his own manufacture, and
shipping it to southern markets. He was a very successful business
man; but the piety conspicuous in the character of his father is
not ascribable to this James, who appears not to have made any
profession of the Christian faith. He was a young man at the time
of the persecution of the Society to which his father belonged,
which was instituted by the denomination of which his mother was a
member, and which resulted in the blood-curdling scenes attendant
upon the countermove of 1764-6. Such scenes enacted by professing
Christians, in vengeful punishment of other professing Christians,
were calculated to make anything but a religious impression upon a
youth of the strictly practical turn of mind that is ascribed to
this James.

Footnote 158:

The farm now (1904) occupied by Mr. Henry Benham is a portion of
what was the James Rogers farm. A southern portion of the latter
was sold by heirs of James, Jr., to the Lewis brothers. The farm
inherited by Samuel Rogers is now owned by Mr. Stephen Comstock.
Mamacock proper, left to John Rogers, 3d, is the farm now owned by
Mr. Fitzgerald, including Mamacock peninsula. Each of these farms
had, originally, pasture and woodland on the west side of the
Norwich road.

All of the above farms were valuable in old times, when clearings
were the exception, being rich lands carefully cultivated.

All the sons of John Rogers have been well educated; John has marked
literary talent; his brother Alexander appears to be a schoolmaster
of uncommon ability, although farmer and shoemaker as well.[159]

Footnote 159:

Specimens of his penmanship still extant, would compare favorably
with that of modern masters. These specimens are in possession of
Mr. Gilbert Rogers, of Quaker Hill.

The eight sons of John Bolles are among the wealthiest and most
enterprising citizens of New London; several own valuable lands in
the very heart of the town, as well as farms outside; they are
business men as well as farmers. Ebenezer Bolles is one of the
richest merchants in New London. The moral character of these sons
of John Rogers and John Bolles is without reproach. They are
professing Christians of the most evangelical stamp. Their sisters
are wives of thrifty and upright men.

These people and their adherents are not only a strong business
element in this community, but they are a strong moral and religious
element. If the present policy of non-enforcement in regard to this
sect of the ecclesiastical laws which they are bound to resist
should be continued, there is every reason to expect that in another
generation they will mingle with the rest of the community in so
friendly a manner as to be willing to compromise regarding such
minor differences as the observance or non-observance of days.

In 1754, John Bolles issued in pamphlet form “A Message to the
General Court in Boston,” in behalf of the principles of religious
liberty. In a volume in which this pamphlet was republished are two
other publications of this author, one of which (apparently written
about this time) is the tract entitled “True Liberty of Conscience
is in Bondage to no Flesh.” In this tract, among accounts of
persecution inflicted on the Rogerenes, is the following (also noted
in Part I.):—

“To my knowledge was taken from a man, only for the cost of a
justice’s court and court charge for whipping him for breach of
Sabbath (so called) a mare worth a hundred pounds, and nothing
returned; and this is known by us yet living, to have been the
general practice in Connecticut.”

The “by us yet living” and “to have been” indicate that it was at a
time considerably previous to this writing that such great cruelty
and extortions were in vogue. Yet it also shows how easily, with no
such publicity as would be incurred by presentation before the
County Court, great persecutions could be carried on by town
magistracy, a possibility always existing under the ecclesiastical
laws relative to Sunday observances.

John Bolles took his “Message to the General Court” to Boston for
presentation, in 1754, making the journey of two hundred miles on
horseback, in his seventy-seventh year. (See Part I., Chap. VII.)

In the previous year—October, 1753—close following the death of John
Rogers, 2d, had occurred the death of Rev. Eliphalet Adams, after a
pastorate of over forty years in New London. It has been seen that
since the death of Governor Saltonstall no virulent persecution of
the Rogerenes has occurred, and that the character and policy of Mr.
Adams have been favorable to compromise and conciliation. But very
soon after the death of Mr. Adams there appear signs of a grievance
on the part of the Rogerenes of a character to call forth one of
their old-time warnings. Proof of this appears in the “Hempstead
Diary”:—

_March 17, 1754._ John Waterhouse of Groton and John Bolles and
his sons and a company of Rogerenes came to meeting late in the
forenoon service, and tarried and held their meeting after our
meeting was over, and left off without any disorder before our
afternoon meeting began.

It is thirty-three years since Mr. Hempstead has had occasion to
note such a noon meeting on the part of the Rogerenes. By what
official move this warning has been induced does not appear.
Evidently no violence was offered the Rogerenes. This meeting will
be a sufficient check for some time upon whatever attempts are on
foot to disturb them.

Two years later, J. Hempstead writes in his Diary: “1756, May 30.
John Waterhouse and a company came to our meeting.”

There is evidently some call for another warning. The Congregational
pulpit is, at this date, filled with temporary supply.

In this evident crisis, it is probable that none await the action of
the Congregational church in their choice of a minister with more
interest than do the Rogerenes. Upon the views and temper of Mr.
Adam’s successor will largely depend the continuance or
discontinuance of the generally pacific attitude on both sides,
which has continued for so many years. In the Congregational church
membership are town officials as well as those in still more
influential positions.

It is not until 1757 that a new minister is installed over the
Congregational church, in the person of Mr. Mather Byles, Jr., a
talented and very resolute young man, twenty-three years of
age.[160]

Footnote 160:

The liberal salary, for those times, accorded this very young man
was £100 per annum and a gratuity of £240 every four years. Yet we
soon find him complaining of the insufficiency of his salary.

This youth is of such character and persuasion as to resemble, in
this particular community, a firebrand in the neighborhood of a
quantity of gunpowder. (After the gunpowder has exploded and Mr.
Byles determines to remain no longer in this vicinity, in taking
leave of the Congregational church he says: “If I have not the
Sabbath, what have I? ’Tis the sweetest enjoyment of my whole
life.”)

This young man, whose “sweetest enjoyment” is the Puritan Sabbath so
reprobated by the Rogerenes, naturally looks over the field to see
how he can best distinguish himself as a zealous minister of the
ruling order. He observes a large portion of this community taking
sufficient pains to demonstrate to all beholders that they are
pledged to follow no laws or customs, regarding religious affairs,
other than those instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and His
inspired apostles, and that they are particularly called to bear
witness against that so-called “holy day” first instituted by the
emperor Constantine, which has, in an extreme form, been forced upon
the people of New England as a necessary adjunct to the worship of
God.

This zealous young minister appears to consider it his plain duty to
stem this awful tide of anarchy as best he may, lest it become a
torrent in New England that no man can stay. Thus he may distinguish
himself in a pulpit once occupied by the famous Governor Saltonstall
and succeed where even that dignitary failed. He will endeavor to
bring such new odium and wrath upon this obstinate sect as shall
effectually annihilate their Society.

Among the first efforts of Mr. Byles are sermons regarding the
sanctity of the Sabbath, accompanied by other attempts to arouse his
own people and the rest of the community (outside the Rogerene
Society) to the duty and necessity of putting a stop to any
desecration whatever of the “sacred” day.[161]

Footnote 161:

After the terrible scenes which have been brought about by his
policy, we find him, even in taking leave of the Congregational
church, complaining that the laws against the Rogerenes are “not
enforced.” If in the day of his disaster he is making such
complaint, what must have been his urgency at the time of his
confident entry upon this scene?

The Rogerenes soon find themselves not only preached to and against,
but seriously meddled with by the town authorities in ways for a
long time neglected. It is now again as in the days of John Rogers,
when he stated that “the priests stirred up the people and the mob”
against his Society.

The Rogerene countermove is almost unknown to this generation of
rulers; as for traditions concerning it, or the mild warnings of
1745 and 1754, perchance certain officials would be nothing loath to
see if they could not, by the trial of a more vigorous policy,
succeed better than did their predecessors in such contests, nor
would such officials be likely to anticipate lack of general public
sympathy in such an effort. It is as important to the Baptist church
as to the Congregational that Sunday should be accounted a sacred
day; let it be accounted otherwise, where would be attendants on
“divine worship”? Surely the young people would go to places of
amusement or of mischief, rather than to meeting-houses. The object
lesson presented by these upright and deeply religious Rogerenes,
whose youth are among the most exemplary and godly in the land, is
naturally lost upon a people who cannot trust the Lord himself to
furnish sufficient guidance for His church.

Joseph Bolles (born 1701), eldest son of John Bolles, is a leader
among the Rogerenes, standing shoulder to shoulder with his father
and John Waterhouse. He is a talented man, holding, like his father,
“the pen of a ready writer,” and is clerk of the Rogerene Society.
John Bolles being now over eighty years of age, this son largely
takes his place in the active work of the Society, on the New London
side. Yet the grand old patriarch, still vigorous in mind, sits
prominent in the councils, giving these active men and youth the
benefit of his experience, wisdom and piety, combined with an
enthusiasm as ardent as that of the youngest of them all.

The more the magistrates, inspired by Mr. Byles, re-enforce his
sermons by strict and unusual measures, the more do the Rogerenes,
following their olden policy in such emergencies, add to their
Sunday labors in the endeavor to fully convince their opponents that
they are not to be coerced in this matter.

Ere long, the Rogerenes are severely fined, and in lieu of payment
of such fines, which never have been voluntarily paid, are
imprisoned, sometimes twenty at a time, many of them being kept in
durance for a period of seven months. Their goods and the best of
their cattle and horses are seized, to be sold at auction and
nothing returned. Those having no such seizable property, are
imprisoned for non-payment of minister’s rates. In the midst of this
strenuous attack, Mr. Byles preaches an elaborate sermon, to be
published and circulated, in answer to what he calls the “Challenge”
of the Rogerenes, viz., their reiterated requests that the besieging
party will show them any Scriptural authority for the so-called
religious observance of the first day of the week, or for any
required “holy Sabbath” under the new dispensation. In this sermon
he calls the Rogerenes “blind, deluded, obstinate,” which terms are
quite as applicable to the church party, from the Rogerene point of
view. The onset continues, with added determination on the attacking
side and no show of weakening on that of the defense.

Since the pen is mightier than the sword, it may do good service in
such a time of peril as threatens the very existence of this devoted
sect. Joseph Bolles, sitting by his father’s side, sharpens his
quill to a fine point,[162] and the tremulous but earnest voice of
the faithful patriarch not only aids the theme, but speaks words of
comfort and of cheer; for is not this the cause of the Lord himself?

Footnote 162:

See extracts from “Reply to Mr. Byles,” by Joseph Bolles, in
_Appendix_.

There is another, John Rogers (3d), who, like his father and
grandfather before him, holds the pen of a ready writer. He was born
in 1724, three years after the death of his illustrious grandfather.
With the rapt attention, the retentive memory and the plastic mind
of youth, he has received from his father’s lips accounts of the
thrilling experiences of the past; as a young man, he has followed
the teachings and emulated the deeds of his people. He, too, will
sharpen a quill ere long.

[Particular attention is here called to the following reference to
Mr. Byles, in the “Reply of Joseph Bolles.” See _Appendix_ for full
connection. “It is this sort of ministers that preach to the General
Court to suppress or persecute them that walk by the apostle’s
doctrine, for not observing this Sabbath which he” (Byles) “says the
apostles ‘left to after discoveries.’” It is certain that the
Rogerenes are under no difficulty in discerning from whence emanates
the influence that has set this new persecution on foot and is
continuing it to a crisis.]

The first efforts at repression proving ineffectual, severer
measures are adopted by the attacking party. Yet there are several
years more of patient endurance and forbearance on the part of the
Rogerenes before they resolve to turn upon their foes the sole
effectual means of defense at their command in times like these.

Among legal weapons available to the church party are four
ecclesiastical laws, the strict application of which—as regards the
Rogerenes, at least—have fallen into disuse, viz.: the law against
Sunday labor, that against going from one’s house on Sunday except
to and from authorized meetings, the law against unauthorized
meetings and those holding or attending such meetings, and the law
by which any one not attending meetings of the ruling order or the
services of some authorized Society of which he is a member, in a
regular meeting-house on Sunday, can be fined for every such
absence.[163] (Besides these are the large fines for baptizing and
administering the Lord’s Supper on the part of unauthorized
persons.)

Footnote 163:

There are traditions among descendants of the Rogerenes to the
effect that one of the features of the persecution that called
forth the countermove of 1764-6 was molestation of the Rogerenes
for not attending regular (“lawful”) meetings. This tradition is
found in different families situated far apart. Mr. John R. Bolles
received such a statement from his mother (who was a daughter of
John Rogers, 3d). Since this history asserts nothing upon
tradition, this cannot be stated as a proven fact, although it
appears fully probable.

It is optional with the town magistrates to present persons guilty
of breaking any of the above laws before the next County Court or to
deal with such “at their own discretion,” a discretion which in a
number of instances has taken the form of lynch law, by giving the
offenders over to a mischievous mob. It is not the policy at this
time to present the Rogerenes before the County Court; not only
would such publicity be liable to create outside sympathy with the
Rogerenes, but the fines of this court for such offenses are limited
to an inconsiderable amount, expressed in shillings, while the
“discretion” of the town magistrates allows of serious fines,
expressed in pounds, as well as imprisonment, stocks and stripes.
The damaging effect of a friendly jury is also to be avoided. (But
one reference to the Rogerenes is to be found on the records of the
County Court during the more or less turbulent period between 1758
and 1766; this reference occurs in regard to the barring of the
doors of the New London prison by the prisoners, for which the
penalty is conspicuously slight.—See end of this Chapter.)

While this persecution, the most virulent that has ever been visited
upon the Rogerenes as a Society, is nearing a crisis, occurs the
death of Ebenezer Bolles, June 24, 1762, at the age of fifty-four,
through contact with “poisonous wood.”[164] An obituary notice, in
the next issue of the _Connecticut Gazette_, attests to the wealth,
integrity, hospitality and general worthiness of this New London
merchant, and also states that no physician or medicines were
allowed in his sickness,[165] he “belonging to the Society of
Rogerenes.”

Footnote 164:

There are said to be indications (J. S. Sachse) that memorial
services for Ebenezer Bolles, as entertainer of the Pilgrims in
1744, were held at the Ephrata Cloister. In a reference to his
death, on the records of the Cloister, is this invocation: “God
grant him a blessed resurrection!”

Footnote 165:

The ineffectiveness of medicines and applications to even
alleviate the symptoms of such poisoning, after the malady is
fully under way, is well known. Yet neither with nor without the
use of medical means would death be expected to ensue in such a
case. That there was an unsuspected complication in this instance,
leading to sudden death, seems probable. To persons living in the
country, as did the Rogerenes for the most part, an illness so
common as poisoning by ivy or by alder (apparently the latter in
this case) would not be regarded of a really dangerous character,
however distressing. There have been persons greatly bloated and
in great suffering by such poison, whose condition gave no serious
alarm and who recovered in the usual period.

The account of this death, as of that of John Rogers in 1721, is
important; since it affords proof, more than forty years after the
latter event, that this Society are as unswerving as ever in their
adherence to Scriptural methods. How much reason has John Bolles,
now in his 86th year, to discard this faith, even in the day of his
great bereavement? He has still twelve children in health and vigor,
between the ages of 60 and 20, eight of whom are destined to live to
the following ages: 94, 91, 85, 84, 83, 82, 78, 75, and the other
four beyond middle life. In the Rogers and other leading Rogerene
families there appears a like flourishing condition.

After more than five year’s continuance of aggravations instituted
and continued under the leadership of Mr. Byles, which have finally
reached a stage past endurance, the Rogerenes, on both sides of the
river, are gathering in council about a common campfire, to consider
the move that must be made, a countermove beside which the entrance
of John Rogers and his wheelbarrow into the meeting-house in 1694
shall pale to insignificance.[166] The plan concluded upon bears the
stamp of such veterans in the cause as John Bolles and John
Waterhouse, as well as of keen young wits besides. They will give
their enemies all the attendance upon meetings in “lawful
assemblies” on their part, that these enemies will be likely to
invite for some time to come; they will enter into those assemblies,
and, if necessary, there will they testify against this “holy
Sabbath,” for the non-observance of which they are again so bitterly
persecuted, and against such other features of the worship of their
enemies as are opposed to the teachings of the New Testament. So
long as the ecclesiastical laws which forced their sect into
existence are executed against them, so long will they enter into
those assemblies thus to testify. The unscriptural features against
which they will testify are easily set forth, and to these the
testimony shall be strictly confined, with no mention of themselves
or their wrongs. For whatever comes of this testimony, made in the
name of the Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with His teachings, and
after the example of His apostles, they are prepared, even though it
be martyrdom. The first attempt shall be of a tacit nature; if that
avail as a warning, well and good; they will not disturb the
meetings unless compelled to such extremity.

Footnote 166:

Quakertown traditions regarding this period are no less thrilling
than those of New London side, and point to measures reaching even
into the wilds of Groton. Only by spies and officials in the
vicinity of the Groton Rogerenes, could they have been made to
share in the persecution. As before said, most of their neighbors
were Baptists. A historical account of the Baptist church of that
vicinity avers, apparently from tradition, that some of the Groton
Rogerenes came to that church in this period, bringing work,
interrupting the minister, etc. If the Groton Rogerenes were
seriously molested by these Baptists, it is not unlikely that they
instituted a countermove on that church for protection; but we
have been unable to discover any proof of the accuracy of the
statement regarding disturbance of the Baptist meetings, no record
regarding such disturbance having been found, or any contemporary
mention of the same. (See “Quakertown Chapter.”)

The fact that the Rogerene leaders of Groton were closely related
to some on the New London side, added to the fact that they were
church brethren, is sufficient to account for their joining with
the Quaker Hill people in the New London countermove. John
Waterhouse had a son of the same name living on Quaker Hill at
this time, on a farm that had been given to him by his father.

Mild indeed seems that first countermove (1685) when Capt. James
Rogers, by the commotion which his “testimony” called forth in the
meeting-house caused “some women to swound,” in comparison with that
of the Sunday, June 10, 1764, when a procession of Rogerenes from
Quaker Hill, re-enforced by friends from Groton, and including men,
women, and children, wends its solemn and portentous way into the
town, to enter into the midst of their persecutors.

Upon reaching the meeting-house, a number quietly enter, others
remain outside. The men who enter keep on their hats, in token of
dissent to the doctrines of this church. If some of these hats
chance to be broad-brimmed, so much the better. Wonderingly and
fearfully must the larger part of the congregation behold this
entrance and the quick-rising ire on the faces of such church
members as are most responsible for its occurrence. As for Mr.
Byles, his sensations may be imagined. He is in the midst of his
usual long prayer[167] containing copious information to the Creator
of the Universe, together with thanks and commendation to the same
Almighty Power, for many circumstances which have been brought about
by men in direct disobedience to His revealed Word; also petitions
for the forgiveness of the sins of this congregation, some of the
most serious of which—as persecution of their neighbors—they fully
intend to commit over and over again. In all probability some
portion of this prayer is aimed directly at the Rogerenes, in regard
to keeping “holy” the Sabbath day.

Footnote 167:

It was usually in the time of this unscriptural prayer that the
countermove took place.

Some commotion, caused by the entrance of the Rogerenes, compels Mr.
Byles to open his eyes before this long prayer is at an end. When he
does open them, he beholds these men with their hats on and these
women engaged in knitting, or some small sewing, in token that they,
too, are Rogerenes.

How long certain officials, and other church members, restrain
themselves is uncertain, even if they restrain themselves at all
from vengeance dire; but before the prayer is regularly ended, the
Rogerenes are fallen upon and driven out of the meeting-house with
great violence and fury, while those in waiting outside are attacked
with like rage, prominent church members and officials kicking and
beating unresisting men, women and children and driving them to
prison.

This treatment but deepens the determination of the Rogerenes. It is
evident that merely keeping on their hats and doing a little
knitting or sewing will not answer for an emergency like this. It
must be no fault of theirs if this effort in the Master’s cause
shall fail. They now enter the assembly of their persecutors to
declare, by word of mouth and with no lack of distinctness, against
the false doctrines of this persecuting church. This testimony will
they add to the silent mode of disapproval until these enemies
desist from their unendurable attempts at coercion, and from these
furious beatings, kickings, drivings, imprisonments, etc.

The party who renewed this almost forgotten contest, under the
leadership of Mr. Byles and his friends, with the intention of
making the position of the Rogerenes untenable, having brought
affairs to this crisis, are resolved to conquer. They proceed in the
line of violence which they have inaugurated, and in their rage even
demand of these devoted people that—to escape torture—they recant
their testimony against the doctrines and practices of this church.
Their testimony being of a purely Scriptural character, how can they
recant, even if they would, except by denying the truth of those
declarations from the New Testament which they have proclaimed in
the presence of their persecutors? The zeal of the Rogerenes is only
redoubled. It is now a question whether they will obey men rather
than God, for fear of what men may do to them. Yet, in their strict
fidelity to the teachings of Christ, they make no resistance to the
redoubled efforts of their enemies. Though their old men are
scourged to the verge of death and their women insulted; though
their brethren are suspended by the thumbs to be mercilessly whipped
on the bare skin; though warm tar is poured on their heads; though
men and women are driven through the streets more brutally than any
cattle, to be thrown into the river; though they are given over to
mobs of heartless children and youth to be whipped with thorny
sticks and otherwise abused, not the smallest or weakest of their
persecutors need fear the slightest violence in return.

With every attempt at a fresh testimony, the brutality of their
enemies is increased and the terms of imprisonment doubled, until
the prison is filled to suffocation and some of those within venture
to bar the doors against the incarceration of fresh victims. It
being impossible to further punish the offenders already in prison,
other than through presentation to the County Court, those who have
barred the door are presented at that court, probably on their own
confession, by reason of which there is one court record, relating
to this otherwise lawless contest of a year and a half in duration,
which is to the following effect:—

“Samuel Rogers, John Rogers, Alexander Rogers, Nathaniel Rogers”
(all sons of John Rogers, 2d) “and Joseph Bolles, of New London,
Samuel Smith of Groton” (grandson of Bathsheba) “Timothy
Waterhouse” (son of John of Groton) “bound over to the County
Court to answer complaint of Christopher Christophers” (son of
Chris. Chris.) “sheriff of New London, for that said persons, with
sundry other persons, on Sunday, Aug. 12th, 1764, did, in a very
high-handed, tumultuous manner, being in N. L. prison, bar up the
doors of said prison on the justice, so that said sheriff and
officers were denied and prevented admission into and possession
of said prison, and made a most tumultuous noise and uproar &c. as
pr. writ.”

The sentence of the court is a fine of 40_s._ each and costs of
prosecution, £2 each, which indicates more sympathy than severity on
the part of this court.

[Since the early and the latter scenes of this long contest are
shown to have been marked by unflinching endurance, unswerving
courage and strategic measures on the part of the defence, it may be
judged that during the entire period of unrelenting endeavors to
continue to a successful issue the policy instigated by Mr. Byles,
the assailants of the Rogerenes were encouraged by no signs of
weakening on the part of the sufferers, while much discouraged by
the disgrace attached to their church and the disapprobation of not
a few of its own members, on account of the unprecedentedly severe
policy that had brought on this countermove and the startlingly
barbarous punishments for the same.]

After nearly two year’s continuance of such heroic measures, under
leadership of Mr. Byles and his friends, the Rogerenes, while many
of their heads of families are in prison, institute a new kind of
tactics, striking more directly at the very root of the matter,
viz., at Mr. Byles. The plan is to have some of their people besiege
Mr. Byles, at every conceivable opportunity, with attempts to
converse with him in regard to the teachings of the New Testament,
and to reason with him concerning the cruelties practised upon the
Rogerenes. They are also to go to the meeting-house on Sunday and
sit directly in his sight, and they are to linger in the
neighborhood of his house or the meeting-house, where he may know of
their vicinity and expect them to walk with him and talk to him “of
the things of God,” whenever he ventures outside.

Victory is now near at hand. Mr. Byles is driven nearly frantic. His
tormentors are thrown into prison for declining to give bonds or to
pay fines for attempts to approach this gentleman and converse with
him. In this serio-comic crisis, parties of Rogerenes enter the
meeting-house on Sunday and sit where Mr. Byles cannot fail to
observe their grave, earnest and otherwise expressive faces, telling
volumes at a glance, of inexpressible sufferings and losses, endured
through tedious months and wasting years, of children left
fatherless and motherless at home or wandering the streets tearful
and hungry, and of many a bitter thing well known to Mr. Byles. But,
most eloquent of all to him and most impressive, is the fixed
determination in their faces to continue in his sight at every
opportunity. Even a cat may look at a king without fear of
consequences, and so do the Rogerenes look at Mr. Byles. Here is
something that has been left out of the law books.

Ere long, the able-bodied men and women not in prison may attend to
business and family duties, while a few old people, principally
women, go on Sunday to sit in the meeting-house, or stand outside
before and after meeting. Also on week days they sit or stand in the
vicinity of Mr. Byle’s house, until he will not venture out, if but
one such person is near. Nor will he go to the church on Sunday,
even if there are but two or three Rogerene women outside, until
some official drives them away and escorts him to the meeting-house.
The bell is sometimes kept tolling a full hour, until it is time the
long service should be well under way, before the minister makes his
appearance; he has been waiting for some one to drive these women
away.

For the whole time—more than two months—that the men who have
attempted to converse with Mr. Byles are kept in prison, these
faithful women keep the watch on Mr. Byles. When the men are at
length released, they renew their endeavors to talk with Mr. Byles.
It is now not long before Mr. Byles has had more than enough
opportunity to distinguish himself in an endeavor to extinguish the
Rogerenes. He is determined not only to leave New London but to
desert the Congregational ministry and denomination, and lays all
the blame of his failure to conquer these people upon lack of
execution of the ecclesiastical laws!!![168] His determination is
sudden, so far as the knowledge of his parishioners is concerned,
and his exit speedy in the extreme. (For particulars regarding his
resignation, see extract from “Debate, etc.,” in _Appendix_.)

Footnote 168:

Mr. Byles, having precipitately left New London and the country to
receive Episcopal orders in England, his “forsaken congregation”
(Caulkins) criticised and ridiculed him mercilessly, even to
lampoons (see “History of New London”), among which was one called
“The Proselyte,” which was sung to the tune of “The Thief and the
Cordelier.” He afterwards became an Episcopal minister in Boston,
but in the time of the Revolution was a royalist and a refugee,
among those prohibited from returning to Massachusetts. He was
succeeded in the Congregational church at New London by Rev.
Ephraim Woodbridge, grandson of the first Congregational minister
of Groton, of the same name. Mr. Woodbridge was a most estimable
man. He allowed of no admission to church membership without
evidence of conversion, contrary to the practice so long in vogue
in New London previous to his ministry. It is a notable fact that
certain families belonging to the Congregational church before
this season of persecution, are afterwards found members of
another denomination. It is unlikely that the popularity of this
church was other than injured by the fame of this exploit, the
effect of which, as well as the new rule for admission, may help
to account for the fact that by 1776 there were but five men on
its roll of membership. It will be remembered that some members of
this church were allied to the Rogerenes, while others were
evidently liberal and friendly.

The Rogerenes may now rest on their laurels. With Mr. Byles out of
the way, we hear no more of harsh measures being employed against
this sect. They may now attend their own meetings upon Sunday
instead of those of their opponents, never neglecting, however, to
give sufficient evidence that this is to them a holiday and not a
“holy day.”

John Bolles lived to praise God that He had granted His servants
strength to continue faithful to the end and given them so signal a
victory. This devout and heroic Christian was called to his reward
in his ninetieth year, January 7, 1767.

In another decade, is heard the trumpet call of the Revolution. It
is more than probable that a people of such courage and love of
liberty have some difficulty at this time in keeping their
sentiments within scriptural limits, and still more difficulty in
holding back their youth from the fray. Not a few grandsons of John
Rogers, 2d, and John Bolles, as well as other Rogerene youth, break
away. One of them crosses the Delaware with Washington, and another
is in the body-guard of the great general. The young volunteers of
this blood and training fight bravely on land and sea. Some of them
die on the field and some in loathsome prison ships.[169] Outside of
the John Rogers descent, many are the descendants of James Rogers,
1st, that join the Continental army and navy. Yet, for the most
part, the Rogerene youth hold firmly to the doctrine of
non-resistance as set forth in the New Testament. Many of them are
among the first to note the inconsistency between the sentence in
the Declaration of Independence regarding the equal rights of all
men and the clause in the Constitution countenancing slavery. As for
the torch of religious liberty which this sect held aloft in the
darkness, through many a weary contest,—a few years more, and the
flame that it has helped to kindle leaps high, in the dim dawn of
that day whose sun shall yet flood the heavens.

Footnote 169:

Of John Bolles, 4th (on his mother’s side a grandson of Joseph
Bolles), who served in the Revolution on board armed vessels of
Connecticut, and died on board a prison ship of the enemy, it was
said, by one who knew him, that he was “a young man of
extraordinary intelligence, information and gallantry.”

[For further elucidation of the events set forth in this chapter,
there is presented in the _Appendix_ an extract from the pamphlet
published about 1759 by Joseph Bolles, describing some of the
opening events of this persecution under the leadership of Mr.
Byles, also several extracts from the pamphlet written by John
Rogers, 3d, giving particulars of the merciless punishments
inflicted upon those who took part in the countermove of 1764-66.
This pamphlet is entitled “A Looking Glass for the Presbyterians
of New London.” The limits of this chapter have allowed of very
brief presentation of those cruelties, expressed in general terms.
Still other extracts from the pamphlet by John Rogers, 3d, may be
found in the “History of New London”; but only a perusal of the
whole work could give an adequate idea of the barbarous cruelties
practised upon the Rogerenes in this contest, during the whole of
which not one of the victims was charged with returning a single
blow or making any resistance to the attacks of the lynching
parties. There is also presented in the _Appendix_, in connection
with this chapter, quotations from a pamphlet which appeared
shortly after the resignation of Mr. Byles, under the auspices of
the Congregational church, entitled _A Debate between Rev. Mr.
Byles and the Brethren_, which portion relates to Mr. Byle’s
determination to leave that church and ministry, and shows his
aversion to the Rogerenes who were his victors. It will be seen
that from the three above-mentioned sources has been drawn the
information contained in this chapter.]

Share