In the new century, ecclesiastical persecutions are scarcely more
than a tradition, save to the aged men and women still living who
took part in their youth in the great countermove, the sufferings
attendant upon which are now, even to them, as a nightmare dream.
The laws that nerved to heroic protest a people resolved to obey no
dictation of man in regard to the worship of God lie dead upon the
statute book—although as yet not buried. The Rogerenes are taking
all needful rest on Sunday, the day set apart for their meetings.
Many of those on the New London side mingle as interested listeners
in the various orthodox congregations. They walk where they please
on Sunday, and are no longer molested. The merciless intolerance
that brought this sect into existence being no longer itself
tolerated, the chief mission of the Rogerenes is well nigh
accomplished. The children may soon enter into that full Christian
liberty, in the cause of which their fathers suffered and withstood,
during the dark era of ecclesiastical despotism in New England.

After the last veterans in this cause have been gathered to their
rest, the past is more and more crowded out by the busy present.
Most of the male descendants of the New London Rogerenes remove to
other parts. Many of them are among the hardiest and most
enterprising of the western pioneers. From homes in New York and
Pennsylvania they move farther and farther west, until no State but
has a strain from Bolles and Quaker Hill. Descendants who remain in
New London, lacking a leader of their own sect in this generation,
join in a friendly manner with other denominations, affiliating most
readily with the Baptists and being least associated with the still
dominant church. In Groton, however, despite some emigration, is
still to be found an unbroken band of Rogerenes, and a remnant upon
Quaker Hill continues in fellowship with those of Groton.

As the region occupied by John Rogers, John Bolles and their
neighborhood of followers received the name of Quaker Hill, so that
district in Groton occupied chiefly by Rogerenes received the name
of Quakertown.

We find no written account or authenticated tradition regarding the
beginnings of Quakertown, save that here was the home of the Groton
leader, John Waterhouse. Given a man of this stamp as resident for
half a century, and we have abundant cause for the founding in this
place of a community of Rogerenes as compact as that at Quaker Hill.

Quakertown occupies a district about two miles square in the
southeastern part of the present town of Ledyard. It was formerly a
part of Groton. Among the early Rogerenes of this vicinity was John
Culver. Besides gifts of land from his father, John Culver had
received a gift of land from Major John Pynchon of Springfield,
Mass., in recognition of the “care, pains and service” of his father
(John Culver, Sr.) in the division of Mr. Pynchon’s lands (Groton
Records) formerly owned in partnership with James Rogers. John
Culver, Jr., did not, however, depend upon farming, being a “panel
maker” by trade. As has been seen, John Culver and his family
removed to New Jersey about 1735, there to found a Rogerene
settlement. (See Chapter XII.) His daughter Esther, however,
remained in Groton, as the wife of John Waterhouse.

Among other early Groton residents was Samuel Whipple from
Providence, both of whose grandfathers were nonconformists who had
removed to Rhode Island to escape persecution in Massachusetts.
About 1712 this enterprising man purchased a large amount of land
(said to be 1,000 acres) about eight miles from the present
Quakertown locality, in or near the present village of Poquetannoc.
Upon a stream belonging to this property, he built iron-works and a
saw-mill. It is said that the product of the iron-works was of a
superior quality, and that anchors and iron portions of some of the
ships built in New London were made at these works.[170] Samuel
Whipple’s son Zacharia married a daughter (Elizabeth) of John
Rogers, 2d; a grandson (Noah) of his son Samuel married a
granddaughter (Hope Whipple) of the same leader, and a daughter
(Anne) of his son Daniel married a grandson (William Rogers) of the
same; while a daughter (Content) of his son Zachariah married
Timothy Waterhouse, son of John Waterhouse. Yet it was not until
early in the nineteenth century that descendants of Samuel Whipple
in the male line became residents of Quakertown.[171] That the early
affiliations of the Whipple family with the Rogerenes had fitted
their descendants for close union with the native residents of the
place is indicated by the prominent position accorded the Whipples
in this community.

Footnote 170:

In his will, dated 1727, Samuel Whipple left the iron-works and
saw-mill to his son Daniel; his lands with buildings to be divided
between his sons Samuel, Zacharia and Zephania. The portion of
Zacharia sold in 1734 for £1,000.

Footnote 171:

The first of the name who came to Quakertown was Samuel Whipple
(son of above Noah and Hope), born in 1766, a man of most
estimable character and devotedly attached to peace principles.
His brother Silas also settled in Quakertown. Samuel is ancestor
of those of the name now resident in that locality.

Other families of Groton and its neighborhood affiliated and
intermarried with Rogerenes early in the nineteenth century. William
Crouch of Groton married a daughter of John Bolles. This couple are
ancestors of many of the later day Rogerenes of Quakertown. Two sons
and two grandsons of Timothy Watrous married daughters of Alexander
Rogers of Quaker Hill (one of the younger sons of John, 2d).
Although there was a proportion of Rogers and Bolles lineage in this
community at an early date, there was not one of the Rogers or
Bolles name. Later, a son of Alexander Rogers, 2d, married in
Quakertown and settled there; but this is not a representative name
in that locality, while Watrous, Whipple and Crouch are to be
distinctly classed as such.

As for other families who joined the founders of Quakertown or
became associated with their descendants, it is safe to say that men
and women who, on account of strict adherence to apostolic
teachings, relinquished all hope of worldly pleasures and successes,
to join the devoted people of this isolated district, were of a most
religious and conscientious character.

Generally speaking, the New London descendants in the nineteenth
century are a not uncompromising leaven, scattered far and wide
among many people and congregations whose religious traditions and
predilections are, unlike their own, of an ecclesiastical type.
Every radical leaven of a truly Christian character is destined to
have beneficial uses, for which reason it cannot so much be
regretted that the fate of the New London community was to be broken
up and widely disseminated.

While the New London Rogerenes were, through the mollifying
influences of a liberal public opinion, as well as by a wide
emigration and lack of a leader fitted to the emergency, slowly but
surely blending with the world around them, quite a different policy
was crystallizing upon the Groton side. That the Rogerene sect
should continue and remain a separate people was undoubtedly the
intention of John Rogers, John Rogers, 2d, John Bolles and their
immediate followers; aye, a separate people until that day, should
such day ever arrive, when there should be a general acceptance of
the law of love instituted by Christ, in place of the old law of
force and retaliation. Yet not only had these early leaders more
than enough upon them in their desperate struggle for religious
liberty, but they could not sufficiently foresee conditions ahead of
their times, in order to establish their sect for a different era.

It was by the instinct of self-preservation combined with conscious
inability to secure any adequate outside footing in the new state of
affairs, that the small but compact band at Quakertown, beholding
with dismay and disapproval the breaking up of the main body on the
New London side, resolved to prevent such a disbanding of their own
Society, by carefully bringing up their children in the faith and as
carefully avoiding contact with other denominations. It was a heroic
purpose, the more so because such a policy of isolation was so
evidently perilous to the race. Not so evident was the fact that
such exclusiveness must eventually destroy the sect which they so
earnestly desired to preserve. Such, as has been seen, was not the
policy of that founder whose flock were “scattered throughout New
England,” and some of the most efficient of whose co-workers were
drawn from the midst of an antagonistic denomination; neither was it
the policy of him who carried his Petition not only to the General
Court of Connecticut, but to that of Massachusetts. Yet it was no
ordinary man who carried out the policy above outlined, with a
straightforward purpose and vigorous leadership, in the person of
elder Zephania Watrous, a grandson of John Waterhouse.

John Waterhouse was living in 1773, at which date he was
eighty-three years of age.[172] Considerably previous to that time
he must have been succeeded by some younger man.

Footnote 172:

At the same date, Andrew Davis must also have been advanced in

Elder Timothy Watrous, the Groton leader, who next appears to view,
was a son of John Waterhouse, born in 1740. He is said to have been
an able preacher and a man of the highest degree of probity.

Supposing John Waterhouse to have been in active service to his
seventy-fifth year, Timothy could have succeeded him at the age of
twenty-four, at which age the latter took part in the great
countermove of 1764-66. His experience in this conflict is given in
his own words:—

In the fore part of my life, the principal religion of the country
was strongly defended by the civil power and many articles of the
established worship were in opposition to the religion of Jesus
Christ. Therefore I could not conform to them with a clear
conscience. So I became a sufferer. I endured many sore
imprisonments and cruel whippings. Once I received forty stripes
save one with an instrument of prim, consisting of rods about
three and a half feet long, with snags an inch long to tear the
flesh. Once I was taken and my head and face covered with warm
pitch, which filled my eyes and put me in great torment, and in
that situation was turned out in the night and had two miles to go
without the assistance of any person and but little help of my
eyes. And many other things I have suffered, as spoiling of goods,
mockings, etc. etc. But I do not pretend to relate particularly
what I have suffered; for it would take a large book to contain
it. But in these afflictions I have seen the hand of God in
holding me up; and I have had a particular love to my persecutors
at times, which so convicted them that they confessed that I was
assisted with the spirit of Christ. But although I had so tender a
feeling towards them that I could freely do them all the good in
my power; yet the truth of my cause would not suffer me to conform
to their worship, or flinch at their cruelty one jot, though my
life was at stake; for many times they threatened to kill me. But,
through the mercy of God, I have been kept alive to this day and
am seventy years of age; and I am as strong in the defense of the
truth as I was when I suffered. But my persecutors are all dead;
there is not one of them left.

This extract is from a book entitled “The Battle Axe,” written by
the above Timothy, Sr., and his sons Timothy and Zacharia. Timothy,
Jr., succeeded his father as leader and preacher in this Society.
Zacharia was a schoolmaster of considerable note, and at one time
taught school at “the head of the river.” He invented the coffee
mill so generally in use, which important invention, his widow,
being ignorant of its worth, sold for forty dollars. Having
discovered some copper ore in the vicinity of his house, he smelted
it and made a kettle. After a vain search to find a printer willing
to publish “The Battle Axe,” he made a printing-press, by means of
which, after his death, his brother Timothy published the book. Thus
“The Battle Axe,” even aside from its subject-matter, was a book of
no ordinary description. At a later date it was reprinted by the
ordinary means. Copies of the first edition are now exceedingly
rare, and held at a high price. There is a copy of this edition in
the Smithsonian Institute. We present an extract from the body of
this work in the _Appendix_, but no adequate knowledge of the book
can be obtained from so limited a space. Men who could venture to
decry war in the very height of public exaltation over the success
of the struggle for independence were too far ahead of their age, in
this regard, to attract other than unfriendly attention.[173]

Footnote 173:

The tone and style of this work as a whole are in marked contrast
to the works of John Rogers, 1st, John Rogers, 2d, and John
Bolles, whose writings, although earnest, are of a very
dispassionate character.

The first proof discovered, that the Rogerenes have conscientious
scruples in regard to paying the military fine,[174] is a printed
Petition issued by Alexander Rogers, one of the younger sons of
John, 2d, of Quaker Hill, a thorough Rogerene, and, as has been
seen, closely allied with those of Quakertown. This Petition is
dated 1810, at which time Alexander Rogers was eighty-two years of
age; his children, however, were comparatively young. The fine was
for not allowing his son to enter the train-band. (This Petition
will be found in _Appendix_.) It proves that, even at so late a date
as this, the authorities were seizing Rogerene property in the same
way as of old, taking in this instance for a fine of a few shillings
the only cow in the possession of the family, and making no return.
As of old, no attempt is made to sue for the amount taken over and
above the legal fine, but this Petition is printed and probably well
circulated in protest.[175]

Footnote 174:

It is very possible that this Society refused to pay military
fines from the first; but no record of such refusal has been

Footnote 175:

An original printed copy of this Petition is extant in Quakertown.

Soon after the death of Timothy Watrous, Sr., and that of his son
Zachariah, occurred the death of Timothy, Jr., in 1814. The latter
was succeeded in leadership of the Society by his youngest brother,
Zephania, then about thirty years of age.

By this time, the Quakertown Society had become so large that there
was need of better accommodations for their meetings than could be
afforded in an ordinary house. In 1815 the Quakertown meeting-house
was built, that picturesque and not inartistic house of many gables,
the first floor of which was for the occupation of the elder and his
family, while the unpartitioned second story was for Rogerene

Materials and labor for the building of this meeting-house were
furnished by members of the Society. The timber is said to have been
supplied from a forest felled by the September gale of 1815, and
sawed in a saw-mill owned by Rogerenes. The same gale had unroofed
the old Watrous (John Waterhouse) dwelling which stood near the site
of the meeting-house.[176]

Footnote 176:

The old meeting-house is upon land which was part of the farm
occupied by John Waterhouse, and afterwards by his son Timothy.

The Quakertown people had a schoolhouse of their own as well as a
meeting-house, and thus fully controlled the training of their youth
and preserved them from outside influence. About the middle of the
century, a regular meeting-house was built. The old meeting-house
was turned entirely into a dwelling. The newer meeting-house
resembles a schoolhouse.

Zephania Watrous was the last of the prominent leaders in this
community. He was not only gifted as a religious teacher, but
possessed much mechanical genius. By an ingenious device, water from
a large spring was conducted into the cellar of the meeting-house
and made to run the spinning-wheels in the living-room above, where
were made linen thread and fine table linen, in handsome patterns. A
daughter of this preacher (a sweet old lady, still living in this
house in 1900) stated that she used often in her youth to spin sixty
knots of thread a day.

It is alleged in Quakertown that Rogerenes were the first to decry
slavery. This claim is not without foundation. Some of the Quakers
censured this practice as early as 1750, although many of them
held slaves for a considerable time after that date. Slavery was
not publicly denounced in their Society until 1760. It was before
1730 that John Bolles came to the conclusion that slavery was not
in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament. Copies of
the papers by which he freed his slaves, bearing the above date,
may be seen among the New London town records. His resolve to keep
no more slaves and his reasons for it are among the traditions
cherished by his descendants. Attention has previously been called
to the evident aversion on the part of James Rogers and his son
John to the practice of keeping slaves in life bondage. There is
no indication that John Rogers, Sr., ever kept a slave, and many
indications to the contrary. His son John, however, kept slaves to
some extent, some of whom at least he freed for “faithful service”
(New London Records). Two able-bodied “servants,” are found in his
inventory.[177] His son James mentions a servant, “Rose,” in his
will of 1754. His son John, however, never kept a slave, and his
family were greatly opposed to that practice, by force of early
teaching. With the exceptions here noted, no proof appears of the
keeping of slaves among the early Rogerenes, although many of them
were in circumstances to indulge in that practice, which was
prevalent in their neighborhood. The date at which slavery was
denounced by the Rogerene Society does not appear.

Footnote 177:

Town records reveal one of these as a freeman, years after, in a
neighboring town, a respected colored man, with an exceptionally
lively family of children.

It is certain that the Rogerenes of Quakertown were not only among
the first to declare against the brutality of war and the sanction
it received from ministers and church members, but among the
foremost in the denunciation of slavery. Nor were there those
lacking on the New London side to join hands with their Groton
friends on these grounds. The churches of New London, in common with
others, would not listen to any meddling with slavery, partisanship
on which question would surely have divided those churches. The
Rogerenes saw no justifiable evasion, for Christians, of the rule to
love God and your fellowmen, to serve God and not Mammon, and to
leave the consequences with Him who gave the command.

At the period of the antislavery agitation, some of the descendants
of John Rogers and John Bolles on the New London side (no longer
called by the name of Rogerenes), and other sympathizers with those
of Quakertown, attended meetings in the upper chamber of the house
of many gables, and joined with them in antislavery and other
Rogerene sentiments, declarations and endeavors. Among these
visitors was William Bolles,[178] the enterprising book publisher of
New London (Part I., Chapter VII.), who had become an attendant upon
the services of the Baptist church of New London; but who withdrew
from such attendance after discovery that the minister and leading
members of that church expected those opposed to slavery to maintain
silence upon that subject. He published a paper in this cause, in
1838, called _The Ultimatum_, with the following heading:—



Footnote 178:

Great-grandson of John Rogers, 2d, and of John Bolles.

A few disconnected sentences (by way of brevity) selected from one
of the editorial columns of this sheet, will give some idea of its

It is with pleasure we make our second appearance before our
fellow citizens, especially when we remember the avidity with
which our first number was read, so that we were obliged to print
a second edition. Our sheet is the organ of no association of men
or body of men, but it is the friend of the oppressed and the
uncompromising enemy of all abuses in Church and State. Our
friends S. and J. must not be surprised that their communications
are not admitted—the language is too harsh, and partakes a little
too much of the denunciatory spirit for us. We care not how
severely sin is rebuked, but we would remind them that a rebuke is
severe in proportion as the spirit is kind and the language
courteous—our object is to conciliate and reform, not to

About the year 1850, several noted abolitionists came to New London
to hold a meeting. Rogerenes from Quakertown gathered with others to
hear the speeches. When the time for the meeting arrived, the use of
the court-house, which had previously been promised them, was
refused. In this dilemma, Mr. Bolles told the speakers they could go
to the burying-ground and there speak, standing upon his mother’s
grave. The meeting took place, but during its continuance the
speakers were pelted with rotten eggs.[179]

Footnote 179:

This information was furnished by a native of Quakertown who
attended this meeting—Mr. Ira Whipple, afterwards of Westerly.

Mr. Bolles often entertained at his house speakers in the abolition
cause. Such speakers were also entertained at Quakertown, where they
frequently held meetings when not allowed to speak elsewhere in the
region. The Rogerenes of this place also assisted in the escape of
fugitive slaves, Quakertown being, between 1830 and 1850, one of the
stations of the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves were brought
here, under cover of darkness, concealed in the meeting-house and
forwarded by night to the next station. For these daring deeds, the
Quakertown people were repeatedly mobbed and suffered losses.

Rogerenes were also among the first in the cause of temperance, nor
did they confine their temperance principles to the use of tobacco
and intoxicating liquors, but advocated temperance in eating as
well. Although never observing the fast days appointed by
ecclesiastical law, they made use of fasting with prayer, and fasted
for their physical as well as spiritual good, judging the highest
degree of mental or spiritual power not to be obtained by persons
who indulged in “fullness of bread.” (See “Answer to Mr. Byles,” by
Joseph Bolles, in _Appendix_.) The Rogerenes of Quakertown have been
and still are earnest advocates of temperance principles.

The isolation and exclusiveness of the Quakertown community in the
nineteenth century has already been noted as a distinct departure
from the liberal and outreaching policy of the early Rogerenes.
There was yet another departure, in regard to freedom of speech,
which culminated, about the middle of the nineteenth century, in a
division of this community into two opposing parties. At this date,
Elder Zephania Watrous was advanced in years; but he had been, and
still was, a man of great force of character, and was accounted a
rigid disciplinarian. Only a man of such type could have held this
community to its strictly exclusive policy for so long a period.

Free inquiry, with expression of individual views, was favored by
the Rogerenes from the first, and formed an important feature of
their meetings for study and exposition of gospel truths. Largely by
this very means were their youth trained to interest in, and
knowledge of, the Scriptures. Such freedom had been instituted by
the founder of the sect, with no restrictions save the boundary line
between liberty and license.[180]

Footnote 180:

In Mr. Bowna’s account of his conversation with John Rogers (1703)
he states that John Rogers said his Society “admitted any one who
wanted information concerning the meaning of any text to put the
question, and it was then expounded and spoken to as they
understood it; and one being admitted to show his dissent with his
reasons for it: ‘Thus,’ said he, ‘we improve our youth in
Scriptural knowledge.’ I asked him if they did not sometimes carry
their differences in sentiment too far, to their hurt? He
acknowledged there was danger in doing so, but they guarded
against it as much as they could.”

The elder did not favor free speech in the meetings of the Society;
he undoubtedly judged that such freedom would tend to disorder and
division. The sequel, however, proved that a Society which could be
held firmly together, for more than a hundred years, under a
remarkably liberal policy in this regard, could be seriously divided
under the policy of repression.

The feeling upon this point became so intense that public meetings
were held in Quakertown for full discussion of the subject pro and
con. These meetings excited wide interest, and were attended by many
persons from adjoining towns. The party for free speech won the
victory; but the division tended to weaken the little church, the
decline of which is said to date from that period.[181]

Footnote 181:

In his last sickness, Elder Zephania Watrous sent for the leader
of the party which had opposed his conservative views and asked
forgiveness for anything on his own part that might have seemed
unfriendly to his opponent.

For nearly two hundred years, New Testament doctrines as expounded
by John Rogers (in his writings) have been taught in Quakertown, and
the Bible studied and restudied anew, with no evasion or explaining
away of its apparent meanings. Morality has been taught not as a
separate code, but as a principal part of the religion of Jesus
Christ. Great prominence has been given to non-resistance and all
forms of application of the law of love.

Women were from the first encouraged to speak in Rogerene meetings,
the meetings referred to being those for exhortation, prayer and
praise. It will be seen (_Appendix_) that John Bolles wrote a
treatise in favor of allowing women to speak in such meetings. Mr.
Bownas also quotes John Rogers as saying that women were admitted to
speak in Rogerene meetings, “some of them being qualified by the
gift of the Spirit.”

Among the principles rigidly insisted upon in Quakertown are that
persons shall not be esteemed on account of wealth, learning or
position, but only for moral and religious characteristics; strict
following of the Golden Rule by governments as well as by
individuals, hence no going to war, or retaliatory punishments
(correction should be kindly and beneficent); no profane language,
or the taking of an oath under any circumstances; no voting for any
man having principles contrary to the teachings of the New
Testament; no set prayers in meetings, but dependence on the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit; no divorce except for fornication;
to suffer rather than to cause suffering. There has always been
great disapprobation of “hireling ministers.” None of the Rogerene
elders ever received payment for preaching or for pastoral work.

A gentleman who has been prominent in the Quakertown Society being
questioned, some years since, in regard to the lack of sympathy
between the Rogerenes and other denominations, gave the following
reasons for a state of feeling on both sides which is not wholly
absent even at the present day.

“The other churches considered cessation of work on Sunday to be a
part of the Christian religion, and to be forced upon all as such.
Many of their preachers were led into the ministry as a learned and
lucrative profession, with no spiritual call to preach, being
educated by men for that purpose. In many instances these preachers
were worldly-minded to a great extent. The churches believed in war
and in training men to kill their fellowmen. Ministers and church
members used liquor freely. Church members held slaves, and
ministers upheld the practice. For a long time the Rogerenes were
compelled to assist in the support of the Congregational church, to
which of all churches they were most opposed, on account of its
assumption of authority over others in the matter of religion. The
Rogerenes were fined for not attending the regular meetings, and
cruelly persecuted for not keeping sacred the ‘idol Sabbath’ so
strictly observed by other denominations. Although persecution has
ceased, prejudice still remains on both sides, partly inherited, as
it were, and partly the result of continued differences of opinion.”

At the present day, meetings in Quakertown are similar to Baptist or
Methodist conference meetings. The Lord’s Supper is observed once a
quarter. In the old times the Rogerenes held a feast once a year, in
imitation of the last passover with the disciples, at which time a
lamb was killed and eaten with unleavened bread. The Sunday service
consisted of preaching and exposition of Scripture, while prayers,
singing of hymns, relation of experience, etc., were reserved for
the evening meetings of the Society. The latter were meetings for
the professing Christians, while the Sunday meetings were public
meetings, where all were welcomed. It will be observed that this was
according to the apostolic practice, and not materially different
from the practice of other denominations at the present day.

If there was so decided an aversion to physicians on the part of the
early Rogerenes as has been represented, it has not come down to the
present time among the people of Quakertown, as have most of the
oldtime sentiments and customs; yet evidence is not lacking to prove
that their predecessors made use of faith and prayer in the healing
of disease, and that there have been cases of such healing in this
Society. One of the latter, within the memory of persons yet living,
was recounted to us by the gentleman to whom we have referred, upon
our inquiring of him if he had ever heard of any cures of this kind
in Quakertown. Pointing to a portrait on the wall, he said, “That
man was cured in a remarkable manner.” He then stated the
circumstances as follows:—

“He had been sick with dysentery, and was so low that his death was
momentarily expected; his wife had even taken out the clothes she
wished placed upon him after death. While he lay in this seemingly
last stage of the disease, he suddenly became able to speak, and
said, in a natural tone, to his wife: ‘Bring me my clothes.’ She
told him he was very ill and must not try to exert himself; but he
continued so urgent that, to pacify him, she brought the clothes he
usually wore. He at once arose, dressed himself and was apparently
well, and so continued. He said that, while he lay there in that
weak condition, he suddenly felt an invisible hand placed upon his
head and heard a voice saying: ‘Arise, my son, you are healed,’ upon
which he immediately felt a complete change, from extreme illness
and weakness to health and strength; hence his request to his wife.”

There are numerous traditions regarding the offering of prayers for
recovery by the bedsides of the sick, on the part of the early
elders of this community, who were sometimes desired to render this
service outside of their own Society, and readily complied.

That the founders of this community, both men and women, were
persons of no ordinary mental and physical vigor, is attested by the
excellent mental and physical condition of their descendants, after
generations of intermarriage within their own borders. At the
present day, it would puzzle an expert to calculate their
complicated relationships. In a visit to this locality, some years
since, we met two of the handsomest, brightest and sweetest old
ladies we ever beheld, each of whom had passed her eightieth year,
and each of whom bore the name of Esther (as did the wife of John
Waterhouse). Both were descendants of John Rogers, and of the first
settlers of Quakertown, several times over.[182] One of them told us
that her grandmother took a cap-border to meeting to hem in the time
of the great countermove, at which time and for which cause she was
whipped at the New London whipping-post; also that for chopping a
few sticks of wood in his back yard, on Sunday, a Quakertown man was
“dragged to New London prison.” This is but a hint of the traditions
that linger in this community regarding the days of persecution. The
other lady, a daughter of Elder Zephania Watrous, lived in the old
meeting-house, where she was born. In the room with this gentle and
comely old lady were five generations of the Watrous family, herself
the eldest, and a child of four or five years the youngest, all fair
representatives of Quakertown people; healthy, intelligent and

Footnote 182:

It is not to be inferred that no new families have come into
Quakertown, or that none of the people have married outside.
Accessions to this community have been not infrequent, both by
marriage and otherwise.

To a stranger in these parts, it is a wonder how the inhabitants
have maintained themselves in such an apparently sterile and rocky
region.[183] In fact, these people did not depend upon agriculture
for a livelihood. Although thus isolated, they were from the first
thrifty, ingenious and enterprising. The property of the first
settlers having been divided and subdivided among large families, it
was not long before their descendants must either desert their own
community or invent methods of bringing into Quakertown adequate
profits from without. Consequently, we find them, early in the
nineteenth century, selling, in neighboring towns, cloths, threads,
yarn and other commodities of their own manufacture. A large
proportion of the men learned trades and worked away from home
during the week. Many of them were stone-masons, a trade easily
learned in this rocky region, and one in which they became experts.
In later times, we find some of them extensively engaged in raising
small fruits, especially strawberries.

Footnote 183:

Quakertown is said not to be so rocky and sterile as it appears to
a person riding over the road, but to have a considerable amount
of good farming-land.

Although, with the decline of persecution, no new leader arose to
rank with those of the past, bright minds have not been lacking in
later days in this fast thinning community, which, like other remote
country places, has suffered by the emigration of its youth to more
promising fields of action.

Timothy Watrous, 2d, invented the first machine for cutting cold
iron into nails. He also made an entire dock himself.

Samuel Chapman, a descendant of John Rogers and John Waterhouse, is
said to have made and sailed the first steamship on the Mississippi.
He founded large iron-works in New Orleans. His son Nathan was one
of the founders of the Standard Iron Works of Mystic.

Jonathan Whipple, a descendant of John Rogers, having a deaf and
dumb son, conceived the idea of teaching him to speak and to
understand by the motion of the lips, by which method he soon spoke
sonorously and distinctly, and became a man of integrity and
cultivation. Zerah C. Whipple, a grandson of Jonathan, becoming
interested in this discovery, resolved to devote his life to its
perfection. He invented the Whipple Natural Alphabet, and with the
aid of his grandfather, Jonathan, founded The Home School for the
deaf and dumb, at Mystic.

Julia Crouch, author of “Three Successful Girls” (a descendant of
John Rogers and John Bolles), was a Rogerene of Quakertown.

Ida Whipple Benham, a well-known poet, and for many years an
efficient member of the Peace Society, was of Quakertown

Footnote 184:

The following is from a poem by Mrs. Benham, entitled “Peace.”

Where is the nation brave enough to say,
“I have no need of sword, or shield, or gun;
I will disarm before the world this day;
I will stand free, though lonely, ’neath the sun.

“I fear no foe, since I am friend to all;
I fear no evil, since I wish no harm;
I will not keep my soldier sons in thrall;
They shall be slaves no more—let them disarm!”

That State will stand upon the heights of time
Foremost in honor, bravest of the brave;
Girded with glory, radiant, sublime,
This shall her title be, “The strong to save!”

While other nations boast of arms or art,
She, ’lone of earth shall stand, the truly great!
Brave in forbearance, loftiness of heart,
The world shall see, in her, a Christian State.

Boast not your bravery, O, ye fearful ones,
Ye trembling nations armed with coward steel,
Who hide yourselves behind your conscript sons
And trample freedom with an iron heel!

Vaunt not your righteousness, nor dare to call
Yourselves by His high name, the Prince of Peace,
The holy Christ of God, Who died for all,
That love might reign and sin and sorrow cease.

My country! O, my country! strong and free,
Dare thou the godlike deed that waits thy hand.
Within thy walls wed Peace to Liberty—
Say to thy soldier sons, “Disarm! Disband!”

Set thou the step for Freedom’s stately march;
The Old World after thee shall fall in line.
Follow the pole star crowning heaven’s high arch,
The Star of Peace with radiance divine.

“All men are equal!” graved in lines of light,
Through storm and stress this motto doth not fail;
All men are brothers! set thy virgin might
To prove man’s brotherhood; thou shalt prevail.

Thou shalt prevail, my country, in the strength
Of Him who guides the spheres and lights the sun;
And joy shall reign through all thy breadth and length,
And thou shalt hear the gracious voice, “Well done!”

In recent years, the Rogerenes of Quakertown have given much
attention to the cause of peace and arbitration. The Universal Peace
Union having been established by the Quakers, soon after the
rebellion, the people of Quakertown invited members of that Society
to join them in holding a Peace Convention near Mystic, the most
suitable available point in the vicinity of Quakertown. Accordingly,
in August, 1868, the first of an unbroken series of yearly Peace
Meetings was held in an attractive grove on a hill by the Mystic
River. Including the invited guests, there were present forty-three
persons. The second meeting, in September, 1869, showed such an
increase of interest and attendance that the Connecticut Peace
Society was organized, as a branch of The Universal Peace Union, and
Jonathan Whipple of Quakertown was elected president. This venerable
man (to whom we have before referred), besides publishing and
circulating _The Bond of Peace_ (a paper advocating peace
principles), had long been active as a speaker and correspondent in
the cause so dear to his heart.

In 1871, James E. Whipple, of Quakertown, a young man of high moral
character, having refused from conscientious scruples to pay the
military tax imposed upon him, was arrested by the town authorities
of Ledyard and confined in the Norwich jail, where he remained
several weeks.

About the same time, Zerah C. Whipple, being called upon to pay a
military tax, refused to thus assist in upholding a system which he
believed to be anti-Christian and a relic of barbarous ages. He was
threatened with imprisonment; but some kindly disposed person,
interfering without his knowledge, paid the tax.

In 1872 a petition, signed by members of the Peace Society, was
presented to the legislature of Connecticut praying that body to
make such changes in the laws of the State as should be necessary to
secure the petitioners in the exercise of their conscientious
convictions in this regard. The petition was not granted; but the
subject excited no little interest and sympathy among some of the

In the summer of 1874, Zerah C. Whipple, still refusing to do what
his conscience forbade, was taken from his home by the tax collector
of Ledyard and placed in the New London jail. His arrest produced a
profound impression, he being widely known as the principal of the
school for teaching the dumb to speak, and also as a very honest,
high-souled man.

During his six week’s imprisonment, the young man appealed to the
prisoners to reform their modes of life, reproved them for vulgarity
and profanity, furnished them books to read, and began teaching
English to a Portuguese confined there. The jailer himself said, to
the commissioner, that although he regretted Mr. Whipple’s
confinement in jail on his own account, he should be sorry to have
him leave, as the men had been more quiet and easy to manage since
he had been with them. On the evening of the sixth day, an entire
stranger called at the jail and desired to know the amount of the
tax and costs, which he paid, saying he knew the worth of Mr.
Whipple, that his family for generations back had never paid the
military tax, and he wished to save the State the disgrace of
imprisoning a person guilty of no crime. This man was not a member
of the Peace Society. Mr. Whipple afterwards learned that his arrest
was illegal, the laws of the State providing that where property is
tendered, or can be found, the person shall be unmolested. The
authorities of Groton did not compel the payment of this tax by
persons conscientiously opposed to it.

In 1872, _The Bond of Peace_ was removed to Quakertown and its name
changed to _The Voice of Peace_. Zerah C. Whipple undertook its
publication and continued it until 1874, when it was transferred to
a committee of The Universal Peace Union. It is now published in
Philadelphia as the official organ of that Society, under the title
of _The Peacemaker_.

The call of Mrs. Julia Ward Howe for a woman’s Peace Society was
heartily responded to by the Connecticut Peace Society, and the 2d
of June was for years celebrated, by appropriate exercises, as
Mother’s Day.

The annual grove meeting increased rapidly in attendance and
interest. The number present at the tenth meeting was estimated at
2,500. In 1875, it was decided to prolong the time of the convention
to a second day’s session, and the two day’s session was attended
with unabated interest.

Jonathan Whipple, first president of the Connecticut Peace Society,
died in March, 1875. Shortly before the end, he was heard to say:
“Blessed are the peacemakers; but there has been no blessing
promised to warriors.”

The grove meeting is now held three days annually. It is the largest
gathering of the kind in the world. The large tent used at first was
replaced some years since by a commodious wooden structure, which is
the property of the Universal Peace Union.

From the first, some of the most noted speakers on peace and kindred
topics have occupied the platform, among them Belva Lockwood, Mary
A. Livermore, Julia Ward Howe, Aaron M. Powell, Rowland B. Howard,
Robert T. Paine, Delia S. Parnell, George T. Angell, H. L. Hastings,
William Lloyd Garrison, etc. The Hutchinson family used frequently
to sing at these meetings. The only one now remaining of that gifted
choir, a gentleman as venerably beautiful as any bard of ancient
times, has, in recent summers, favored the audience in the grove
with several sweet songs appropriate to the occasion.

It is said that the winding road leading about Quakertown is in the
shape of a horseshoe. May this be an omen of honors yet to come to
this little battlefield, where an isolated, despised, yet
all-devoted band have striven for nearly two centuries to be true to
the pure and simple precepts of the New Testament as taught them by
sufferers for obedience to those truths, beside many a fireside
where tales of woes for past endeavors, mingled with prayers for
future victories, have nerved young hearts to the old-time
endurance, for His name’s sake.

Many are the noble men and women who, from first to last, have been
content to live and die in this obscure locality, unhonored by the
world and sharing not its luxuries or pleasures, consoled by the
promises of the New Testament: promises which are not to the rich
and honored (as such), but chiefly to those who for obedience to the
teachings of this Word are outcast and despised, poor and unlearned,
and even, if need be, persecuted and slain.

Not because that good man, Jonathan Whipple, was more conscientious
or talented than many another of the Rogerenes of this locality, but
because he was a good specimen of the kind of men that have from
time to time been reared in this Society, there is given in the
following note[185] an abstract from a published account of his
life, a copy of which was forwarded to us by his daughter, Mrs.
Whaley, in 1893. In the letter containing this enclosure she said:
“I hope that justice will at length be done our so long
misunderstood and misrepresented people.”

Footnote 185:

Jonathan Whipple was born in 1794. He never attended school, but
it was not from lack of inclination, for he most ardently desired
an education. The reader from which his mother taught him his
letters he learned so thoroughly that he could repeat it verbatim.
In arithmetic he had no instruction further than the fundamental
rules, but while he was yet a boy he learned enough of numbers to
answer for ordinary occasions. His father set him his first copies
in writing, but he improved so rapidly that he soon needed better
instruction and got neighboring school-teachers to write copies
for him. Ere many years had elapsed, he had no need of copies,
since he ranked in penmanship among the first.

Although Mr. Whipple was a hard-working mason, he so much felt the
need of more education than he possessed, that, after he had
married and settled down in life, he set about informing himself
more thoroughly than his previous opportunities had allowed. He so
far qualified himself, that he was employed several terms to teach
a school of over seventy pupils. In point of discipline and
promptness of education his school ranked first in town.

He contributed many articles to various papers, touching on the
great topics before the public. The temperance cause received his
hearty support, for he was a total abstinence man, at a time when
even the most respectable men regularly took their “grog.”

He was an abolitionist of the most radical type long before the
names of Garrison and Phillips were known in the land.

As an advocate for universal peace, he was found among the
pioneers in the cause. In short, he was a philanthropist in the
broadest and truest sense of the word; he labored all his life for
the good of his fellow-creatures. He was kind and generous; was
never engaged in a law-suit in his life, and spent more time with
the sick than any other non-professional man of our acquaintance.
In the summer of 1820 the typhoid fever raged in his neighborhood;
he spent his whole time, without a thought of reward, among the

His blameless and useful life made him respected and beloved
wherever he was known.

The fame, however, that he acquired was chiefly due to his
remarkable success in teaching the deaf to talk.

When the youngest of his five children was old enough to walk, he
noticed that, although the boy seemed active and intelligent, he
made no effort to speak. The discovery that his little Enoch was
actually deaf, was a trial which seemed greater than he could
endure. To think that this (his youngest) son must be forever shut
out of the world of sound and doomed to endless silence was
unendurable. After many fruitless trials to make the boy hear and
repeat what he heard, the father gave it up as useless.

Mr. Whipple had never heard of the schools in Europe where the
deaf are taught articulation and lip-reading; but, at length,
noticing that Enoch would sometimes attempt to repeat a word, if
he was looking directly at the speaker’s mouth, the thought
occurred to the father that perhaps every word had a shape, and
that by learning the shape of each letter, as moulded by the
mouth, the boy might be taught to imitate it. The task was begun.
Every moment Mr. Whipple could spare,—for he was a poor man, and
besides his own family there were some orphan children depending
upon him,—he devoted to teaching his little son. It was
astonishing what progress was made. Other members of the family
also acted as teachers, and as Enoch grew towards manhood, he was
not merely on par with his associates, but acknowledged by all to
be a superior youth. He could read, could write a nice hand, and
for deciphering poor penmanship there was scarcely his equal for
miles around. He could also talk. To such perfection was his
instruction carried by his energetic father that this deaf man has
done business with strangers, bought goods of merchants, etc., and
has gone away without leaving a suspicion of his infirmity.

As has been seen, the efforts of Mr. Whipple did not end with
teaching his own son. He made many successful experiments with
other deaf mutes, which led to the founding of The Home School for
the deaf at Mystic.

After Jonathan Whipple had passed his seventieth year, his
faculties remained unimpaired, and he was as indefatigable in his
efforts to improve the condition of the afflicted as when his
theory was first put in practice. His life was a useful and
beautiful one; not a struggle to gain wealth or to win fame; but
simply to do good. His declining years were cheered by the
knowledge that he had wronged none and bettered many.—_Abstract
from Life of Jonathan Whipple in “Men of Mark.”_

Presentation of facts belongs to the historian; but the effect and
uses of the information thus afforded is for the reader. We have
collected and set in order such attested facts as we have been able
to discover relative to the history of the Rogerenes, of which sect
the people of Quakertown are the only distinct representatives of
the present day.

* * * * *

If at the end of this history it should be asked: “How can the
Rogerene sect be described in briefest terms?” we reply:—

“The doctrines and customs of this sect were patterned as closely as
possible after the early church of the Gentiles, instituted under
apostolic effort and direction; hence it included the evangelical
portions and excluded the unevangelical portions of the doctrines
and customs of every sect known to Christendom. Should a new sect be
brought into existence on strictly evangelical lines, it would, to
all intents and purposes, be the same as the Rogerene Society.” It
is evident, however, that a marked feature of the Rogerene sect
would be lacking to such a church in modern times, viz., the
constant need of withstanding ecclesiastical laws whose unimpeded
sway would have prevented the existence of any truly evangelical
church. It is easy to perceive that the growth of such a spirit of
close adherence to New Testament teachings as animated the Rogerenes
would tend to the obliteration of sects.

Should the churches of Christendom ever awake to the fact that not
one of them but has made and countenanced signal departures from the
teachings of Christ and his apostles, both in principles and modes,
and that their differences one from the other are founded upon
variations from the first divinely instituted church, and should
they, on thus awakening, join hands, in council assembled, with the
purpose of uniting in one church of the apostolic model, fully
devoted to the cause of peace on earth and good will to men, then
would dawn the millennium.

It is plain that John Rogers had faith in the people at large for
the realization of such a church universal, could adequate
leadership be procured. He believed that of existing societies of
the evangelical order having in his day a fair start, that of the
Quakers (by its peace principles and dependence on the Holy Spirit)
was best fitted to take the lead. For such an end he had urged upon
that Society the instituting among them the ordinances of Baptism
and the Lord’s Supper, which they had rejected, and he expressed his
opinion forcibly when he said to Mr. Bownas in 1703 that if the
Quakers would take those two ordinances they could “carry all before
them.” (As quoted by Mr. Bownas.)

Mr. J. R. Bolles has aptly compared the falsehoods sown by the
author of “The Prey Taken from the Strong,” to dragon’s teeth
constantly springing up anew (Part I, Chapter I). When Peter Pratt
wrote the book thus entitled, he was evidently stimulated and
encouraged by the ecclesiastical demand for such a publication, and
trusted that lack of correct information on the part of the general
public would secure credence for it. The falsities evident in the
work, through its contradictions in one part of statements made in
another, must have been due either to lack of careful observation on
the part of the writer or to his confidence of such lack on the part
of the public to whom it was addressed.

There was an evident personal object in this deliberate attempt to
malign the character of John Rogers three years after his death; by
statements which Peter Pratt of all men knew to be false; he having
himself been a Rogerene, closely allied and attached to one of the
leaders of that Society. Having since become a prominent member of
the ruling church, and intimate with leading ecclesiastics of that
church, in what better way could he prove to his influential friends
his regret at having been associated with the hated nonconformist
than by lending himself to the ruling order in their endeavors to
stamp out whatever respect for and interest in the Rogerenes and
their cause had found lodgement in the minds of the public?

On the ecclesiastical side, who could address the public with better
chance of being heard and credited than a popular lawyer, known to
have had intimate acquaintance with the obnoxious sect? For despite
the blunder in regard to computation of longitude (Part I, Chapter
IV), Peter Pratt was a man of considerable note in Connecticut, both
as a lawyer and speaker, at the time he wrote this singular book.
Joshua Hempstead says in his Diary: “Nov. 25, 1730. Melancholy news
of the death of Mr. Peter Pratt of ys Town,[186] Attorney at Law, is
confirmed, who died at Hartford on Saturday last,—the finest Orator
in the Colony of his Profession.”

Footnote 186:

Peter Pratt appears to have lived in East Lyme, then a part of New

The literary ability of this man is shown to be far below that
ascribed to his oratory, the style of this sole book of his
authorship being very ordinary; while the reply of his half-brother
John Rogers, 2d, as well as other works of that author, will bear
comparison with some of the best works of his time, for clear,
vigorous logic and expression, enlivened by sparkles of wit and
acumen, which qualifies are not observable in the literary effort of
this other son of his mother.

The principal point to be secured being an impeachment of the
character of John Rogers, free use is made by Peter Pratt of the
accusation presented by the Griswolds in the petition for divorce,
by way of declaring that the separation of John Rogers from his wife
and children was on account of certain immoralities charged against
him, which pretended immoralities Peter Pratt names, on no other
authority than the entirely ambiguous statements of the records of
the General Court regarding the Petition of Elizabeth in 1675, which
Petition (according to said records) distinctly stated that the
chief reason of her plea did not relate to breach of the marriage
covenant, of which she admitted that she had small reason to

The exact charges manufactured by the Griswolds under the head of
“Breach of Covenant” may be found in the bill of damages still to be
seen in the Connecticut State Library (see Chapter II), which bill
was brought against John Rogers by Matthew Griswold during the trial
for divorce, and in which is no imputation regarding the moral
character of John Rogers. Peter Pratt, although avowing familiarity
with these records, declares a serious breach of the marriage
covenant to be one of the chief causes for this separation; while he
does not in any sort intimate to the reader that the charge brought
forward for the divorce related—as he well knew—to a period before
marriage, and to some fault known only to John Rogers himself, until
he divulged the same to his wife.

Peter Pratt also states that John Rogers owned out of court to the
charge against him, and that the person intrusted with that
confidence gave this evidence against him, for proof of which
statement the reader is referred to files of the General Court.
Evidently Peter Pratt did not expect any of his readers to consult
said files; for although it is to this day on the files of that
court that John Rogers was said to have owned out of court to the
charge against him, it is stated in the same connection that the man
who avowed this confidence on the part of John Rogers, upon being
asked the time and place of the confession, gave such reply that
John Rogers was able to prove an _alibi_.

The one other opportunity improved by Peter Pratt for an attack upon
the moral character of John Rogers, is in regard to his marriage
with Mary Ransford, twenty-five years after the charge made for the
purpose of obtaining the divorce. In his account of this marriage,
he not only falsifies and vulgarizes the circumstances in a very
singular manner, but, while in one place he represents the marriage
to Mary to have been less of choice than necessity, in another place
he avers that he himself was, at the very time of this marriage, on
friendly and intimate terms with John Rogers, and so continued, to
the extreme of actual discipleship, for years after that marriage.

It would seem that any careful and intelligent reader of “The Prey
Taken from the Strong,” however prejudiced, could but note this
singular inconsistency,—that Peter Pratt, while knowing to any such
irregularity as he claims on the part of John Rogers, should, at
that very time, have taken him as a spiritual guide, and continued,
for years after, under his leadership. The readers of that day, in
that locality, must have known that Peter Pratt’s connection with
the Rogerene Society was at a date following the marriage to Mary
Ransford, which latter occurred in 1699, while his own declaration
that when he was imprisoned with other Rogerenes in that cause he
had a young wife at home, fixes the date of this imprisonment as
late as 1709, which was the year of his marriage.

In order to appear to substantiate his calumnious intimations, Peter
Pratt states that, to the best of his recollection, the first child
of Mary Ransford was born “three or four months” after the ceremony
before the County Court. He also states that she was complained of
by the court on the birth of this child. As a lawyer in this town,
he dwelt, so to speak, among the court records, and could easily
have found the date of this child’s birth, had he intended to make a
truthful statement. The County Court record still remains distinct
and easily to be found, which says that this child was born in
January, 1700, exactly seven months after the marriage of John
Rogers to Mary Ransford, and, as stated by John Rogers, 2d, “within
the time allowed by law.” It was born at the date at which John
Rogers, 2d, brought his bride to Mamacock, to the great annoyance
and irritation of Mary. It is well known that less disturbances than
this have often hastened the birth of a child. Proof is evident that
neither John Bolles, nor any other of the highly honorable friends
and neighbors of John Rogers, who had the very best opportunity of
knowing the facts of the case, showed the slightest diminution of
allegiance to him at this date, and quite as evident that Peter
Pratt himself continued right on to full discipleship.

The two chief calumnies in this work of Peter Pratt having been
presented, attention is now called to two of a different character.

I saw him once brought into court,—he had contrived the matter so
as to be just without the door when he was called to answer. His
features and gestures expressed more fury than I ever saw in a
distracted person of any sort, and I soberly think that if a
legion of devils had pushed him in headlong, his entrance had not
been more horrid and ghastly, nor have seemed more preternatural.

John Roger’s declaration that the indictment was a lie is brought
out in similar style, also the exclamations of other Rogerenes
present in the court-room.

This plainly refers to the trial before the County Court in
November, 1719, when John Rogers is said (by court records) to have
come into court “in a violent manner,” etc., and, when the
indictment was read, to have exclaimed that it was “a devilish ly”
(see Chapter IX), for which contempt of court he was fined only
twenty shillings, which nominal sum was never collected. Taking into
consideration the evident sympathy of the jury on this occasion of
“violent entrance,” etc., and the great ease with which Peter Pratt
is proven capable of misstating and exaggerating facts, the reader
will admit the probability that this entrance of John Rogers into
the court-room, and his words there spoken, together with those of
his followers, were neither more nor less than impassioned
expressions of indignation and protest regarding the terrible
cruelty to which the wife of John Bolles was then being subjected.
She was, as will be remembered, at that moment lying in a critical
condition in New London prison, where the death of her child had
just occurred. Peter Pratt, then present in that court-room, by his
own avowal, knew all of these facts, and knew also that the life of
this woman was saved only by such determined efforts at full
publicity on the part of the Rogerenes and their sympathizers. Yet
he utterly conceals these circumstances from the reader, while he
exaggerates the Rogerene protests, and represents them as being
simply senseless and grotesque.

It is from this description by Peter Pratt that historians have
borrowed their statements regarding the loud voice of John Rogers,
and that Rogerenes were accustomed to charge dignitaries with lying,

Footnote 187:

To this statement of Peter Pratt is traceable the following from
Miss Caulkins: “Suppose at the present day a man like Rogers
should enter, etc., accompanying all this with violent
contortions, coarse expletives, and foaming at the mouth, would it
not require great forbearance,” etc.

Nothing was more foreign to the teachings of John Rogers and his
followers, or more abhorred by Rogerenes in general—as will be
readily attested by those familiar with their principles—than any
vulgarity, or even ordinary coarseness, of speech or manner.

Miss Caulkins also states (“History of Norwich”) that John Rogers
accosted Dr. Lord (over one hundred years before) in a very loud
voice, asking him if they wore wigs in heaven, giving her story
from “tradition.” This is evidently a mixture of the Peter Pratt
court scene, and the contribution of the wig to Mr. Saltonstall.

The singularly false and indecent statements made by Peter Pratt—in
regard to the divorce of John Rogers and the marriage to Mary
Ransford—and his exaggerated description of the scene in the
court-room, form almost the entire portion of the account of the
Rogerenes contained in Trumbull’s “History of Connecticut,” which is
the standard history (first published, 1818) from which, as has been
said, later historians have derived their ideas and representations
in regard to this sect.

Of the many lesser aspersions cast by Peter Pratt upon the character
and teachings of John Rogers, one of the most astonishing (seeing
that Peter Pratt himself refutes it) is to the effect that John
Rogers held that “a man dies even as a dog.” In another place he
says John Rogers “held both to the resurrection and the day of
judgment, although doubted whether the body to be raised would be
the same that fell, yet owned it would have the same consciousness.”

The author guilty of the above (and many another)
self-contradiction, says of the writings of John Rogers: “For that
they are so perplexed and ambiguous, that he that will attend the
rules of reason and speech can prove scarcely anything of the chief
articles of his faith by his books.”

Careful perusal of the many extant writings of John Rogers will
prove to any candid person that they are written in the clearest
manner, having in them nothing which cannot be understood by the
most ordinary reader. Peter Pratt, being unable to quote from these
writings anything that could substantiate his statements concerning
them, had need to manufacture some excuse for such omission of

It would be exceedingly difficult, if not wholly impossible, to find
another book from which historians have condescended to quote which
contains so many contradictions in itself, so many utterly and
needlessly vulgar expressions, and so many easily proven falsehoods,
as does this calumnious work of Peter Pratt. The favor it received
in ecclesiastical quarters is proof that there was almost no device,
however underhanded, of which the enemies of the Rogerenes would not
stoop to avail themselves in branding this daring opponent of
ecclesiastical rule.

Yet Peter Pratt’s baldly dishonest account is not the only source of
Rogerene calumny.

Backus, among others, in his “History of the Baptists,” makes the
statement that the Rogerenes were a sect whose practice it was to
take work into meeting-houses. The Rogerenes were a sect nearly a
century before 1764, when they first took work into a meeting-house,
and have been a sect more than one hundred years since 1766, when
they ceased to take work into a meeting-house, making in reality
less than two years, of their more than two hundred years of
existence, in which they (their women), in defence of their Society,
took work into a meeting-house.

The same historian asserts that it was their regular practice to
enter the churches and interrupt the ministers, although it would
have been evident, upon careful examination of the case, that they
never entered any church in this manner except under stress of
bitter persecution, and that, as a non-resistant people, they had in
such emergencies no other efficient means of defence.

Historians have generally stated that the Rogerenes imitated the
Quakers in dress and speech, apparently on no further evidence than
that the name of Quakers had become attached to them.

That the Rogerenes did not imitate the Quakers in speech is shown by
the testimony of those of their descendants most likely to be well
informed in regard to the early customs of their people. That they
did not imitate the Quakers in dress is proven by their inventories,
which show the usual style of dress, wherever the wardrobe is

In the countermove of 1764-66, the men kept on their hats in the
Congregational meeting-house. John Crandall and other early members
of the First Baptist church in Newport had no affinity or sympathy
with the Quakers; yet, when attending service in a Congregational
church, they kept on their hats, in token of dissent.

Historians inform us that the Rogerenes did not employ physicians,
surgeons, or midwives, or make use of remedies in sickness,
depending wholly upon the prayer of faith. As has been fully shown,
the Rogerenes did not feel authorized to neglect any New Testament
injunction; they undoubtedly believed in healing by the prayer of
faith; yet, being a logical and discriminating people, they
perceived that the prayer of faith is often a remedy most difficult
to procure at a moment’s notice, and that other modes of relief
obtainable, in absence of this superior agency, are not to be
despised. As opposed to statements that the Rogerenes had nothing to
do with remedies, we have evidence that they were very attentive to
the sick, which presumes aid of various kinds. They appear not to
have disapproved of natural, ordinary means of restoration and
alleviation. A striking proof is furnished in the description given
by John Rogers of his illness, through cold and neglect, in the
inner prison. On this occasion, we do not find his son standing by
the prison window praying, though this son is a Rogerene of the
Rogerenes; but we find him running out into the streets, crying
loudly for help, and when help comes, in the form of hot stones,
wine and cordial, as well as speedy removal to warm quarters, there
is no indication of any lack of ready acceptance of these means of
restoration. We find afterwards a grateful acknowledgment by John
Rogers himself to Mr. Adams and wife for the wine and cordial.

Remarkable cases of divine healing appear to have occurred in this
Society at an early date. The account given of the healing of a
later day Rogerene in Quakertown (Chapter XIII) indicates that this
was a result of faith, through teachings and experiences that had
been in operation long before this man’s day, descending from the
first headers through intervening generations. The bringing of their
sick, by the Rogerenes of New Jersey, to the “holy men” from
Ephrata, to be healed, is also indicative of former experiences that
had strengthened their faith even to a point like this.

As for surgery, there is no reason to suppose that the Rogerenes did
not use the ordinary methods for a cut finger and for more serious
wounds. These people must have had broken bones, yet we hear of none
lame among them, except one who was “born lame.” They had no New
Testament directions regarding surgical cases. As for midwives, the
size of their families of children by one mother prove that,
whatever their mode, mothers and babes thrived to a very uncommon
degree. We hear nothing of the prayer of faith in such cases, except
in unauthenticated statements of “historians.” There is abundance of
traditional evidence that the Rogerenes were trained in the care of
the sick, not only that they need not call for aid from without, but
that they might assist in ministering to others.

The fact that it is appointed to all men once to die, of itself
precludes the possibility of continual and invariable healing, even
by the prayer of faith. But to suppose that such prayer is not as
efficient as human remedies, is to declare incredible certain
passages of Scripture which are as authentic as any other portion of
the New Testament. Thus reasoned the Rogerenes.

While referring to Backus, we will note a statement made by him to
the effect that some of the Rogerene youth having put an end to
their own lives, this was a cause of the decline of their Society.
Here is a curious dragon’s tooth, and it is difficult to see how it
was manufactured. Suffice it to say that, in extensive historical
and genealogical researches for the purposes of this history (and in
researches by the authors of the Rogers and the Bolles Genealogies,
both of which works largely include allied families), there has been
found but one instance of suicide among the Rogerenes, and this was
that of a young man who took his own life while under the influence
of melancholia which came upon him during a period of religious
revival. This young man was not of Rogers descent. There was,
however, in New London, at a somewhat later date, a young man of
Rogers and Rogerene descent, who became hopelessly insane. Because
of the devotion of his mother to a church in New London he was
brought up in that church. It is said that he was a very bright and
promising youth, and that no cause could be assigned to his
derangement other than excitement induced by a revival in that
church. This is mentioned to show that such instances are not
confined to any denomination.

Backus also says that “as late as 1763” some Rogerenes “clapped
shingles and pieces of wood together around the meeting-house” in
Norwich. Since he gives no authority for this statement, it is
likely to be one of the many fabrications imposed upon the public as
“history.” If any such thing occurred, it was doubtless a Rogerene
warning to that church to desist certain meddling or persecutions.
It will not only be remembered that the date given is during the
height of the persecution that induced the great countermove, but
that from the Norwich church had issued those who apprehended and
scourged the party of Rogerenes on their way to Lebanon.[188] Mr.
Backus, with the real or assumed lack of perception common to
ecclesiastical historians when treating upon the Rogerenes, adds
that “the rulers having learned so much wisdom as only to remove
these people from disturbing others, without fines or corporeal
punishment,” they had ceased from such things in a great measure. It
would have been contrary to the inclination of such writers to
perceive that the Rogerenes disturbed no one but in defense of the
truth for which they stood, and that when persecution on account of
their own religion ceased, they had no further need to disturb the
religious observances of others.

Footnote 188:

J. Backus, the justice who apprehended and scourged the Lebanon
party in 1725, appears to have been grandfather of the historian
of the Baptists.

Barber, in his “Historical Collections of New Jersey,” states that
there is a tradition to the effect that, about eighty years before
the date of the writing (which would give us the date of the great
countermove at New London), some of the Rogerenes of Schooley’s
Mountain came into a neighboring meeting-house, bringing work and
interrupting the minister. The latter statement is couched in the
very words used by Miss Caulkins concerning the New London
countermove of 1764-66, indicating the exact origin of this New
Jersey “tradition,” which is simply in line with the erroneous
accounts of historians in general—derived from repetitions and
alterations of statements concerning the New London movement—which
represent the Rogerenes as always and everywhere taking work into
meeting-houses and interrupting the ministers.

Could any such disturbance be proven in regard to the Rogerenes of
New Jersey, it would show—as a known effect of a certain cause—that
they had been subjected to unbearable annoyances from members of
that church, on account of their own religious persuasion, and took
that method to check their enemies. But no proof of any such New
Jersey molestation or defense has been presented.

Rev. Mr. Field, in his “Bi-centennial Discourse,” says the Rogerenes
did not believe in the Sabbath “nor in public worship,” whereas,
from the first they held as regular public meetings as any of their
neighbors. Their meetings were open to friends and enemies alike,
even to Mr. Saltonstall and his fellow-conspirators. They had,
moreover, a regular organization with record books and clerk, proof
of which is still extant in Quakertown, by a book of records written
by said clerk. This erroneous statement regarding public meetings is
doubtless derived from the fact that the Rogerenes, in opposition to
the ecclesiastical law against meetings in private houses, persisted
in holding meetings in such houses, and also to the fact that the
Rogerenes held evening meetings for prayer, praise, and testimony,
which were particularly for believers.[189]

Footnote 189:

At that date the Congregationalists did not hold prayer-meetings,
or any evening services. They had, however, a religious “lecture”
on Friday afternoons.

There remain but two more principal fangs to be dealt with. One of
these is a fossil which was recently revived by Mr. Blake, minister
of the “First Church of Christ, of New London;” while the other is
quite a new production, which the same estimable gentleman himself
manufactured and circulated, through a natural desire not to be
behind other ministers and historians of that church, in endeavoring
to perpetuate the odium cast upon those who are reputed to have
suffered strange things from some of its members in times past.

The first of these statements is that it was the custom of the
Rogerenes to marry without a lawful ceremony, upon which Mr. Blake
undertakes to give a description of their manner of marrying, which
description is modelled after a familiar anecdote,—combined with a
current statement founded on the same anecdote, to the effect that
the marriage of John Rogers to Mary Ransford was a ceremony invented
for the Rogerene sect by its leader, regardless of the known fact
(“History of New London”) that upon his third marriage the
intentions were regularly published in New London and the ceremony
performed by a justice in Rhode Island. It may be seen by New London
records that his son John, two years after the death of his father,
was married by the Rev. Mr. Woodbridge, pastor of the Congregational
church of Groton. Mr. John Bolles, the noted Rogerene leader, was
married to his second wife, in 1736, by Mr. Joshua Hempstead,
justice of the peace, John Rogers, 2d, taking Mr. Hempstead and Mr.
Bolles over the river for that purpose. (“Hempstead Diary.”)

The New London town and church records and the “Hempstead Diary”
bear full evidence that the Rogerenes of New London were married by
the regular ministers or by justices of the peace, after a regular

At a comparatively late date it appears that some of the Rogerenes
prefer to have their marriages solemnized in their own public
religious meetings on Sunday, in Quaker fashion, a form allowable by
law, under condition that the marriage intentions be regularly
published. The first marriage of this kind which has been discovered
was recorded in 1764, by Joseph Bolles, clerk of the Rogerene
Society, in a church book.

By the will of Joseph Bolles (1785), it is shown that he left a
chest of Rogerene books and papers to Timothy Waterhouse of Groton.
The latter probably succeeded Joseph Bolles as clerk of the Society;
hence a remnant of this church book is in the Watrous family, and
from it was copied the following:—

At our public meeting in New London the 17th of the 6th month,
1764, Joseph Bolles was appointed clerk for our Society, to write,

* * * * *

This may certify all persons whom it may concern, that I, Timothy
Walterhouse[190], do take thee, Content Whipple, to be my lawful,
wedded wife, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in
sickness and in health, and I promise to perform to thee all the
duties of a husband according to the Scriptures, while death shall
separate us.

And I, Content Whipple, do take thee, Timothy Walterhouse, to be
my lawful, wedded husband, for better or for worse, for richer or
for poorer, in sickness and in health, and I promise to perform to
thee all the duties of a wife according to the Scriptures, while
death shall separate us.


The above named couple have been lawfully published, and now at
our public meeting in New London, the seventeenth day of the sixth
month, 1764, they both acknowledged and signed this paper, after
they heard it read. Thus they are man and wife, married, according
to the laws of God, in our presence.


Among the various marriages in this church book are two well-known
New London Rogerenes,—Thomas Turner and Enoch Bolles (son of John).
Both of these are second marriages and the brides of Quakertown
affinity, one of them (bride of Thomas Turner) being widow of John
Waterhouse, 2d. John Waterhouse, 2d, lived in New London at, or
near, Quaker Hill.

Footnote 190:

The original name appears to have been Walterhouse, contracted
first to Waterhouse and then to Watrous.

By 1811, we find the paper to be signed reading as follows:—

GROTON, _August 4, 1811._

These lines certify all people whom they may concern that I,
William Waterous, and I, Clarissa Cushman, both of said Groton,
are joined together in a lawful covenant of marriage, not to be
separated until God who hath joined us together shall separate us
by death, and furthermore it is enjoined on us that we perform the
duty due to each other as the Scripture doth teach.


_In presence of_


Copies of these and other records were furnished us by Mr. Jabez
Watrous of Quakertown.

These marriages were, with the exceptions noted, of Rogerenes on the
Groton side, although the public meetings in which the earlier ones
were solemnized were held in New London, and most of the witnesses
were of New London. The New London Rogerenes continued to be married
by regular ministers or justices of the peace. Thus early, we find
an exclusiveness on the part of the Groton Rogerenes not
discoverable among those of New London. Yet all of the Rogerenes
considered marriage a strictly religious ceremony, consisting of
vows taken before God and not to be annulled save for the one cause
stated in the New Testament, while all know for how comparatively
slight causes marriages in other denominations have been set aside.
By the Quakertown method, the parties took each other for husband
and wife in the presence of their “elder” and the assembled
congregation; the elder did not pronounce them man and wife, they
having taken each other before God; but the marriage was recorded in
the church book, with names of several witnesses attached. We find
certificates of these marriages both on the New London and Groton
town records, further showing their legal character. Among them the

GROTON, _July 29, 1821_.

Personally appeared John Crouch and Rachel Watrous, both of
Groton, and were married in presence of me


Where the antique marriage anecdote to which reference has been made
originated, or to what persons it was first applied, is a matter of
uncertainty; but, as it has frequently been attached to others
besides Rogerenes, it is likely to have originated in quite
different quarters. It appears to have become attached to the
Rogerenes through the fallacious notions previously mentioned. Even
the talented and scholarly author of the Bolles Genealogy (Gen. J.
A. Bolles) was misled by this anecdote, together with the current
statement in regard to lack of marriage ceremony among the
Rogerenes, and also by his failure to find a record of the marriage
of Joseph Bolles.[191]

Footnote 191:

Mr. Bolles also said that he could not find a record of the birth
or marriage of Joseph Bolles, Jr., on the town records, but we had
no difficulty in finding both of the latter upon those records;
and by close study of the New London records, we can affirm that
no families of New London were better represented by careful entry
of family records than were the Rogerenes, especially the Rogers
and Bolles families.

The following clause in the deed by which John Rogers, 2d, set
apart a burying-place for his descendants of itself sufficiently
indicates the attitude of the Rogerenes regarding the sanctity and
legal form of marriage:—

“I do give, grant, convey and confirm unto them my afores^d Sons
and to all the Children that are or may be born unto my afores^d
Sons or either of them _in Wedlock lawfully begotten_,” etc.

The most careful research and inquiry have failed to discover a
single child born out of wedlock in this Society during the
hundred years of its distinct existence. Joseph Bolles shows that
there were some candid people among their enemies in his day, when
he says: “Also the observers of this pretended Sabbath do allow
that there is more immorality amongst themselves than there is
among us who do not observe it.”

Marriage publications were not entered upon New London records; but
the publication of Joseph Bolles and Martha Lewis, in the
Congregational church, in 1731, is plainly recorded in the
“Hempstead Diary.” Mr. J. A. Bolles had no knowledge of the
existence of this Diary.

The anecdote which Mr. J. A. Bolles judged too good to be spoiled
for the sake of relationship, yet of which he said: “The story has
been told of so many that I doubt its authenticity,” has had so many
versions, even as attached to the Rogerenes, that it cannot well be
presented in this connection without laying before the reader
several of the Rogerene versions that have become current. Space is
given for these the more readily, because this is a good
illustration of the scurrilous stories that have been told regarding
this greatly abused sect.


_Version No. I._ (_From the Half-Century Sermon of Rev. Abel M.
McEwen, 1857._)

Among the idols which it was the mission of these fanatics to
demolish, was the Congregational ceremony of marriage. One of
their sturdy zealots, a widower of middle age, announced his
intention to take for his wife, without any formality of marriage,
a widow in the neighborhood. Mr. Saltonstall remonstrated against
the design of the man, but he stoutly maintained and declared his
purpose. The clergyman, seeing him enter the house of his
intended, also went in that he might see them together. “You,
sir,” said he to the man, “will not disgrace yourself and the
neighborhood by taking this woman for your wife without marriage?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I will.” “But you, madam,” said the wily
watchman, “will not consent to become his wife in this improper
manner?” “Yes,” said she, “I do.” “Then,” said he, “I pronounce
you husband and wife; and I shall record your marriage in the
records of the church.”

The marriage records of the Congregational church, all of which are
extant, give no record of any such Rogerene widower and widow. Any
marriage of an irregular nature in those times, and to a much later
date, would have been proven until this day by record of presentment
at the County Court of the woman upon the birth of every child, with
attendant fine or whipping. Since not a single such presentment in
the case of a Rogerene (with the exception of Mary Ransford) is to
be found on the court records, the opening statement of Mr. McEwen
is even by that one evidence disproved.

_Version No. II._ (_From Bi-Centennial Discourse (1870) by Rev.
Mr. Field, successor to Mr. McEwen._)

Mr. Field tells above story in substantially the same manner, but
causes the Rogerene to say, at the close: “Ah, Gurdon, thou art a
cunning creature!” Mr. Field adds, in a footnote to the printed
Discourse, that “there can be no authority for the story except
tradition,” but that it bears “so many marks of probability that
there can be no reason to doubt its correctness.” Doubtless it was
such “marks of probability” that induced Mr. Field to credit the
story that the Rogerenes entered the churches unclothed, which he
incorporated among the various erroneous statements relating to
these people contained in this Discourse, although he had abundant
means of knowing of its absence from all New London history or

_Version No. III._ (_From Bolles Genealogy, 1865—concerning Joseph
Bolles, son of John Bolles, proof of whose marriage has been

There is a tradition in the family that Governor Saltonstall, who
had a high regard for Mr. and Mrs. Bolles, contrived to marry them
without their suspecting it. It is said that after Mr. and Mrs.
Bolles had had one or two children, and been threatened by “some
rude fellows of the baser sort” with prosecution, the Governor one
day invited himself to dine with friends Joseph and Martha. As the
dinner went on, friend Gurdon, in easy conversation, very adroitly
led both Mr. and Mrs. Bolles severally to declare that they had
taken each other as man and wife in a lifelong union, and regarded
themselves bound by the marriage covenant before God and man. As
Mrs. Bolles assented to her husband’s declaration, with her
smiling “Yea, yea,” the Governor rose to his feet and spreading
out his hands exclaimed: “By virtue of my office as civil
magistrate, and as a minister of God, I declare you lawful husband
and wife.” “Ah, Gurdon,” said Joseph, “thou art a cunning

It is strange that so intellectual and scholarly a man as Mr. John
A. Bolles did not perceive that the best part of this joke was in
the extreme friendship displayed between the ardent Rogerene leader,
Joseph Bolles, and Governor Saltonstall, as well as in the fact that
the governor must have risen from the dead to marry Joseph Bolles,
the marriage of the latter having occurred seven years after the
death of Governor Saltonstall; also that had there been a child born
to such a couple in those days, no “fellows of the baser sort” of
any less consequence than the regular town authorities would have
needed to take them in hand.

_Version No. IV._ (_From an article regarding the Rogerenes, by a
talented historian of New London of the present date, which was
published several years since in a New York paper._)

There was incessant war between John Rogers and the town because
his wife had been divorced from him. Though she was twice married,
he attempted to capture her by force, but finally married himself
to his bond-servant Mary Ransford. This scandalized the community,
and the pair were hauled before the several courts. No persuasion
would induce them to be legally united, and almost in despair
Gurdon Saltonstall, then minister, sent for the pair. “Do you
really, John,” said he, “take this woman, your bond-servant,
bought with your money, for your wife?”

“Yes,” said Rogers defiantly, “I do.”

“Is it possible, Mary, that you take this man, so much older than
yourself, for your husband?”

“Yes,” said she doggedly, “I do.”

“Then,” said the minister solemnly, “I pronounce you, according to
the law of this colony, man and wife.”

“Ah, Gurdon,” said Rogers, “thou art a cunning creature!”

Had this historian never read the famous history of the place in
which she dwells, written by Miss Caulkins, wherein is proof
absolute that John Rogers and Mary Ransford had not the honor of
being married by Governor Saltonstall? Although Miss Caulkins
herself gives a version of this story (History of New London), she
calls attention to the fact that it could not be true, as proven by
court records.

_Version No. V._ (_In one of the editions of Barber’s “Historical
Collections of Connecticut.”_)

It is here stated that “one day as Gov. Saltonstall was sitting in
his room, smoking his pipe,” a man by the name of Gorton came in
with a woman, and announced that he had taken her for his wife
without any ceremony, upon which the governor, “taking his pipe
from his mouth,” went through the usual form in these anecdotes,
whereupon Gorton exclaimed: “Thou art a cunning creature!” Barber
gives this anecdote among his various false statements regarding
the Rogerenes.

_Version No. VI._ (_A solitary anecdote found in the Chicago
Tribune of April, 1897, showing how dragon’s teeth will spring up
again and again, in one form or another._)

Alexander Bolles, one of the early itinerant preachers, who
preached in three States among the Alleghany Mountains, says the
_Argonaut_, was much tormented by the influence of one John
Rogers, a Jerseyman, who openly taught atheism and the abolishment
of marriage. On one occasion, while holding a meeting in the woods
of Virginia, a young man and woman pushed their way up to the
stump which served as a pulpit. The man, interrupting the sermon
[of course], said defiantly:—

“I’d like you to know that we are Rogerenes.” The old man looked
at him over his spectacles and waited. “We don’t believe in God,
nor in marriage. This is my wife because I choose her to be; but
I’ll have no preacher nor squire meddling with us.”

“Do you mean to tell me,” thundered Father Bolles, “that you have
taken this girl home as your wife?”

“Yes, I do,” said the fellow doggedly.

“And have you gone willingly to live with him as your husband?”

“Yes,” said the frightened girl.

“Then I pronounce you man and wife, and whom God hath joined
together let no man put asunder. Be off with you. You are married
now according to the law and the gospel.”

This rehash of several aspersions, spiced by newspaper humor, has,
as is perceived, for the best part of its joke (to those better
informed than its writer) several amusing paradoxes; viz., that the
opposing preacher should bear the name of _Bolles_; that John
Rogers, instead of dying in New London a so-called religious
fanatic, had a Rip Van Winkle sleep in New Jersey where he awoke an
atheist and at the same time a Rogerene.

The dragon’s tooth which Mr. Blake appears to have manufactured
himself, with no assistance whatever, for his “History of the First
Church of Christ, of New London,” is of a more serious character
than even such anecdotes as these. This new production is to the
effect that the General Court (1684) granted Matthew Griswold and
his daughter Elizabeth further guardianship of John Rogers, Jr., “on
account Of the continuance of his father in _immoral practices_.”

The manner in which Mr. Blake so easily manufactured a statement
never before made by any historian in regard to John Rogers, is by
having (doubtless inadvertently) placed together as contexts two
court records which have no relation to each other. The continuance
of John Rogers, Jr., in the custody of Matthew Griswold and
Elizabeth, granted in 1784, because John Rogers was “continuing in
his evil practices,” etc., referred, as observed by previous
historians, to the giving the two children into the mother’s charge
in 1677, on account (as distinctly stated in the records) of John
Rogers “being so hettridox in his opinion and practice,” even to
breaking the holy Sabbath, etc. Mr. Blake went back of this the true
context, to the alleged cause of the divorce suit in 1675, which
cause was not so much as referred to by the court when the children
were assigned to the care of the mother and grandfather, which
assignment was wholly on the ground of the father’s “hettridoxy.” To
have given the children to the care of the mother and grandfather on
account of a charge against John Rogers of which he had been
acquitted by the grand jury, would have been an impossible
proceeding. His transgression of the ecclesiastical laws and usages
were “evil practices” to the view of Matthew Griswold, Elizabeth,
and the General Court.

There has now been demonstrated the unreliable character of the main
charges that have been brought against John Rogers and the
Rogerenes, to be repeated by succeeding “historians” and added to
not infrequently, through prejudice, humor, or lack of examination
into the facts. It is trusted that the evidence given in this
present work will sufficiently prove it the result of painstaking
research and studious investigation, with no worse bias than that in
favor of the undoing of falsehood and misapprehension and the
righting of grievous wrongs.

Is it too much to ask that every person who presents so-called
history to the public shall be expected to present as clear evidence
in support of his statements and assertions, as is demanded of a
witness in a court-room, or forfeit the reputation of a reliable
author? Only by such reasonable demand, on the part of readers, can
past history be sifted of its chaff and future history deserve the

Times have changed since John Rogers, Jr., went “up and down the
colony” selling his little book; but a public at large, to which
this youth trusted for a fair hearing and for sympathy, still
exists,—a public which, as a whole, is never deaf to a call for
justice. In the hands of this court, of highest as of safest appeal,




_Christian Reader_:—

I direct this my book to thee, without any regard to one sect more
than another, for the unity and fellowship of God’s people is
Love, and this Love is the bond of perfectness, and by this Love
shall all men know that we are Christ’s disciples; and if this
Love be with us and dwell in us, by it we shall know that we are
translated from death unto life; for that faith that purifies the
soul works by this Love, and by this faith which works by Love we
come to have the victory over the world.

Beloved brethren, Since that great apostacy hath been, which the
holy apostles did in their day fore-tell of, which hath spread
over nations and kingdoms, so that the very names of things in
scripture hath been (and in many things yet are) wrongly applied
and generally believed to be that which they are not; and those
false customs which this great apostacy hath brought in hath been
received (and yet are in many things) for truths; but God hath in
these latter ages raised up such lights in the world at several
times as hath discovered much of the great mystery of iniquity;
but they have always been accounted (at their first appearing) as
deceivers and seducers and the like, by the dark world in general,
and met with great opposition from the powers of this world, even
from the powers of darkness; but the God with whom all power is
hath so borne them up, through their faith, that the gates of hell
were not able to withstand them, nor all the powers of darkness
able to gainsay them, so that Satan hath been forced to fit up a
new form of pretended holiness to deceive the world with, at
several times, yea, even at every such appearance of the light of
the gospel; for so often as the Lord hath been pleased to reveal
unto his Church the life and light of the gospel, by shining into
the hearts of his children, so often hath there been a falling
away, and that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which
deceiveth the whole world, hath at such times endeavored to work
in the hearts of governors and great men of the earth to set up
that which they imagine to be the worship of God, and to maintain
the same, and this hath ever been a snare and net whereby God’s
children have been ensnared and hypocrites set up; for the true
worship of God is in righteousness and true holiness in the inner
man, and none can thus worship God till he sets them free from the
Egypt of sin, and works this righteousness in their own hearts by
his own Spirit; and such as these cannot conform to any prescribed
form set up by the powers of darkness of this world, without
procuring the great displeasure of God; for they are to be God’s
witnesses of that worship which God hath set up in the hearts of
his own children, who alone can worship God in spirit and in
truth, and none else; and these are the light of the world, and
yet are but strangers and pilgrims in the world; for their kingdom
is not of this world. But those that fall away from the spirit of
truth into the spirit of the world are the false prophets and
antichrists, and these are they whom the world doth follow and
close with, according to scripture testimony; for saith the
scripture, They are of the world, and the world heareth them; he
that is not of God heareth not us; by this we know, the spirit of
truth and the spirit of error. Here is a plain description laid
down for us to know the false prophets by, to wit, “for the world
heareth them”; by this we know they are always the greatest
number, because the body of the people will hear and speak well of
them; but the world will not hear and speak well of the true,
saith the scripture; and this is the description the scripture
gives us to know them by. I John 4, 5, 6. Luke 6, 26. Mat. 5, 11,

* * * * *

What I have written in this book to the churches of Christ called
Quakers I did present to the ministry of the said people in the
time of a general meeting at Rhode Island, desiring of them it
might be read to the congregation at the said meeting, and so
handed among them till it come to Wm. Penn and the rest of their
ministry. But after the ministry had perused it, some of them told
me that I knew they did look at water baptism useless after a
person came to be baptised with the Spirit. To which I replied,
Your argument is just contrary to the scripture; for said Peter,
“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptised which
have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them
to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts 10, 47, 48. Another
replied, saying, “Thou holds forth the light contrary to what we
have done, both in our public testimonies and printed books.” To
which I answered, “If you can shew me wherein I have held it forth
contrary to the holy Scriptures, it shall be rectified:” But I
heard no further reply to that. I then told them that if they
would be pleased to publish it among themselves, I should be
satisfied, and proceed no further with it, otherwise my purpose
was to print it. Whereupon, some of them asked me whether I would
be satisfied if they read it in their private meeting. I told them
Yes; for I directed it to them and not to the world. Upon which
they appointed me to come to the same place the next morning at
seven of the clock for an answer; accordingly I did, where my book
was returned to me again, some saying “It holds forth things
contrary to what we have done, both in our public testimonies and
printed books, and may make a division among us.” To which I
answered, “If truth make a division among you, it is such a
division as Christ came to make.” But they thus refusing to
publish it among themselves, I have thought it my duty to put it
to public view, believing there is yet a remnant among them which
have not defiled their garments.

I have also added something more at the end of that epistle which
I presented to them, to show the difference between the
ministration of the moral law (written in the hearts of all the
children of Adam) and of the ministration of the gospel of Jesus
Christ (written on the hearts of God’s children by the spirit of
the living God) the one being the light of condemnation, the other
being the light of life, or the light of our justification,
through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, and both proceeding
from the self-same God.

* * * * *

And as to what I have written to the observers of the Seventh Day
Sabbath, these may certify thee that after it pleased God, through
his rich grace in Christ Jesus, to take away the guilt of my sins
from my conscience and to send the spirit of his Son into my
heart, whereby he did reveal unto me his love and his acceptance
of me in Jesus Christ, this unspeakable mercy did greatly engage
my heart to love God and diligently to search the Scriptures, that
thereby I might know how to serve God acceptably, for then I soon
became a seeker how to worship God, though more zealous of the
tradition of my fathers till I saw them to be traditions and no
scripture precepts. I thus, upon diligent search of the
Scriptures, found that the First-day Sabbath was nowhere commanded
by any law of God, and the Scriptures telling me where no law is
there can be no transgression, and that it is but vain to worship
God by men’s traditions, Mat. 15, 9, and also finding by Scripture
that there was a commandment for the keeping of the seventh day, I
then openly labored on the first day of the week, in faithfulness
to God and my fellow creatures, and strictly kept the fourth
commandment, which commanded labor on the first day of the week,
and required rest on the seventh. But I continuing a diligent
searcher of the holy Scriptures, and begging at the Throne of
Grace for direction in the way of truth, it pleased God to open my
understanding to understand the Scriptures and to see that the
seventh day sabbath was but a sign (under the law) of a gospel
rest that Christ gives the soul, and that the shadowing part of
the law was nailed to the cross of Christ; I could then no longer
observe the seventh day without defiling my conscience; for saith
Christ, Mat. 10, 27: “What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in
light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the
housetops.” I then wrote to those of my brethren that kept the
seventh day sabbath, showing them how it was but a sign or shadow
of a better thing that was to come by Jesus Christ, and since have
writ this following Epistle to them, wherein is opened the
covenant of the law and the covenant of grace, the first covenant
being a figure of the second; which covenant, with all the rites
and ceremonies of it, continued until the establishment of the new
testament by the blood of Jesus Christ; which testament contains
the substance of those things shadowed out in the first covenant;
and though the shadowing part of the law was nailed to the cross
of Christ, and so ceased, as they were signs and shadows, yet it
is as easy for heaven and earth to pass as it is for one tittle
(of what was shadowed out by the law) to escape of being fulfilled
by Christ in the substance of it; for what God had before
determined should be fulfilled by Christ was prophesied of by the
law, as well as by the prophets, as is to be seen, Mat. 2, 13. But
John the Baptist came so near to him that he pointed at him
saying, Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the

I have thought it my duty to put these things to public view,
being sensible of the wiles of Satan, who is wont to work in the
darkness of men, to mislead them to make idols of such things
which God commanded to be observed as signs of instructions to his
church as is to be seen, Numb. 21, 9, compared with II Kings 18,
4, and what it was a sign of is to be seen, John 3, 14, 15.

Then follows the Epistle to the Quakers and that to the Seventh Day



… But before he came into the world, those that were under the
second ministration were led and taught by a shadowing law, and
were under typical judges, kings and priests, who were types of
Christ’s kingly, prophetical and priestly offices; but since his
coming in the flesh, they have ceased, and He himself is their
alone King, Priest and Prophet, to rule and teach them, in a more
evangelical or gospel way; and this was prophesied of before his
coming into the world, Deut. 18, 15, Isa. 7, 6, Psal. 110, 4. Thus
was He prophesied of before his coming in the flesh, to wit in his
prophetical, kingly and priestly offices; but He being now already
come, we are to hear Him in all things, and to follow Him in all
exemplary things, and He alone is to rule in his church, being
their King, Priest and Prophet.

… And although we are of another kingdom, and therefore are not
to be concerned in the kingdom we do not belong to, either to sit
in judgment with them, or to fight and kill under their kingdom,
yet, as being in their country and limits, rather than to offend
them we have liberty from our King to pay them tribute for the
carrying on the affairs of their kingdom and government, both by
his doctrine and example, Rom. 13, 6, 7 etc., Mat. 17, 24 etc….
But although the children of God are free, being of another
kingdom, yet they are not to use their liberty for a cloak of
maliciousness against them, but as they are the servants of God,
and proper subjects of his kingdom, they are to honour all men,
and to fear God and to honour the king, and to make conscience, as
Christ did, not to offend them, but rather to give them their
demand for carrying on their affairs in their own kingdom, …

Can it stand with Christianity, according to Christ’s doctrine and
example since He came into the world, for his church and people to
join in with the powers of this world to resist evil, by judging
and condemning sinners, and to destroy men’s lives, by fighting
against flesh and blood with carnal weapons; or to lord it over
others by exercising authority over them, as the kings and judges
of this world do?

No: for both his doctrine and example forbid his church all such
things, as appeareth by these following Scriptures, … And thus
are we to be followers of Him, and not to take the place of a
judge upon us, from the hands of the children of this world, and
to follow them in their kingdom, to sit with them in judgment, to
judge and condemn sinners, whom Christ did not come to judge, or
to condemn, but to save. And also seeing He who was without sin
hath not executed justice upon us who were sinners, but hath
extended his grace and mercy to us, in acquitting and forgiving
us, so ought we to be followers of Him, and not now become judges
and condemners of sinners, seeing he hath not judged nor condemned
us for our sins. And seeing he who was without sin did not cast a
stone at the woman taken in adultery, who was a sinner, so
likewise let us, who were once sinners, learn of him to be
merciful unto sinners, as he hath been merciful unto us, who came
not to destroy men’s lives but to save them….

… But Christ’s doctrine doth not give his disciples so much
liberty as to defend themselves by the law of justice from the
hands of earthly judges, Mat. 5, 38 etc. “Ye have heard that it
hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’; but I
say unto you that ye resist not evil, etc,” “And if any man will
sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy
cloak also, etc.”… We are to love our enemies, and to bless them
that curse us and to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for
them that despitefully use us and persecute us, Mat. 5, 44, and to
do violence to no man, and to live peaceably with all men, as much
as in us lies, by suffering ourselves to be defrauded, Rom. 12,
18. I Cor. 6, 7.

Thus we may see, by the doctrine and example of Christ, that it
cannot stand with perfect Christianity to be either governor,
judge, executioner or jury man, or to be active in the making any
laws which may be useful in the body of the kingdoms of this
world, who are only under the ministration of the moral law, and
their weapons are carnal, with which weapons they fight against
flesh and blood only, punishing both the righteous and the wicked,
according to what is written, “And he was numbered with the
transgressors” (by the judges of this world) Mark 15, 28.

… And this His kingdom and peaceable government was before
prophesied of, and how he should put an end to wars, and reconcile
sinners to his church, …

… Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his
place, for all they that take the sword shall perish with the
sword.” Matt. 26, 52. “He that leadeth into captivity shall go
into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with
the sword.” Rev. 13, 10. Here He rebuketh the use of the sword,
according to what was before prophesied of him, threatening them
that use it to measure the same measure to them…. From hence it
appears plainly that the very reason why Christ bid them provide
swords was that He might fulfil those prophesies which prophesied
of him beforehand; that He should rebuke the use of the sword when
he should come, and cause them to beat their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and that they
should learn war no more. For when they told Him there were two
swords, He said, “It is enough;” but when they came to make use of
them, he rebuked the use of them, saying, “Put up again thy sword
into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with
the sword.” So that it appears he did not bid them provide swords
to kill and slay with them, but put an end to the use of them in
his church….

We thus seeing that Christ hath rebuked the use of the sword in
his church, and that they are to learn war no more, but are to
beat their swords into useful tools, for necessary uses, it is an
evil thing for a Christian to practice any gesture that tendeth to
war, as watching, warding or training, or exercising any posture
leading to war; for it is some degree of contempt to the doctrine
of Christ, who hath taught us to learn war no more, but to live
the life of faith and love, who hath promised us his protection
and preservation from famine, pestilence and sword, when we love
him and keep his commandments, as throughout the 91st psalm, Job
5, 19, 20. Isa. 26, 1, 2, 3, 4. Rev. 3, 10.

… But forasmuch as we have obtained mercy and grace by Jesus
Christ, and are thereby reconciled to God, and made heirs of a
better kingdom, and are but strangers, pilgrims and sojourners
here, we are not to mix ourselves with the children of this world,
by joining with them in their kingdom, to judge, or condemn, or
torture any man for his sin, seeing we are under another
ministration, having not been condemned by Christ for our sins;
neither are we to join with them to kill or slay our fellow
creatures, seeing Christ hath rebuked the use of the sword in the
hands of his followers; and except we deny ourselves in all these
things, and take up our cross and follow him, we cannot be his


_Extracts from a Reply by John Rogers, Sr. (1721), to a Book by
Benj. Wadsworth, entitled “The Lord’s Day Proved to be the
Christian Sabbath.”_

… When God’s children were in a holy frame and agreed to fast
and pray, they did it not with a mixt multitude in public
assemblies, as hypocrites are wont to do; as appears Neh. 9, 1, 2.
The children of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, in
time of offering up their prayers unto God. Acts 1, 13, 14. And we
nowhere read, throughout the whole Bible that God’s children ever
prayed in a public assembly, with a mixt multitude, and in a
customary way, as hypocrites are wont to do, as throughout the
whole scripture doth appear. Rom. 8, 26.

… This have I written that people may not be misled, by thinking
they worship God in forms and set times of prayer, while they are
in a state of sin; and that they may consider the publican, upon
his first prayer, accompanied with true repentance, went away
justified rather than the other that was zealous in his often
fasting and prayers….

In page 5th sayth he: “The apostle doth not oppose the keeping one
day in a week holy to God.” To which I answer, It is not what the
apostle doth not oppose, but what the apostle commands, I Pet. 1,
16, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” An unholy man cannot do one holy
act, no more than a corrupt tree can bring forth good fruit: but I
have no where read in the books of the New Testament that we are
commanded to keep one day more holy than another….

… And the next place, I shall shew that the first commandment
that both the angel of God and Christ himself gave forth to his
apostles was to make the first day of the week (the day of his
resurrection) a day of labor by travelling out of one province
into another…. Thus it appears that had they believed them that
was sent by the angel of God and by Christ himself they should
have set out on their journey early in the morning for Galilee,
which was in another province, and by all probability more than
one day’s journey, as appears in the 2nd chapter of Luke, which
shews that Christ’s parents went a day’s journey towards Galilee
before they missed him…. So that it appears that Christ had no
regard to the day, otherwise than to make it a day of labor …
through their unbelief they were disobedient to the message that
Christ sent them and did not make it a day of labor by travelling,
as they were required by the angel of God and by Christ himself;
which journey according to history was above 40 miles and the
message was sent them in haste, to set out upon this journey, upon
the first day of the week, the day of Christ’s resurrection.

In page 6th he quotes Gen. 2, 2, 3, which speaks only of God’s
resting from the works of creation, when all things were finished
and “was very good” … and this God’s Sabbath or rest from his
works of creation had no evening or morning ascribed to it,
because it was his eternal rest or Sabbath, all things being now
finished. And it could be no Sabbath or rest to Adam, for he had
done no work to rest from, for he was the finishing work, … So
that Adam in his first creation entered into God’s Sabbath and so
continued, till he by sin brought labor upon himself … and we
have no account in Scripture of any Sabbath commanded or kept from
Adam till Mose’s time, … For when God delivered the two tables
of the ten commandments, he gave Moses a particular account about
the seventh-day sabbath, how it was a sign, as is seen Exod. 31,
12 etc. compared with the last verse…. And a sign is not the
thing signified by it, any more than a shadow of a thing is the

In page 19 he quotes … “I was in spirit on the Lord’s day.”…
that is, I was spiritualized on the Lord’s day of his revelation
for that work he employed me in, but here is no account what day
or days it was of the week or month, this God hath not revealed to
us…. But for any to affect it to be on a first day of the week
is presumption, seeing no such name in Scripture was imposed on
the first day of the week in any other place of the Scripture….

In page 27, he quotes Acts 20, 7, “And upon the first day of the
week” … This text tells us the disciple’s coming together was to
break bread; it does not say to celebrate a Sabbath, or give the
day any pre-eminence above the five other working days … the
word breaking of bread is used in common eating, Acts 2,
46.—“breaking bread from house to house,”—Christ brake bread to
two of his disciples and also when Christ fed 5000…. And in this
place it is said they came together to break bread, and Paul was
at that time tending a ship, as appears….

But as to the Lord’s Supper, it was always attended at supper
time, … It was first instituted by Christ at supper … And
Paul, the Gentile apostle, hath left it on record that he did
deliver it to the Gentiles to be attended in the night, as appears
I Cor. 11, 23…. The Gentile churches attended the time and
season, tho’ they got into a disorderly way of partaking of it,
yet they attended the season … “For in eating every one taketh
before other his own supper.”… So that we see this coming
together to break bread, on the first day of the week, was not for
preaching (but a feast of charity), for that was attended the
night following (when the young man fell from the loft), nor for
the Lord’s supper.

The following is at the end of the book containing the answer to
Benjamin Wadsworth. The “questions” were written in New London
prison at the time John Rogers was confined there on account of
troubles arising out of the arrest and imprisonment of Sarah Bolles
for a “matter of conscience.”

The following questions were presented as they are underwritten,
but when I saw I could obtain no answer but persecution, I then
presented them to a Superior Court in the colony New London, and
from them to the next General Court in that Colony, and so to the
Elders and Messengers of the churches of the Colony of
Connecticut, requesting of them an answer, upon the consideration
of the Confession of their own Faith and the good counsels there
given, and printed in New London, in the year 1710. And here
follows an account of some part of what I presented to them, taken
out of the Confession of their own Faith.

In page 6. “First Counsel. That you be immovably and unchangeably
agreed in the only sufficient and invariable rule of religion,
which is the Holy Scriptures, the fixed canon, uncapable of
addition and diminution. You ought to account nothing ancient that
will not stand by this rule, nor anything new that will. Do not
hold yourselves bound to unscriptural rites in religion, wherein
custom itself doth many times misguide. Isai. 8, 20. To the law
and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it
is because there is no light in them.”

“Second Counsel. That you be determined by this rule in the whole
of religion. That your faith be right and divine, that the Word of
God must be the foundation of it and the authority of the Word the
reason of it, etc. For an orthodox Christian to resolve his faith
into education, instruction and the persuasion of others, is not
an higher reason than a Papist, Mahometan or Pagan can produce for
his religion.”

Page 7. “Believe, in all divine worship, it is not enough that
this or that act of worship is not forbidden in the word of God;
if it be not commanded, and you perform it, you may fear you will
be found guilty and be exposed to divine displeasure. Nadab and
Abihu paid dear for offering in divine worship that which the Lord
commanded them not. It is an honour done unto Christ, when you
account that only decent, orderly and convenient in his house
which depends upon the institution and appointment of Himself, who
is the only head and lawgiver of his church.”

Page 65. “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it
free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in
anything contrary to his word, or not contained in it: so that to
believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands out of
conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the
requiring an implicit faith and an absolute and blind obedience,
is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also. Acts 4, 19.
Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more
than unto God, judge ye. Acts 5, 29. We ought to obey God rather
than men. Jam. 4, 12. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save
and to destroy: Who art thou that judgeth another? Col. 2, 22. But
in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines commandments of
men? Mat. 15, 9. Which all are to perish with the using, after the
commandments and doctrines of men. John 4, 22. Ye worship ye know
not what. Hos. 5, 11. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment
because he willingly walked after the commandment.”

These are the scriptures they quote for their proof, with many
more. All these quotations, quoted out of the book of the
Confession of their own Faith, with much more, was presented to
the abovesaid Courts, Elders and Messengers of said churches, with
the following questions, grounded upon the said Confession of
their pretended Faith, but can obtain no answer but violence to
compel us to rebel against it, as will appear by said questions as

To Richard Christophers Assistant, and from him to Gov.
Saltonstall and Eliphalet Adams.

I request of you, as you profess yourselves to be Christians, and
the Scripture to be your rule, to give me a direct answer to these
scriptural questions, Rom. 4, 15. “For where no law is, there is
no transgression.”

My question is, Hath God any law to forbid labor on the first day
of the week? If he hath, quote chapter and verse for it, to
convict us of our error, or be convicted that you will be found
fighters against God, in striving to compel us to worship the
works of your own hands, which would be idolatry in us.

And consider the age and antiquity of an idol doth not make the
sin one whit the less, but the greater; for God’s patience and
long suffering towards idolaters should lead them to repentance.

A second question I crave of you is, Whether the name “Sabbath”
(which you impose upon the first day of the week in your law book)
be a title that God by his word hath put upon it? If it be, pray
quote the chapter and verse, where it is so named by God’s word;
if not, judge yourselves.

A third question I crave your answer to is, Whether the name
Lord’s Day (which you impose in your law book on the first day of
the week) be a Scripture name peculiar to that day? And how you
prove the revelations of Jesus Christ to John was upon the first
day of the week?

And if you cannot answer the said questions by the holy
Scriptures, then I request of you to read and to consider what is
written, Psal. 94, 20, 21. “Shall the throne of iniquity have
fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather
themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn
the innocent blood.” From the New London Prison, the 17th of the
9th month, 1719.

And here follows a copy of my request to Court Elders and
Messengers, wrote under the above questions as it is here.

My request to you is, That you will be pleased to see that an
answer to my questions may be returned, by you or your elders, as
you will answer it before God, the judge of Heaven and earth, and
that we may not be compelled by the Authority to offer to God in
divine worship that which he hath not commanded, against our
consciences, and contrary to the Confession of your own Faith; and
if God hath commanded the first day of the week to be kept for a
Sabbath, to quote to us the place in Scripture where it is so
commanded, and send it to us: And if there be no command of God
for it in the Holy Scriptures, and only your own law in your Law
Book, and your minister’s doctrine for it, then I desire you to
read and consider what is written, Mat. 15, 7th, 8th and 9th
verses, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth
me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain
they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of

New London, the 7th of the third month, 1721. From him that wishes
you well, and desires to see your salvation and not your

But I could obtain no answer from them; “For every one that doeth
evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds
should be reproved.” John 3, 20.

And now my request to you, the said Courts, Elders and Messengers,
is, in the presence and view of the world, to shew us chapter and
verse, or verses, where God’s command is which commands the
keeping the first day of the week for a Sabbath, by which you are
not in the same danger Nadab and Abihu was, that we may escape
with you; for I can find no such commandment throughout the whole
Bible: For you, in the Confession of your Faith, set before us the
great danger we are in, if we offer to God that in divine worship
which he hath not commanded; not only the loss of our lives, as
Nadab and Abihu did theirs, but eternal damnation also; as appears
in your “Confessions of Faith,” Page 7, and in your second Counsel
(before quoted).

Upon this consideration, I request this favor of you, so that we
may venture in with you in keeping of it, by a commandment from
God, if you know of any, for this will be more for your honour
than to compel us against our own consciences (and your own
counsels) by your own law, accompanied with your whips, stocks,
fines and imprisonments; which hitherto you have been using to
compel us to offer in divine worship that which God hath not
commanded; and besides this, we are ashamed (I do not say you) to
pretend to be “orthodox Christians” and “to resolve our faith into
education, instruction, and the persuasion of others,” seeing you
say in your “Confession,” page 6, that “this is no higher reason
than a Papist, Mahometan or pagan can produce for his religion;”
for we would not be like such spoken of in Zeph. 3, 5, “The unjust
knoweth no shame.”

Thus it appears nakedly before your eyes, and to your consciences,
that either your Counsels, in the Confession of your Faith, is
very erroneous, or else your first day Sabbath, if it have no
command of God for it, which I can find nowhere throughout the
whole Bible—and that which can be found nowhere may well be
concluded not to be at all. And the said Counsels in the
Confession of your Faith is so substantially grounded on the holy
Scriptures that I think it most safe to conclude that it is your
Sabbath that is erroneous and idolatry (except you have a
commandment of God for it) by the Confession of your own Faith.

I having been treating upon your Sabbath, the foundation almost of
all your worship, which is the works of your own hands, by your
own Confession, except you can find a commandment of God for

_The following from “A Midnight Cry,” by John Rogers, Sr._

I desire that these following things may be well considered.

First, when God delivered the two tables of stone into the hands
of Moses, he gave him a particular account about the Sabbath how
it was a sign, as is to be seen Exod. 31, beginning at verse 12 to
the end of the chapter, yea, it was a covenanted sign to that
people, as is to be seen, verse 17. Ezek. 20, 12, 20.

Secondly, Moses testifieth to Israel that it was commanded to be
kept upon the account of that deliverance out of Egypt, as is to
be seen Deut. 5, comparing the 12, 13 and 14 verses with the 15th
verse. So that as their deliverance was from a temporal bondage,
so the sign of it was a temporal rest; and the sign was for a
covenant between God and them, of his safe protecting them from
the oppression of their enemies, in that inheritance which he gave
them while they kept his laws.

Thirdly, Christ testifieth that the priests profaned the Sabbath
in the temple and yet were blameless, Mat. 12, 5, compared with
Numb. 28, 9, 10, so that we may well conclude those sacrifices by
which they profaned the Sabbath, though they were but signs in
themselves, yet the Sabbath which was of less value was to give
place that the greater might not be omitted.

Fourthly; The man that bore a burden on the Sabbath day, to wit,
his bed, John 5, 10, profaned it in so doing, and was as blameless
as the priests; for that sign under the law was not the Sabbath,
any more than that circumcision commanded to Abraham was the
circumcision, and therefore, saith the apostle, That is not
circumcision that is outward in the flesh, Rom. 4, 12. Thus we see
he calls it the sign of circumcision, though the scriptures did no
where call it a sign, but called it circumcision; but the 7th day
Sabbath God declared to be a sign, yea, a covenanted sign with his
people, as circumcision was, as is to be seen, by comparing these
places of scripture together, Exod. 31, 13, 16, 17. Gen. 17, 10,
13 and 14.

Fifthly, Seeing that God testifieth that the weekly 7th day
Sabbath is a sign, and gave no such plain demonstration of any
other of the Sabbaths under the law, we have good and better
reason to judge that Paul’s words, Col. 2, 16, 17 (Let no man
therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holy
day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a
shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ) comprehends
the 7th day Sabbath in a special manner, seeing it agrees with
God’s testimony to Israel, that it was a sign to them, and a sign
is not the substance; for a shadow is but the sign of the

And lastly, Seeing that God testifieth to Israel that the 7th day
Sabbath was a sign, so it was no more the Sabbath than the seven
stars which John saw in the right hand of Christ were the angels
of the seven churches, nor no more the Sabbath than the seven
golden candlesticks were the seven churches, nor no more the
Sabbath than those fat kine that Pharaoh saw were the seven
plentiful years; which sort of creature (we afterwards read) they
made an image of and worshipped; nor no more the Sabbath than the
sign of circumcision was the circumcision; nor no more the Sabbath
(under the first covenant) than the wine that Christ gave his
disciples to drink was the blood of the New Testament or covenant;
nor no more the Sabbath (under the first testament) than the bread
that Christ gave to his disciples was his body under the second or
new covenant.

Thus we see that signs (in the Scripture) bear the complete name
of the substance or thing they signify; so the 7th day Sabbath was
a sign under the first covenant, and so continued till the
establishment of the second, and then both the covenant and signs
under it ceased; for they were signs of instruction to the church,
that they might impose their faith on the things they signified,
which were to be fulfilled by Christ, who was the substance of
them all; and so at his coming they were all nailed to his cross,
and so ceased. Eph. 2, 15, 16. Col. 2, 14. And so likewise the
signs that are now in being (under the new covenant) are to
continue till Christ’s coming in his manhood, I Cor. 11, 26, and
then they will cease also.



Whereas there is a printed law in her Majesty’s Colony of
Connecticut, entitled only “Heriticks,” in the preface to it they
say “To prevent the danger persons are in of being poisoned in
their judgments and principles by hereticks,” etc.

Which said law the queen by advice of her council hath condemned,
repealed and declared it void and of none effect, it being
contrary to their charter. And indeed there is a good hand of God
in the Queen’s act, for I know of no sect worse poisoned in their
judgments and principles by gross heresy than the Church of New
England; and it is very evident that hereticks have ever
persecuted the true church under abusive titles, as deceivers,
hereticks, Quakers, and the like abusive titles, which they
themselves are guilty of; for erroneous persons, principles and
practices are condemned by the scriptures of truth; so that they
have no other way to cloak themselves, under their delusion and
heresy, but by casting such like odious titles on the children of
God, and so persecute them and burn their books; for Satan’s
design in making use of these deluded persons, thus to act, is to
suppress truth under pretense of heresy; as for instance I shall
begin with the master of the house, whom they called Beelzebub,
the prince of devils, Mat. 12, 24. He went by the name of
“deceiver,” Mat. 27, 63. Paul by the name of heretick, Acts 24,
14. Luther’s books were burnt under pretense utterly to suppress
heresy; the worthy martyrs in Queen Martyr Mary’s time suffered
death under the name of hereticks; and those worthy martyrs in
Boston in New England under the name of Quakers and hereticks; and
my books by this law now repealed have been condemned and burnt,
under pretense of heresy, though I have made fair proffers at
their General Court to reward any person well for their time and
pains that would endeavor to show me any one error in them, but
none have yet publickly appeared.


He (John Rogers) spoke very much of his satisfaction and unity
with George Fox, John Stubbs, John Burnyeat and William Edmundson
as the Lord’s servants, with sundry others of the first visitors
of that country, that he knew them to be sent of God, and that
they had carried the reformation further than any of the
Protestants ever did before them, since the general apostacy from
the purity both of faith and doctrine; first the church of England
they did nothing in the end but made an English translation of the
Latin service used before, the Presbyterians they dissented and
the Independants, but came not to the root of the matter; the
Baptists dissented from the other three, but went not through.
Upon which, though I could not wholly agree with him in his
assertions, I queried if he thought that all these several steps
of the English church from Popery, the Presbyterians and
Independants from the English church, and the Baptists from all
three of them, had not something of good in them, viz. I mean
whether the first concerned in dissenting from Popery, though they
afterwards rested too much in the form of worship in the Episcopal
way, had not the aid of Christ’s spirit to assist them in their
dissent? And so for all the rest. This he did readily grant to be
a great truth; and so allowing that the first reformers actuated
by divine light, and being faithful to what was made known to
them, had their reward; and their successors sat down in that form
their predecessors had left them in, but did not regard that Power
and Life by which they were actuated, and so became zealots for
that form, but opposed the Power. “And this,” said he, “is the
true cause of the several steps of dissent one from another; and
the reason why there is so little Christian love, and so much
bitterness and envy one against another, is their sitting down
contented, each in their own form without the Power, so that they
are all in one and the same spirit, acting their part in the
several forms of worship in their own wills and time, not only
opposing the Spirit of Truth, but making it the object of their
scorn and those who adhere to it the subject of their reproach,
contempt and envy; and this is the foundation of persecution” said



… Here I think he (Backus) does the government no honor by
informing the world that they have made laws to debar such as
differ from them in matters of religion the liberty of the king’s
highway to pass to their own meetings, since our lord the king
hath granted equal liberty of conscience to all dissenters to hold
their meetings and serve God according to their consciences….

In his 13th page he gives a record (of his own making) relating to
John Bolles, which record declares that J. Bolles acknowledged
that he came from New London, and was going to Lebanon, and that
he knew it was contrary to our law, and that they did it in
defiance of the law.

To which I answer, “That God’s three children were cast into the
fiery furnace for declaring their defiance to the king’s law,
which was made to force men’s consciences in matters of religion;
and all the prophets and apostles suffered for opposing those laws
which were set up to force people’s consciences in matters of
worshipping God; And all the martyrs which have suffered the
flames and other tortures ever since, it has been for manifesting
their defiance to such laws as have been set up by the worldly
government to uphold false worship, or to restrain them from
worshipping God according to their consciences. Now for as much as
God has justified all those sufferers above-mentioned, for their
bold defiance of such laws as were set up by man to prevent people
serving God according to their consciences, well may we have
confidence that God will justify us for the same thing. We have
also further to plead in our own justification in this matter than
those sufferers above-mentioned had, inasmuch as our lord the king
has granted us the same liberty to meet together and worship God
according to our consciences as he has given to our persecutors:
So that in the consideration of what is here expressed, I think J.
Bolles and his brethren are highly commendable for their
faithfulness to God, in manifesting their defiance against such
laws as would restrain them from worshipping God according to
their consciences.

… In his 14th chapter, he charges the sufferers to be most
daring and malicious offenders, utterly disregarding those
Scriptures, Rom. 13, Tit. 3, I Pet. 2, etc.

In the first place I shall fully grant from those Scriptures, and
many more that might be mentioned, that the worldly government is
set up of God, and are God’s ministers to act in worldly matters
between man and man, and that the law that God hath put into their
hands is good, if they use it lawfully;… according to what is
written, I Tim. 1, 8, 9, 10. And while the worldly government act
within their commission, God is with them and has put such carnal
weapons in their hands as is sufficient to rule all carnal
persons, which are stocks, fines, prisons, whip and gallows, which
above-named weapons are sufficient to conquer and subdue all
carnal and guilty persons, so that rulers are a terror to

And forasmuch as we acknowledge the worldly government to be set
up by God, we have always paid all public demands for upholding
the same; as town rates, county-rates and all other demands,
excepting such as are for the upholding hireling ministers and
false teachers which God has called us to testify against. Now
when the worldly rulers take upon themselves to make laws relating
to God’s worship, and thereby force men’s consciences, and so turn
their sword against God’s children, they then act beyond their
commission and out of their jurisdiction; and are so far from
being God’s ministers that they are fighters against God and his
church; and God is so far from making them a terror to his church
that he gives his church and people faith and boldness to
withstand them to their faces….

… Here I think he (Backus) does the government no honor by
informing the world that they have made laws to debar such as
differ from them in matters of religion the liberty of the king’s
highway to pass to their own meetings, since our lord the king
hath granted equal liberty of conscience to all dissenters to hold
their meetings and serve God according to their consciences.



… A travelling ministry are sent from town to town and from city
to city, and from country to country, and over sea, so that they
are not only taken from their own employment, but are also sent
upon charges; their state and condition is like a man that is
prest a soldier and sent away from his own living on charges and
therefore maintained at the king’s charge. And hath not this man
power to forbear work? though he tarry some days at a place, must
he therefore maintain himself by his own labor? is not this the
very state of a travelling ministry of the gospel?…

… I have thus proved by Scripture that a traveling ministry of
the Gospel hath power to forbear work. And secondly that the
churches ought to relieve them: And thirdly have shewed their
differing state from settled elders.

… In the second place, I shall now prove by Scripture that
settled elders are commanded to work with their hands and thereby
to support the weak; by being givers rather than receivers.—We
find that the apostle sends for the elders of the church.—He saith
to them, I have coveted no man’s silver or gold, or apparel; ye
yourselves know that these hands of mine have ministered unto my
necessities and to them that were with me; I have showed you all
things, how that so laboring, ye ought to support the weak, and to
remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more
blessed to give than to receive….

… And 3rdly Whereas Christ, upon sending them forth to preach
the gospel, forbids them making any provision for their journey,
requiring them to expect their meat and reward from his hands….

… From hence we may see by Scripture that Christ’s ministers,
whom he calls and sends to preach the Gospel, are so well provided
for by Him that they have no need to be hired by the children of
the world; for in so doing they would reproach their Lord and
Master and shew themselves not only faithless, but wickedly
covetous, in practising contrary to this doctrine of Christ, and
to come under the condemnation of this great sin so much condemned
in Scripture, “The priests whereof teach for hire, and the
prophets whereof divine for money, yet they will lean upon the
Lord, and say, is not the Lord among us; none evil can come upon
us. Therefore shall Zion for your sakes be plowed as a field, and
Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountains of the house as
the high places of the forest … yea they are greedy dogs, which
can never have enough, they are shepherds that cannot understand;
they all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his
quarter.”… Christ calls them hirelings and ravening wolves.

And though the nameless authors of the said Pamphlet are pleased
to call such (as join with Christ and his shepherds, to testify
against these hirelings) by the name of wolves, yet these
hirelings, or at least their shearers, the collectors, have always
taken them for sheep, especially about shearing time…. Now we
that join with Christ and the true shepherds to testify against
these hirelings, we come under the blessing of Christ … Blessed
are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, for so
persecuted they the prophets which were before you; yea this must
we suffer all the time that these hireling prophets are under this
curse of Christ. Wo unto you when all men shall speak well of you,
for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

… In page 8, they assert … “That he be given to hospitality”
and say they, “how is it possible for him to be so, if you be
given to covetousness, and given to dishonesty and cheat him of
his maintainance?”

To which I answer If it be the people’s gift, its their
hospitality and not the ministers: the churl may be liberal, if
other men’s purses make him so. But the ministers of the Gospel
are given to hospitality of that which their own hands have
ministered to them, and are obedient to their Master’s words, who
hath said unto them, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

… And it is a shame for you to tell of the galling of your hands
with inferior labor for the getting of bread; it is your duty to
do so, and if the people be the cause, as you say, of your
laboring with your hands, they are worthy of praise in causing you
to do your duty, and you ought to have done it without their
causing you to do it, and therefore you proclaim your shame. For
you ought to have taken the holy prophets, and Christ and his
apostles for your example, to have labored with your hands, and
not the false prophets and false teachers, who sought to live upon
the people,… Christ shews that such stewards as those could not
dig for their living, and to beg they were ashamed….

And the true prophets, and Christ with his apostles have set us
better example…. Here you may see that Elijah was plowing …
here Elisha went to Jordan with the sons of the prophets and cut
down wood…. Amos was a husbandman and a gatherer of wild
figs…. Christ was a carpenter…. Paul was a tayler or
tent-maker and worked at it tho’ he were a travelling minister of
the gospel,—and so did the rest of the apostles, as is to be
seen…. These examples, with that apostolical command (to the
elders of the church) Acts 20, 34, 35, ought to be attended by
Christ’s ministers….



As it has ever been allowed that the defaming of the dead is a
mark of the most unmanly and base spirit of a coward and ought to
be abhorred by all persons who bear the image of man; then how
much more abominable is it of P. P. to sport himself with his own
lies over a man in his grave? And I think no person of common
reason will expect any apology of me on account of this my
undertaking, since my silence in this matter would have rendered
me very unmanly….

… If John Roger’s books contain “but few of his principles” then
how comes P. P. to know what his principles are, several years
after his death? except the same spirit which once deceived him in
the matter of longitude has again deceived him concerning J. R.’s
principles; and we have as much reason to question the truth of
what he tells us of J. R.’s principles (since he has no better
proof than his own bare word) as the General Assembly had to
question the truth of longitude, which soon after proved a
delusion of Satan….

Now by these foolish and vain pretended reasons, the reader may
plainly see that he only wanted an excuse to evade J. R.’s books,
that he might take his full swing to bely and abuse him at his
pleasure; because he well knew that if he had quoted his books,
they would have discovered his falsehoods….

But I should not have enlarged so much upon this head, were it not
that I am sensible that there are many thousands of grown persons
in this Colony that for want of opportunity to be informed in the
principles of other sects remain so ignorant that they know no
difference between the Church of England and the Papists, nor
between the Quakers and the Baptists, but esteem each couple to be
alike. And now is it possible that such persons should be able to
discern the ignorance of P. P.?…

… Now how marvellous is it that P. P., who knew himself to be a
man so inconstant and changeable, not only in his worldly concerns
from his very childhood, but also in matters of religion since he
has arrived to riper years, should presume to put out a book only
on his bare word, without any proof at all. Surely he might
reasonably have thought that all who knew him would expect better
proof from such an inconstant person than from any other man….


Considerable light is thrown upon the “Outbreak” of 1764-66 by a
Rogerene pamphlet (of about 1759), which appeared in several
editions, sometimes ascribed on the title-page to John Bolles,
sometimes to his son Joseph, and probably the joint work of father
and son, written out by the latter; thus having a style noticeably
different from that of John Bolles, although equally clear-cut and
forcible. John Bolles, being at the date of this work eighty-two
years of age, may be supposed to have welcomed the aid of his son
Joseph, both as collaborator and amanuensis. The following is from a
copy of this work to be found in the New London Public Library:—

An Answer to A Book entitled The Christian Sabbath, explained and
vindicated in a discourse on Exodus XX. 8.[192] Jan. 14, 1759,
upon a particular occasion, by Mather Byles, pastor of “The First
Church of Christ” (as he saith) in New London, written by Joseph
Bolles, in behalf of the rest which suffer persecution for
breaking said pretended sabbath.

Footnote 192:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

In page 5 of Mather Byles sermon, he says: The Christian Sabbath
has of late been publickly attacked; and those who observe it have
been challenged to show any scripture warrant for the practice.


We have been imprisoned 23 at a time, 8 of us about 7 months, and
some of the best of our cattle and horses and other goods taken
away, and 3 of us cruelly whipped, near 20 stripes apiece, for
doing the business of our ordinary calling on the 1st day of the
week, which he calls the Sabbath, all within 9 months. And in
these persecutions we have continually desired our persecutors to
show any Scripture warrant for their practice; we have also sent
forth advertisements promising ten pounds reward to any person
that could show us one word in the Bible that forbids labor on
this pretended Sabbath; which we suppose he calls “a challenge;”
and because he cannot find a word in the Bible that forbids labor
on his pretended Sabbath he has preached a sermon instead thereof,
and though he calls it the Christian Sabbath, it is not called so
in Scripture; by which it is evident it was not the Christian
Sabbath in the apostles time; for if it had been they would have
called it so. Also his text is part of the commandment to labor
six days and rest the seventh; so that his own text that he builds
his Sabbath upon requires labor on his pretended Sabbath. For it
says six days shalt thou labor; and we know that this pretended
Sabbath is the first of the six days….

… In page 18 he says, “And lastly to assign a reason why there
is no command for this Sabbath in the New Test.;” and in his next
page he says, “The apostles left it to after discoveries,” which
will be answered in its place. But neither God nor man require us
to keep a Sabbath without a law, “For where no law is, there is no
transgression.” Rom. IV. 15. And sin is not imputed when there is
no law: And the “Confession of Faith” of this Colony requires a
command for all the worship we perform to God, in page 7, and
there is no discovery of this pretended Sabbath in the Bible; for
he says, “the apostles left it to after discoveries,” and the
first command that we have discovered for this pretended Sabbath
was more than 300 years after Christ by Constantine the emperor,
recorded in “Fox’s Acts and Monuments,” Vol. I. p. 134, in these
words: “The Sunday he commanded to be kept holy by all men and
free from all judiciary causes, from markets, marts, fairs and
other manual labors, only husbandry excepted.” Here we may observe
no husbandry labor is forbidden, in this “after discovery.”

Also king Inas, who reigned in England, in the year of our Lord
712, commanded that infants should be baptised within 30 days, and
that no man should labor on Sunday. “Fox’s Acts etc.” Vol. I, P.
1016. Observe in this after discovery all labour is forbidden; as
popish darkness increased, this Sabbath strengthened and infant
baptism was also “discovered.”

Also king Edgar, who began his reign in England in the year of our
Lord 959, he ordained that Sunday should be kept holy from
Saturday noon till Monday morning, and he ordained and decreed for
holy days and fasting days. “Fox’s Acts,” Vol. I. P. 1017. Observe
this “after discovery” being in midnight popish darkness, this
Sabbath was kept more strict and they also discovered half a day
more, and holy days and fasting days to be observed. Also king
Canutus, who began to reign in England in the year 1016, he
commanded celebration of the Sabbath from Saturday noon till
Monday morning. This king “discovered” it by the name of
“Sabbath”; but the other three “discovered” it by the name of

Also in our Colony there is an ample “after discovery” of it by
the name of Sabbath or Lord’s day, which exceeds the four other
“after discoveries;” with a famous law to torture the bodies of
them that break this pretended Sabbath, by whipping, not exceeding
20 stripes if they refuse to pay a fine; and doubtless there has
been more “after discoveries” by express commands, for this
pretended Sabbath, in Rome, France and Spain. Therefore if M. B.
will preach up this pretended Sabbath, which he says the apostles
left to “after discoveries,” he ought to have taken his text out
of the forementioned “after discoveries,” where there are express
commands to build their Sabbath upon; but, as he builds it on
God’s commandment, which commands labor on his pretended Sabbath,
it has no foundation to stand upon, and therefore stands upon
nothing. No “after discovery,” neither this pretended Sabbath,
infant baptism, nor the mass nor purgatory, ought to be built on
any text in the Bible. But whoever preaches up any of these “after
discoveries” they ought to take a text out of the law book, where
they are instituted and commanded, and not out of the Bible where
they are not “discovered.”

How fully Mr. Byles had endeavored to stir up the authorities to
take the offenders strenuously in hand will be inferred from the
following, from the same pamphlet.

… He calls us deluded, blind, obstinate, because we suffer
persecution for breaking a Sabbath which he says the apostles left
to “after discoveries.” But it is this sort of ministers that
preach to our General Court to suppress or persecute them that
walk by the apostle’s doctrine, for not observing this Sabbath
which he says the apostles left to “after discoveries.”

He further says:

“Take away the Sabbath and what will be the consequence?”

_Ans._ He speaks like the idolaters of old. Judges XVIII. 24. “Ye
have taken away my gods which I made, and the priests,—and what
have I more?” Here we may see the idolaters speak all with one
voice; their heart is after their idols and their priests more
than after God.

Next he says: “Errors in doctrine and corruption in practice would
break in upon us like a flood, immorality would triumph without


It is such a time now, for there are errors in doctrine, manifest
errors indeed, in this and other sermons; and corruption in
practice is already broken in upon us like a flood, and immorality
triumphs almost without control among the people, who are
encouraged to it by the example of their priests, which live
immoral lives in covetousness, pride, fulness of bread and
abundance of idleness…. Also the observers of this pretended
Sabbath do allow that there is more immorality amongst themselves
than there is among us who do not observe it. Immorality triumphs
in a high degree, even in gathering money for the priests of many
poor people to whom there is more need to give, and casting some
into prison to force them against their conscience to pay money to
maintain such priests in idleness,[193] which they know God hath
not sent to teach them.

Footnote 193:

See “Debate Between Mr. Byles and the Cong. Church.”—_People._ “We
never could conceive nor imagine how you could spend your time.
You never visited any of your parishioners, but very seldom—seldom
preached a new sermon; but old sermons over and over, etc.”



To see their Worship and worshippers Weighed in the balance and
Found Wanting.—With a true account of what the people called
Rogerenes have suffered in that town, from the 10th of June 1764
to the 13th of December 1766. Who suffered for testifying, That it
was contrary to Scripture for ministers of the gospel to teach for
hire. That the first day of the week was no Sabbath by God’s
appointment. That sprinkling infants is no baptism and nothing
short of blasphemy, being contrary to the example set us by Christ
and his holy apostles. That long public prayers in synagogues is
forbidden by Christ. Also for reproving their church and minister
for their great pride, vain-glory and friendship of the world they
lived in.—With a brief discourse in favour of women’s prophesying
or teaching in the church.—Written by John Rogers, New London.
Providence N.E. Printed by the author 1767.

June 10, 1764. We went to the meeting house at New London, and
some of our people went into the house and sat down, others
tarried without and sat upon the ground some distance from the
house. And when Mather Byles their priest began to say over his
formal, synagogue prayer, forbidden by Christ, Mat. VI. 5 etc.,
some of our women began to knit, others to sew, that it might be
made manifest they had no fellowship with such unfruitful works of
darkness. But justice Coit and the congregation were much offended
by this testimony, and fell upon them in the very time of prayer
and pretended divine worship; also they fell upon all the rest of
our people that were sitting quietly in the house, making no
difference between them that transgressed the law and them that
transgressed not; for they drove us all out of the house in a most
furious manner; pushing, kicking, striking etc., so that the
meeting was broken up for some considerable time and the house in
great confusion: Moreover, they fell upon our friends that were
sitting abroad, striking and kicking both men and women, old and
young, driving all of us to prison in a furious and tumultuous

… The authority and minister and some of the people were greatly
offended at our opposing their false worship; for they carried on
their worship in such pride, and so contrary to the Holy
Scriptures that they could no ways defend it by the Scriptures and
therefore took another way to defend it never practised by Christ
or any of his followers. For justice Coit did continually fall
upon us when we came among them and drive us to prison, in an
angry and furious manner; sometimes twenty sometimes thirty in a
day, striking and kicking both men and women, pulling off women’s
caps and bonnets and tearing them to pieces with their hands,
setting an example to the rest of the people; also he made no
difference between them that spoke at the meeting house against
their worship and those that did not speak; for his constant
practice was to fall upon all our friends that came to the meeting
house and all that he could see in sight of the house and drive
them to prison, he and his company, in a most furious and
tumultuous manner, stopping their mouths when they went to speak,
choking them etc. Also he doubled our imprisonments every time we
came among them; but this method he took added no peace to them,
for some of our friends were always coming out of prison, as well
as going in, … However, this was the method they took, and after
this manner they celebrated their Sabbaths from the 10th of June
to the 12th of August.

… February 16. Some of our friends were sitting quietly in the
meeting house, between meetings, and Col. Saltonstall[194] came in
and laid hold of an old man that had the numb palsy, aged 73
years, and with great violence hauled him out of the seat, setting
an example to others, who fell upon them and drove them out of the
house and to the court house, in a furious manner, and carried
them up through a trap door into a dark garret and locked them in,
and at night a company of their base men got together, among which
were … This base company went into the court house and shut
themselves in and took our friends out of the attic and offered
shameful abuse to our women in the dark…. Now after this
shameful abuse to the women, they took two men and stripped off
their clothes and tied them to a post in the court house and
whipped them in a most unmerciful manner, especially one of them,
which they struck unmerciful blows with a staff and with bunches
of rods on his back, till it was like a jelly, also they rubbed
tar into their wounds and whipped upon the tar, forcing it into
their flesh, also they rubbed tar in the mouths of the men and
women when they went to speak. When these two men were first tied
to the post they sang praises to God, and in the time of their
torment they called upon God to strengthen them. After this, they
laid hold on these two men and forced them to run down near to the
town wharf and threw them into the water several times; also they
took their hats and threw water on them for some considerable
time. Moreover, they threw the women into the water. And after
this the sheriff’s eldest son and another man with him took a poor
weakly woman, forty odd years of age, and forced her to run
through the streets till she dropped down, and then they left

Footnote 194:

Gurdon, son of Governor Saltonstall.

Now the next first day of the week, after Col. Saltonstall shut
our friends up in the court house and set his son Dudley and
others to abuse us, it being the 23d of February, we were coming
to the meeting house again, but as soon as we appeared in sight,
Col. Saltonstall run out and met us, and a great company with him,
and fell upon us in a very angry manner, before we had spoke one
word, to drive us to the court house, as he did the week before,
when our friends were sitting quietly in the house between
meetings. But as soon as they fell on us, we spoke and made a
great noise, and refused to go with them, telling them we chose to
be killed publickly before the people, rather than to be murdered
privately in the court house.

Now the tumult grew very great, so that the meeting was broken up
for some considerable time, and they dragged both men and women on
the ground to the court house;[195] some by their hands, some by
their legs, and some by the hair of their heads, striking them
with their fists, kicking them, striking and punching them with
staffs and tearing the clothes from their backs, and they dragged
them into the court house and hauled both men and women up two
pair of stairs, and hauled them up through a trap door into that
dark loft that they had shut our friends up in the week before,
and they locked them in. In this tumult an aged woman was so
overcome that she fainted away and they left her lying on the
ground. Now there were present in this riot justice ——, justice
——, justice ——, the high-sheriff and Col. ——, besides constables
and grandjurymen: There was also a deacon among them, which makes
us write as follows.

Footnote 195:

See likeness to similar scene in Governor Saltonstall’s time,
1721 (Part II, Chapter X).

The deacon and the justices
Were busy in this fray,
Church members and grandjurymen
Forgot their Sabbath day.

After the tumult was over, these church members remembered their
Sabbath, and returned to their pretended worship again: But as
soon as that was over, the authority consulted together at the
meeting house, and sent the high-sheriff, who came with a company
of men and took down ten women out of that dark loft that the
authority had shut them up in (two of these women had young
children with them and another was big with child)[196] and
committed them to prison, leaving near twenty small children
motherless at their homes. Now as the high-sheriff was going from
the meeting house, to commit these women to prison, some of the
people of the town asked him what they were going to do with our
friends; the sheriff answered that the women were to be committed
to prison, but he said the men were to be delivered up to Satan to
be buffetted. So the authority kept the men locked up in that dark
garret till night, and then they were delivered up to the
authority’s children and a rude company of young men, who came and
unlocked the trap door and abused our friends in the manner
following: They took down one man first out of this dark loft and
brought him down into the lower room of the court-house, and tied
his hands round a post, also they tied another line to his hands
and hoisted him up by a tackle, then they brought his knees round
the post and tied them with a line, and stripped his clothes up
over his head and tied them also; then they whipped him in a very
barbarous manner by the light of a candle. And when they had done
torturing him, they let him down and shut him up in one of the
court house chambers. They then brought down another out of the
garret, and tortured him after the same manner as they did the
first, and then shut him up also, pretending they would whip them
all over again, except they would recant and promise not to come
among them any more. There were twelve whippers that took turns at
the whip, and commonly three or four to whip one man, one after
another. They pretended to give those men thirty nine stripes
each, but they used several sorts of whips, especially one
unmerciful instrument made of cow-hide, also they whipped them
with large rods tied together, some of which had ten in a bunch,
so that they far exceeded thirty nine stripes, for they struck
each person thirty nine times with that cruel instrument, except
one man, which after they had struck him thirty unmerciful blows,
one of the spectators ran and untied him, telling the whippers he
was an old man and they ought to use some discretion towards him.
Nine men were thus used this night, all heads of families, some of
which were elderly men that had great families of children.

Footnote 196:

Delight Rogers (wife of John Rogers, 3d) was one of the women
imprisoned. Her daughter Anna (mother of John R. Bolles) was
born very soon after her release. The near-sightedness of this
daughter was attributed to the fact that her mother wept so much
during her imprisonment. Delight Rogers sat with the rest in the
meeting-house; she did not take any work there. Mr. John R.
Bolles in “Reminiscences of his Life,” published in a New London
paper, said that the venerable Dr. Nathaniel Petting, who knew
Delight Rogers, used to say to him: “If there ever was a good
woman, your grandmother Lighty was one.”

This whipping was executed in a very barbarous manner, for the
rods were trimmed, and long sharp fangs left on them, to tear the
flesh of the sufferers, also these men that whipped our friends
struck them in such a violent manner with these heavy bunches of
rods that they beat and bruised their flesh till it was like
jelly. Moreover some of their wrists were so cut and their sinews
so much hurt with the line they hung by, that several of their
hands were numb for more than two months after. Also the two men
that had been so unmercifully whipped by this company in the court
house the week before, and otherwise abused, were of these men
that suffered that night: And they struck one of these men, he
that had been the most abused the week before, forty three cruel
blows on his old sores, and ten or twelve of these blows were
after he had swooned away. Our persecutors cut these rods upon
their Sabbath, and fitted them at the court house, and Colonel
Saltonstall was at the court house among them when they were
preparing the rods…. When their persecutors heard them praying
and calling on Christ for strength, they would threaten them, and
whip them with all their might, endeavoring to make them promise
to renounce their testimony against their worship, but were not
able to make one of them renounce their testimony, or make any
promise at all. But the sufferers told them to this effect, that
what they did against their worship was for no other end but to
please God and keep a good conscience, and that if they should
promise to renounce their testimony God would renounce their souls
forever. Also when some of the men that had suffered this cruel
whipping were shut up in the court house chamber, they prayed
earnestly to God to strengthen their brethren that were to suffer,
also they prayed for their persecutors, for God gave them more
than a common love to those that were tormenting them.

So after these nine men had suffered, they were set at liberty.
Their persecutors threatened them to double their whipping every
time they came to the meeting house among them. And no doubt they
would have gone further, had not God prevented them by making a
division among the people; the neighboring towns crying out
against such barbarous and unlawful behavior; also it was a common
saying among the people that they were sorry their rulers had
resigned up their authority to a company of boys and set them to
defend their worship….

The above is but a small part of such blood-curdling accounts,
filling a good-sized pamphlet. Portions will be found in the
“History of New London,” not quoted here. Near the end is something
less thrilling.

Sept. 14, 1766. Some of our people went and sat down some distance
from the priest’s house, and when he came out to go to meeting,
they walked with him and endeavored to have some friendly
discourse with him concerning the things of God; But the priest
would not talk with them about the things of God. However, they
walked with him and talked to him, but before they came to the
meeting house, justice Coit began to kick them in a furious
manner, especially the women. Also one of the townsmen fell upon
them, punching both men and women with a staff in a cruel manner,
so they were driven by some of the people to the upper end of the

* * * * *

The next first day of the week, being the 21st of Sept., as some
of us were setting by the side of a house, between meetings, about
four or five rods from the priest’s house, saying nothing to any
person, the high-sheriff came, with some assistants and took us
and sent for justice Coit, who came and committed eight men of us
to prison. And on the 26th day of the same month, justice Coit
came to the prison, and we were taken out and brought before him,
and he charged us with disturbing the minister’s peace. We told
him we had no thought of doing the minister any hurt. Justice Coit
answered, that he did not suppose that we intended to strike him
or wrestle with him, nor did he suppose we intended to hurt a hair
of his head, but he supposed that we intended, when the minister
came out, to go along by his side and talk with him. So when
justice Coit had confessed that he did not suppose we intended to
hurt a hair of the priest’s head, he fined us five shillings each,
and required bonds of good behavior towards all his majesty’s
subjects; but especially towards the priest. But we refused to
give such bonds, looking upon the judgment to be very absurd, and
that justice Coit’s supposing that we intended to talk with the
priest was not breach of the peace in us, so he committed seven of
us to prison again, all heads of families, one of which men was in
his 75th year. Four of these men were kept in prison till the 13th
of December following, and two were set at liberty about the 28th
of November, and one within a few days after we were committed to

Now after these men were committed to prison, our friends that
were at liberty thought it necessary that some of our people
should go on the first days of the week and set in the priest’s
sight and not fear them that persecute the body. But when the
priest saw them sitting in sight, if it were but a few women, he
would not come out of his house to go to meeting…. Also this
behavior of the priest occasioned much trouble to his poor flock,
for sometimes the bell would ring and the people sit waiting for
their priest till it was time for meeting to be half done: And
then justice Coit, or some of the rest of his sheep, were obliged
to come and move the women out of the priest’s sight, and guard
their shepherd to the meeting house, lest these women should speak
to him of the things of God.

It was almost every day of the first days of the week for the
whole time of this imprisonment, which was near three months, that
this shepherd was kept in his house by the sight of our friends,
and sometimes only at the sight of a few women, and he never
ventured to come out till some of his sheep came and drove the
women away. But justice Coit committed no more of our friends to
prison under bonds of good behavior because he supposed they
intended to talk with the priest, after these men above mentioned.
But the 23rd of November, one of our men told the priest, after he
was come out of the meeting house, that he came to put him in mind
how they kept God’s children in prison, and that their worship was
upheld by cruelty. The priest answered to this effect, that they
could uphold it in no other way. Then the man replied it must
certainly be of the devil, if there was no other way to uphold it
but by cruelty. But the sheriff struck him twice on the head, and
punched him with his staff to prevent his speaking with the
priest. And he and three women were committed to prison, but at
night they were set at liberty…. God said, Jer. 1, 7,—“Thou
shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command
thee thou shalt speak.” Also the apostle Paul exhorteth us to be
followers of him as he was of Christ, I Cor. XI. 1. And Paul spent
much time in going from place to place, disputing in the
synagogues on the Sabbath days, as appears in the Acts of the
Apostles. And no doubt they built their synagogues, and thought,
as our neighbors do, that they had a natural right to worship in
them and that the apostle had no right to oppose them in their
worship, for they were as much offended at the apostle as our
neighbors are at us, for they called him a pestilent fellow, and
said he was a mover of sedition throughout the world, Acts XXIV.
5. Also speaking of Paul and Silas they said, Acts XVII, “These
that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also.”



I have no particular objection to this church; but believe it to be
a true church of our Lord etc.—but it is this mysterious call of
Providence etc.—the churches of this and old England are equal to
me. I am called from one to another where I can be of more
usefulness, which is my duty…. And I believe you had better
dismiss me, as you may get one that will do much better. You want
one that will visit his parishioners—preach a lecture once in a
while…. I was not made for a country minister…. I am weak and
infirm[197] … to come up this tedious hill all weathers—come in
all out of breath … obliged to preach till all in a sweat … then
go out in the cold, on this bleak place … run the risk of my
health etc…. And then to be treated as I have been by the Quakers
… disturbed upon the holy Sabbath. If I have not the Sabbath, what
have I? tis the sweetest enjoyment of my whole life!—Insulted by
them almost continually, surrounding my house. Many a time has the
bell tolled for hours together, and at last one single man
condescends to come down and drive them off. I would not live such a
life over again for no consideration…. I see no prospect of
amendment … our laws are not put in full execution. (And then he
went on to show wherein the civil authority, in his opinion, were
deficient in duty with regard to the Quakers etc.[198])—My salary is
not sufficient[199] etc…. My friends are in Boston. Etc.

Footnote 197:

Mr. Byles was at this time thirty years of age.

Footnote 198:

Unfortunately we have merely this in parenthesis concerning the
stand taken by Mr. Byles in regard to the Rogerenes.

Footnote 199:

It will be remembered that Mr. Byle’s salary was a liberal one,
and his family at this date could not have been large.

_People._ These objections are nothing to the purpose, and what you
say about the Quakers is a mere cobweb. As to the call of
Providence, it plainly appears to be money…. Conscience! with what
conscience can you leave this church of Christ? (They then set forth
the obligations he was under to walk with this church; the
connection between them was of a sacred nature etc.)

_Minister._ There are ministers enough to be had.

_People._ Yes, such as you are—We never could conceive nor imagine
how you could spend your time before now, for you never visited any
of your parishioners, but very seldom—seldom preached a new sermon;
but old sermons over and over, again and again; and behold all this
time you have been studying controversies, about modes and forms,
rites and ceremonies! Is it for this we have been paying you this
three years past, when you should have been about your ministry?…
In regard to the Quakers insulting you etc. Is any man wholly free
from persecution? If that is all you have, you ought to be very
thankful that you have no more than a few poor old women sitting
round your gate.



Satan, to all classes of the Ecclesiastical system that profess
Christ’s name and prove traitors to his service.

I now address you as my sworn subjects, under full power of my
authority; feeling much gratified to see my kingdom established on
the ruins of God’s creation. Though I have been wounded by Christ,
the invader of my possessions, yet I hold before you the greatness
of my power and the glory of my kingdom. I am the great and high
prince and god of this world…. I am your god, and I warn you of my
great enemy Christ; that you be not found obedient to any of the
requirements of his contracted plan. My ways are broad and easy. I
am high in heart and teach the same to you. That in all nations you
may set my worship in high places, that it may be adorned with all
the splendid glory which belongs to the prince that offered Christ
all the glory of this world. That your places of worship may appear
beautiful to men. And let my servants, your ministers, be men of the
best gifts and talents; for so were your fathers the false prophets.
And be not like Christ’s apostles, who were ignorant, unlearned men.
Even his great apostle, Paul, (they said) in bodily presence was
weak and his speech contemptible. But let it not be so with you….
For it is my will that you should have the praise of men; and
receive from them titles of honor. For the ways of Christ, our great
enemy, are contrary to all men, and even to nature itself, as you
may see throughout all his precepts; for example I Cor. I, 26, 27,
28. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God
hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the
things that are mighty; and base things of the world and things
which are despised hath God chosen.”

This is no description of an accomplished member of society.
Faithful subjects, when you execute the priest’s office in my
service, put on a dress suitable to your ministration; and let your
bodily presence be amiable and your speech affable, and your
countenance grave and solemn. Salute the people with a comely
behavior, that you may glory in your own presence. For verily I say
unto you, except your outward appearance of righteousness shall
exceed that of Christ’s ministers, you shall in no case deserve the

Agreeably to my counsel, in all cases resent an insult from your
fellows and go forth to war with them; embody yourselves and march
to the field of battle, with religion at your right; and appoint one
of my servants, your ministers, a chaplain to pray for your success.
And there encamp, one against the other; and let my servants, your
priests, on both sides, put up a prayer to the God of heaven that
you may gain the victory over each other; cherishing the belief that
all that die gloriously in battle go immediately to heaven. And when
you are coming together to do the work of human butchery, if a sense
of the horrid piece of work which you are about to perform shall
fill your soldiery with terror, benumb their senses with
intoxicating liquor; and put on confusion and distraction, under the
name of courage and valor; and fear not, for I will be with you and
fill your hearts with such vengeance, through the immediate
influence of my spirit, that you shall be able to perform all my
will and pleasure. And, when you have sufficiently soaked the ground
with the blood of your fellow men, and humbled their hearts and have
gotten your wills upon them; then return and let my servant, your
minister, lift up his voice before you, unto the God of heaven, with
praise and thanks for the victory; that you have been able to do
such deeds as to bereave parents of their sons, wives of their
husbands and children of their fathers…. And then return home full
of the glory of your own shame, and tell your rulers you have saved
their pride, gratified their ambition and saved a little of the
trash of this world; for which you have taken the lives of your
fellow creatures, each one of whom is worth more than all the
treasures of India. For all such things belong to the religion that
I delight in.

Ye fathers, I exhort that you exercise yourselves in laying up
treasure on earth. And ye, young men, that you likewise embrace
every opportunity to get riches, which are an honor to youth; that
in the performance thereof your hearts may be raised higher in

And ye, ministers of the civil law, I counsel that you swerve not
from mutual confederacy with the ecclesiastical system. That, for
the sake of your honor, you strictly attend to your oaths; and put
in motion all laws and modes of punishments which may tend to compel
all kinds of people to submit to our precepts, which are in
opposition to the rules of Christ.


It is well known that the Christian religion has been in the world
18 centuries, since she first visited the earth, and also that 300
yrs. of the first part of the time, altho’ she stood in opposition
to the powers of this world, and under cruel persecutions, yet she
mightily grew and flourished until about the 4th century, at which
time, a general revolution took place through the governing parts of
the earth and she was delivered from her persecution, being a great
church and standing on her own foundation. And from that day down to
this the priesthood of this religion (falsely so called) has been
preaching to us a sinful world, though broken in sect, but under one
lineage of ordination. Yet they have not brought the world, nor the
church to a state of perfection; but much to the contrary. For when
they first took the Christian church by the hand to lead her through
the ensuing ages of the world, she then stood on her own feet,
enjoying a well-united system of her own. And what is she now?…
she is now broken all to pieces and become a house divided against
herself. And this unparalleled circumstance has rendered it
necessary that the sinful world unto whom you, the said priests,
have been preaching, should have somewhat to preach unto you….


Whereas I am once more called to suffer for conscience’s sake, in
defense of the gospel of Christ; on the account of my son, who is
under age, in that it is against my conscience to send him into the
train-band. For which cause, I have sustained the loss of my only
cow that gave milk for my family; through the hands of William
Stewart, who came and took her from me and the same day sold her at
the post. Which circumstance, together with the infirmity of old
age, has prevented my making my usual defence at such occasion. I
have therefore thought proper and now do (for myself and in behalf
of all my brethren that shall stand manfully with me in defense of
the gospel of Christ) publish the following as a petition to my
countrymen for my rights and privileges; and especially to those
that have or shall have any hand in causing me to suffer.

_Fellow Countrymen_:

You esteem it a great blessing of heaven that you live in a
country of light, where your rights and privileges are not invaded
by a tyrannical Government. And for this great blessing of heaven do
you not feel yourselves under obligation of obedience to heaven’s
laws; to do unto all men as you would that men should do unto you?
Or which of you on whom our Lord hath bestowed ten thousand talents
should find his fellow servant that owed him fifty pence and take
him by the throat, saying, “Pay that thou owest me,” and, on
refusal, command his wife and children to be sold and payment to be

Fellow Countrymen, this case between you and me I shall now lay open
before your eyes, seeing it is pending before the judgment seat of
the same Lord. Our Lord and Master hath commanded us not to hate our
enemies, like them of old times under the law of Moses. But hath,
under the dear gospel dispensation, commanded us, saying: “I say
unto you love your enemies, do good to them that hate you and pray
for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, and if any man
shall sue you at the law and take away your coat, forbid him not to
take your cloak also.” “If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he
thirst, give him drink.” And again: “I say unto you that ye resist
not evil.”

For these, and many other like commands of our Saviour, Christ, I
have refused to bear arms against any man in defense of my rights
and privileges of this world. For which cause, you have now taken me
by the throat, saying: “Go break the laws of your Lord and Master.”
And because I have refused to obey man rather than God, you have
taken away the principal part of the support of my family and
commanded it to be sold at the post.

And thus you, my fellow-servants (under equal obligation of
obedience to the same laws of our Master) have invaded my rights and
privileges and robbed me of my living, for no other reason but
because I will not bear the sword to defend it. And if a servant
shall be thought worthy of punishment for transgressing his master’s
laws, of how much punishment shall he be thought worthy that shall
smite his fellow servant, because he will not partake with him in
his transgression? But I wist that through ignorance you have done
it, as have also your rulers; and for this cause do I hold the case
before you, that you may not stand in your own light, to stretch out
against me the sword of persecution; but agree with your adversary
whilst you are in the way with him. But if you shall refuse to hear
this my righteous cause and shall pursue your fellow servant that
owes you nothing, and who wishes you no evil, neither would hurt one
hair of your head, and although you take away his goods, yet he asks
them not again; but commits his cause to Him that shall judge
righteously; I say if you shall follow hard after him, as the
Egyptians did after Israel, God shall trouble your host and take off
your chariot wheels, so that you shall drive them heavily. For I
know, by experience, that no device shall stand against the counsel
of God; for I am not a stranger in this warfare, neither is it only
the loss of goods that I have suffered heretofore; but extreme
torments of body, while my life lay at stake under the threat of my
persecutors, and yet God, through his mighty power, has never
suffered me to flee before my enemies, but has brought me to the 83d
year of my age, though all my persecutors have been dead these many

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