Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

25 March 2012 – The Bible of John Rogers the Martyr of Smithfield, England April 25, 2012

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Today I was attempting to clean up the websites I’d bookmarked in my favorites bar.  I came across a google book I had marked to go back to called “Signers of the Mayflower Compact”  By Annie Arnoux Haxtun.  It has some interesting info on the Rogers Family Bible.  I have to add that I think I asked about this Bible when I was up at Alfred University a few years ago and although the folks there were very helpful, I don’t think they knew if they had this Bible or not.  Does anyone out there now it’s current location???

Here is some of the interesting parts on the Rogers family as transcribed by me:

Signers of the Mayflower Compact, By Annie Arnoux Haxtun, Originally Published New York 1897-1899, Page 62-63

“No matter who James Rogers, of New London, was descended from he had children and made a will leaving behind him a clear record of his doings, his value in the community and the amount of his estate.

He came to Americain the ship Increase in 1635, aged 20 years, always supposed to be a descendant of John the Martyr.  Few people have greater reason for making a claim, or feeling that they substantiated it, that this on the part of James Rogers.  It needs no discussion; it comes authentically, so far as anything can, from the librarian of Alfred University, New York State, where the Bible recorded as from John the Martyr, of Smithfield,England, is preserved.

To strengthen and prove its value, I quote verbatim from the copy of the Bible records:

Written on inside cover is the following:

Cranmer’s first edition, to which this accurately corresponds, was first published in 1539.  The archbishop was burned by Bloody Mary in 1556.  We give this the date of 1549 for fear of antedating.  Fifteen hundred and thirty-nine might, with more propriety, have been its date,”

The following is written on the first fly leaf:

The New Testament of our Lord Christ  

Translated from the original Greek by Cranmer, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in the second year of Edward VI.’s reign MDXLIX

The following is written on the second fly leaf:

Hoc Novum Testamentum Republica eruditissimis viris ostensum est, inter quos alliqui illustres Theologiae Doctores errant, Id cum libris et codcillis amplissimarum bibliothcarum collatum est, et declaratum est Cranmeris Episcopi, primariiCanterbury, edition promulgate anno Domini MDXLIX, et in Brittaniae Regis Edvardi VI. Secundo anno

 

Gulialmus H. Porter

Waterford, Conn., Oct. 1st, 1839

The following is a newspaper clipping pasted on a fly leaf taken from the “New London Repository:”

The Bible of John Rogers the Martyr.  Little did we dream, in the days of our boyhood, while with eager curiosity and childish simplicity we used to pore over the pages of the New England primer, and pause with almost tearful sympathy over the quaint old wood cut representing the burning of the martyr, John Rogers, at the stake, attended by “his wife and nine small children, with one at the breast,” that we should ever behold the Bible, the veritable Bible, read, pondered and prayed over by that noble martyr to the Christian faith.  But we have the privilege of recording the strange fact that we have seen, handled and perused the identical precious relic of the days of Smithfield fires and the bloody persecution of the reign of the cruel Mary.

The book itself is a small, thick quarto, containing the New Testament (the translation of Cranmer in 1539), the Psalms and a portion of the liturgy of the Protestant Church at that time.  The title page, a few of the first and the last leaves have been lost, the book having been twice rebound.  It is printed in the large, full, ancient German text, with ornamental initial letters to a portion of the chapters and a few marginal references.

The Chapters are divided, as in King James’s version, but they have no division into verses, capital letters in the margin indicating the commencement of paragraphs as they occur in each chapter.

In various parts of the book we find brief notes and memorandums by different person relative to its carefully cherished and authentic history.

This venerable book, by a careful comparison with a number of ancient copies in the library of Yale College, New Haven, is ascertained by antiquarians to have been printed in 1549, in the days of King Edward VI., under the patronage of Thomas Cranmer, the primate of England, who was burnt at Oxford, March 1. 1556, in the third year of Mary’s reign, a little more than two years after Rogers was burnt at Smithfield.

The Bible was kept as an heirloom by the family, descendants of the venerated martyr, having been concealed from the minions of the bloody Queen during the remainder of her reign, in a bed, and carefully preserved until it passed into the hands of James Rogers, a descendant (great-grandson son, as by himself stated) of the martyr, by whom, when 20 years of age, it was brought over to this country.

He emigrated to New Haven in 1635, and most sacredly kept the precious relic in all his sojourns in this, then, wilderness, as a protection against the attacks of savage foes, or a talisman against misfortune.  It came into the possession of Jonathan, the fifth son of James Rogers, descended to his eldest child, who, by marriage, became connected with the Potter family of Hopkinton, RI, – Conclusion of the Newspaper Clipping.

The Bible has been most religiously cherished in this family about a hundred years and is not the property of Mrs. Saunders, niece of the late Miss Polly Potter of Potter Hill, RI.

It has been confined for a short time, as a precious relic, to Capt. Daniel Rogers, of this city, by whose indefatigable antiquarian genealogical researches its historical connection with every family through which it has passed has been fully established back through the descendants of the former owner.  James Rogers, who came to America in 1635, as above stated.

Delays are not always dangerous, and to secure all that can be known requires the giving of sufficient time to leave no stone unturned to gather in the history all are anxious for.

A great searcher is certainly entitled to every consideration.  One follows almost blindly their train of thought, and accepts it from the very force of their argument, but even in the face of my own willingness, I cannot see any cause why James Rogers of Newport, RI, should claim place as possible son Thomas of the Mayflower, as against James Rogers of New London.

Mr. Drummond has effectually disposed of John of Milford; left no possible argument in his favor, though even having two sons of the same name in a family is not without historical precedent, as Mr. Ethan Allen Doty found in his searches.

Rhode Island colonial records give that James Rogers was a freeman at Newport,RI, March 15, 1643; was elected sergeant of the General Assembly march 15, 1643 and continued such until 1664 and was also Solicitor General in 1657.  In 166 his widow, Mary Rogers (then Mary Peabody) petitions to settle his accounts.

THE MARTYR’S BIBLE

Experts, whose opinions are all valuable, believe in the Bible now in the Museum of Alfred University as belonging to John, the Smithfield Martyr, inherited by his descendant, James Rogers, of New London and by him brought to this country.

This coincides with my own convictions and on this platform I propose to work, acknowledging from the onset that many records which would have been convincing to me a short time since, to-day, from the fact of my long searching among these people of Pilgrim claim, have only led me to make an entire change of belief.

Each historian of his family has given, according to his lights, the opinions formed from the records found.  They have turned all the stones in their line to march, but have left many, as a matter of course, to be removed by others.

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