Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

23 July 2018: Funerals in early Connecticut and other interesting stuff July 23, 2018

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Today’s topic is a little bit off beat, but I came across this interesting passage in Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of New London, Connecticut this past weekend. It was so interesting I thought I’d share it with you.

History of New London, Connecticut, Pages 267-268:

Obituaries of the Early Settlers.

Taking our position on the high ground at the beginning of a new century, let us pause and review the band of early settlers, who sitting down among these barren rocks, erected these buildings, planted these gardens, manned these decks, and from Sabbath to Sabbath led their children up these winding paths to worship God in that single church — that decent and comely building, plain in appearance, but beautified by praise, which sate on the hill-top, side by side with the lowly mansions of the dead. From those silent chambers let us evoke the shades of the fathers, and record some few fragments of their history, not irrecoverably buried with them in the darkness of oblivion.

There is an interest lingering about these early dead which belongs to no later race. The minutest details seem vivid and important. A death in that small community was a great event. The magistrate, the minister, and the fathers of the town, came to the bed of the dying to witness his testament and gather up his last words. It was soon known to every individual of the plantation that one of their number had been cut down. All were eager once more to gaze upon the face they had known so well ; they flocked to the funeral ; the near neighbors and coevals of the dead bore him on their shoulders to the grave ; the whole community with solemn step and downcast eyes, followed him to his long home.

Riding at funerals was not then in vogue; and a hearse was unknown. A horse litter may in some cases have been used; but the usual mode of carrying the dead was on a shoulder bier. In this way persons were sometimes brought into town for interment even from a distance of five or six miles. Frequent rests or halts were made, and the bearers often changed. These funeral customs continued down to the period of the Revolution.

Our ancestors do not often appear to us in all the homeliness of their true portraiture. Imagination colors the truth, and we overlook the simplicity of their attire and the poverty of their accommodations. Estates before 1700 were small; conveniences few, and the stock of furniture and garments extremely limited. Many of the large estates of modern times have been built up from very small beginnings.

Each man was in a great measure his own mechanic and artisan, and he wrought with imperfect tools. Most of these tools were made of Taunton iron; a coarse bog ore, which could produce only a dull edge, and was easily broken. The value of iron may be inferred from the fact that old iron was of sufficient importance to be estimated among movables. In the early inventories very few chain are mentioned. Stools, benches and forms, took their place; jointstools came next, and still later, many families were provided with the high-backed settle, a cumbersome piece of furniture, but of great comfort in a farmer’s kitchen. A broad box-like cupboard, with shelves above, where the pewter was arranged, and called the dresser, was another appendage of the kitchen. The houses were cheaply, rudely built, with many apertures for the entrance of wind and frost; the outside door frequently opening directly into the family room, where the fire-place was wide enough to admit an eight feet log, and had a draught almost equal to a constant bellows. The most finished timbers in the house, # even those that protruded as sills and cross-beams in the best rooms, were hatchet-hacked, and the wainscoting unplaned.

One of the first objects with every thrifty householder, was to get apple-trees in growth. Most of the homesteads consisted of a house, garden and orchard. Cider was the most common beverage of the country. Some beer was drank. They had no tea nor coffee, and at first very little sugar or molasses. When the trade with Barbadoes commenced, which was about 1660, sugar and molasses became common. The latter was often distilled after importation. Broth, porridge, hasty-pudding, johnny-cake and samp, were articles of daily consumption. They had no potatoes, but beans and pumpkins in great abundance.


If you’d like to see more, you can find this book at http://www.archives.org



4 June 2018: Be careful who you accuse of being a witch in Salem … June 3, 2018

I just finished reading two novels that intertwine modern-day and the history of Salem as it relates to the Salem witch Trials. Interesting stuff, especially when you consider our own family’s entanglement in the area of accusing someone of witchcraft in Salem.  The following is a transcription I did for my genealogy program. It’s such interesting stuff I had to share it with you. Our earliest known Wells ancestor is Thomas Wells who married Naomi Marshall, daughter of Edmund and Millicent Marshall as described below.  This is great stuff. I love articles that have such in-depth citation notes. Normally, these notes are found at the bottom of the typed page. For the purpose of this blog (and my genealogy program) I’ve inserted them at the bottom of the corresponding paragraph.

Here’s a map to give you some reference:

Map of Salem, Mass and Area

FROM: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 160, July 2006, The Edmund Marshall Family of Chebacco, Essex County, Massachusetts by Patricia Law Hatcher, Page 186 and onward.

The Edmund Marshall Family of Chebacco, Essex County, Massachusetts

Patricia Law Hatcher

The published quarterly court records of Essex County, Massachusetts, area a rich source for the family of Edmund Marshall and Millicent Marshall of Chebacco (now the town of Essex), providing information about vital events, lifestyles, individuals, relationships, and even personalities. (1) Their descendants settled in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

  • (1) Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 9 vols. (Salem, Mass.; Essex Institute, 1911-75). Spelling has been modernized in the abstracts. The Marshalls seem to have confined their court appearances to Essex County. They do not appear in Supreme Judicial Court files 1629-1797 (“Suffolk Files”) (FHL 0,909,870; 0,909,873; 0,909,876); in John Noble, Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1692; 3 vols, (Boston: County of Suffolk, 1901-1928); or in Records of the Suffolk County Court 1671-80, 2 vols., vol. 29 and 30 of Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (Boston: The Society, 1933).

SALEM (1636-1651)

Edmund Marshall and his wife Millicent arrived in New England probably with other immigrants who sailed during the summer or fall of 1636. “Edmund Marshall” became a member of the First Church of Salem 8:11 mo. (January) 1636/7. His daughter Naomi was baptized soon after. “Millisent Marshall” joined the church a year later, on 31:10 (December) 1637. She remained a member of the church by “removed” was written next to Edmund’s name, with no date given (2) On 17 May 1637, Edmund was made a freeman of Massachusetts Bay Colony, a status for which church membership was a prerequisite. (3)

  • (2: Richard D. Pierce, ed., The Records of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1629-1736 (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1974), 6, 16, 7. The footnote erroneously interprets 8:11 mo 1636 as “November 8, 1636 (Old Style).”)
  • (3: “List of Freeman,” Register 3 (1849): 95.)

On the 29 11th month (January) 1637/8, land that Salem had granted earlier to Mr. Thorndike was reapportioned in eight twenty-acre lots, including one to Edmund Marshall. (4)

  • (4) Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol. 1, 1634-1659, Essex Institute Historical Collections, 9 (1868): 64-65. His lot is referenced several times in landholding lists (Town Records of Salem, 18-25). Under “Anno 1636” (page 21), “Edmund Marchall.m” is listed with “20 acrs,” the baffling “m” appearing to refer to the correction in the same hand. Notes next to many names indicating the page to which the entry has been moved (9 in Edmund’s case) reflect an effort to organize the grants geographically.

The common land, maintained by New England towns to be used by all inhabitants, often was eventually divided and distributed, but with an eye to the welfare of the community. On 25 10th month (December) 1637:

It is agreed that the marsh & meadow lands that have formerly layed in common to the town shall now be appropriated to the inhabitants of Salem, proportioned out unto them according to the heads of their families. To those that have the greatest number an acre thereof & to those that have least not above half an acre, & to those that are between both 3 quarters of an acre. (5)

  •  (5: Town Records of Salem (note 4), 61.)

Edmund Marshall received three-quarters of an acre for his household of four persons – Edmund, Millicent, son John and daughter Naomi. (6) On 25 12th month (February) 1638/9, Marshall was granted an additional three acres. (7)

  • (6: Town Records of Salem, 101-3)
  • (7: Town Records of Salem, 85.)

The family remained in Salem through 1646, as shown by the births and baptisms of their children. (8) However, they probably lived in the area that is now Beverly, away from what is today Salem proper. (9)

  • (8: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16-20, Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 6 vols. (Salem, Mass; Essex Institute, 1916-25), 1:57.)
  • (9: Sidney Perley, History of Salem, 3 vols. (Salem, Mass: the author, 1924-28), 1:373)

The first appearance of Edmund Marshall in the court records was in 1648 for failure to perform his civic duty by taking his turn at the watch. He was fined for his lapse, but the fine was “remitted on account of the weakness of his family and his poverty,” (10)

  • (10: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:246 (Salem, November 1651.)

The Marshalls moved farther from Salem town by early 1651 when Edmund Marshall “of Manchester” purchased sixty acres of land with two and a half acres of marsh in Manchester. (11). Manchester, which lies on the south coast of Cape Ann between Beverly and Gloucester, south of Chebacco. On 18 June 1645, at the request of the inhabitants, the General Court had ordered that “Jeffries Creek shall be henceforward called Manchester,” (12) Unfortunately, the early records of Manchester do not survive for either town of church.

  • (11: Essex County Deeds, 1:9 (dated 18:12mo;1650/51)
  • (12: Sidney Perley, History of Salem, 3 vols, 2:174.)

Edmund Marshall of Manchester skipped the obligatory church services and was presented in November 1651 for “absenting himself from the public ordinances three or four Sundays.” He compounded the error on his ways when he justified his absence by “reproaching Mr. Thomas Dunham, in saying that he had preached blasphemy, and was a common liar.” (13)

  • (13: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:246 (Salem, November 1651).


Edmund may have attended the church at Gloucester, where Richard Blinman was preacher. The Rev. Richard Blinman had arrived in New England around 1640 with a number of Welsh followers, settling first at Marshfield, Plymouth Colony, then relocating to Cape Ann (later Gloucester) in 1641. In 1650 he became minister to the fledgling settlement at New London, Connecticut, and members of his group followed. (14)

Sometime before 13 February 1651/2, Edmund sold his twenty acres in Salem. (15) Edmund and John Marshall were on a list of inhabitants of New London taken in March 1651. However, the Marshalls did not remain long in Connecticut and soon returned to Essex County. (16)

  • (14: W. Farrand Felch, “The Blynman Party,” Register 53 (1899):234-41: Isaac J. Greenwood, “Rev. Richard Blinman of Marshfield, Gloucester and New London,” Register 54 (1900):39-44; Frances Manwaring Caulkins, History of New London, (New London, Conn.:the author, 1852), 67,70.)
  • (15: Unrecorded deed; sale referenced at meeting of Salem selectmen 13 12th month (February) 1651/2, Town Records of Salem (note 4), 171; these town minutes quoted in Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 7:293-94 (Salem, November 1679).
  • (16: Felch, “Bylnman Party” (Note 14), Register 53:238. There is no reason to believe that Edmund Marshall was associated with the West County group in England, but recently his wife Millicent has been identified in electronic sources as a Blinman. The contrasting social status for the Oxford-educated Blinman and for the illiterate and poverty-ridden Edmund and Millicent make this highly unlikely, and no hint of a familial connection between Blinman and the Marshalls is shown in David L. green, “Mary, Wife of the Rev. Richard Blinman of Marshfield, Gloucester, and New London; An Unsolved Problem,” The Genealogist 4 (1983): 173-86.)



For Puritan New England, belief in witchcraft was fundamental and consistent with their religious beliefs. It was often the only explanation available for bad things that occurred. It is not known why Edmund Marshall accused Goody Perkins, Goody Dutch, and the wives of William Vincent and William Evans of witchcraft in 1653. The charges were serious; Marshall’s house and orchard were attached to ensure his appearance in court. He was found guilty of defamation and ordered to make acknowledgement in the meeting house in Salem, Ipswich, and Gloucester within fourteen days of the court of 4 September 1653.

  • (17. Essex Quarterly Court Records (Note 1), 1:301 (Ipswich, September 1653).)

Two months later “Edmund Marshall of Salem weaver” purchased five acres near Basse River in what is now Beverly.

  • (18. Essex County Deeds, 1:21, dated 28 November 1653.)

Edmund kept this land until 1661, when he sold it, plus ten acres of upland with a dwelling house in Salem, and ten acres of upland together with half an acre of meadow, signing with his mark.

  • (19. Essex County Deeds, 2:13. The deed was made and acknowledge 25 1st month (March) 1661, recorded 22 3rd month (May) 1661. Edwards had not obtained a deed for the second five acres (from John Marston sr.), and in 1673 he received that deed and filed a statement documenting his neglect (Essex County Deeds, 4:4,5). He signed his statement with an M mark.)

On 31 March 1662, Edmund Marshall of Ipswich sold the house and land in Gloucester that he had purchased from John Browne, including one and a half acres of salt marsh and three acres of upland on the northwest side of the Annisquam River adjoining the other parcel. Edmond and Millicent signed with marks and acknowledged the deed at Ipswich 31 March 1663.

  • (20. Ipswich Deeds, transcribed (FHL 0,873,018), 2:150 (original page number). It is unclear whether the deed was made exactly one year prior to the acknowledgement or whether it was misdated. The earlier deed from Browne was apparently not recorded.


CHEBACCO (1663-1668)

Thereafter, the Marshalls are referred to as of Chebacco (which is given in an incredible variety of phonetic forms in early records). The southern portion of Ipswich was marshy, cut through by numerous waterways whose names are now unfamiliar: Chebacco River, Hog Island River, Harradine’s Creek, Nichols Creek. As the population grew, Chebacco was recognized reluctantly by the town of Ipswich as the second parish and allowed to form its own church. An area with few timid people, it developed its own personality and population, prompting controversies with the town and frequent court squabbles. (21) Shipbuilding was an important industry, even providing the name Chebacco boats to a later style of fishing craft. Edmund pursued his trade as a weaver, (22) but his sons would earn their livings as shipwrights. Chebacco became the town of Essex in 1819.

  • (21. James Colman, Sarah (Marshall) Colman, and Benjamin Marshall were members of the church at Chebacco. In the spring of 1679, the people at Chebacco called Dr. Jeremiah Shepard as their preacher and prepared to build a meeting house. The Council at Ipswich objected to this more than once and ordered them to desist. However, the women of the village determined that the order applied only to the “men” of the village and, acting alone, erected a church building. Soon after, Shepard moved to Lynn, and the congregation was founded around a strong minister, Rev. John Wise. The story of the forming of the parish, with lengthy quotations from the records, is in Robert Crowell, The History of Essex (Springfield, Mass: Town of Essex, 1868), 72-84.)
  • (22. Essex County Deeds, 1:9; Ipswich Deeds (note 21), 2:150 (Original page number).)

Marsh land was valuable to the residents of coaster Massachusetts. The grass that grew in the salt marsh could be cut and used to feed stock through the winter. It was, however, not always easy to identify specific parcels of marsh land, there being few identifiable landmarks. Sometimes parcels were common to several individuals, who each mowed the entire plot in turn. Such were the circumstances precipitating the pair of cases brought in 1662 and 1663. First, John Marshall sued Robert Cross for trespass for mowing the meadow Marshall had hired from Richard Brabrooke; in turn Cross sued Thomas Varney, John Marshall, Edmund Marhsall, and William Warrener for mowing Cross’s marsh grass after previously having been warned. (23) Cross apparently held part of the parcel in Chebacco marsh in common with John Burnham and John Marshall, Presumably, Cross soon thereafter carried out the statement he had earlier been heard to make that he would have the common marsh divided “before another year, that there might be no more difference in one mowing before another.” Although Cross and Marshall apparently settled their differences about the marsh, Cross and Burnham did not, continuing to meet in court on the subject. (24)

  • (23: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 2:434-35 (Ipswich, September 1662); 3:86-88 (Ipswich, September 1663).)
  • (24: Dean Crawford Smith, The Ancestry of Samuel Blanchard Ordway, Melinde Lutz Sanborn, ed. (Boston: NEHGS, 1990), 228-29.)

In a deposition on this case, “Edmund Marshall, junr.” referred to his “brother” John, thereby establishing the existence of a child of Edmund not baptized at Salem. (25) Edmund again referred to John as his brother in a 1663 deposition relating to marshland in the same area belonging to the Knowlton family. This deposition is the last mention found of John Marshall. (26)

  • (25: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 3:87 (Ipswich, September 1663))
  • (26: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:127-28 (Salem, November 1672). The case was in court in 1672 though the deposition was dates 25 June 1663.)

A great problem in the small, closely-situated lots was stock that got into neighboring fields and destroyed crops. (27) Hogs often had rings put in their noses to reduce the amount of rooting (and hence damage) that they could do. In 1668 William Cogswell accused John Burnham’s hogs of destroying his barley. Edmund and Benjamin Marshall deposed that when they were grinding their scythes at Cogswell’s, he asked them to look at the damage, which was about thirty bushels of barley. There was a creek between the two pieces of property, which cattle did not cross, but it does seem to have been deterred the hogs, which were neither ringed nor yoked. (28)

  • (27: Town Records of Salem (note 4), 64.)
  • (28: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:48-49 (Ipswich, September 1668).  At the next court, Burnham asked for a review of the case. The verdict was for Cogswell again, but he court did not accept this verdict (4:68-70 (Salem, November 1668).)



Edmund and Millicent’s daughter Naomi married Thomas Wells, (29) who could not get along with his neighbors either. A feud erupted at the September 1668 court, with many depositions. (30)

  • (29: There is no record of this marriage; the relationship is established from depositions.)
  • (30: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:49-50 (Ipswich, September 1668).

Wells’s slanderous statements about his neighbor Brabrook brought Edmund (presumably junior) and Benjamin Marshall into court to depose that Wells had often accused Brabrook of being a liar and disrespectful of the Sabbath, saying he was:

a damned wretch and limb of the Devil and was not fit to live upon god’s earth & it was as prone for him to lie as the smoke to fly upwards and on a sacrament day either going or coming it was all one he made no conscience of it.

The low opinion of Brabrook was shared by others. Robert and Anna Crosse also called him a liar. And the Fosters accused him of selling them a drowned heifer, which he claimed was good wholesome meat and said he was doing them a favor because they had a great many small children. But it had been dead three days and “when it came into (the) house they could not endure the stench.” But the couple also reported that Brabrook and John Bayer came to their farm and told them that when Thomas Wells had written the lease between them (Brabrook and Bayer) for his (Wells’) farm, Wells “wrote that he pleased and left out what he pleased and when he read it, he read what he pleased.” Wells was found guilty of slander and required to make acknowledgement in court.

At the next court, in November 1668, it was Robert Cross who sued Thomas Wells for slander.  Wells had said Cross was “a cheating knave and that he (Wells) should have as good trading with the devil as with him, and better, too.” Cross won, and Wells had to make a statement in court to clear Cross’ good name. The depositions indicate that Edmund junr. was age 23 (based on his baptism, he was actually 24). Benjamin aged 21 (actually 22) stated he had lived with Wills the previous winter. (31)

  • (31. Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 4:66-67 (Salem, November 1668).

The squabbling continued at this court, generating numerous depositions and much word-slinging among family and neighbors: “Complaints having been brought in against Robert Cross, Stephen Cross (son of Robert), Benjamin Marshall on the one part, and Thomas Wells (Benjamin Marshall’s brother-in-law) on the other part, for many slanderous, reproachful and threatening speeches, partly against the court and members and partly against the persons of some of the worshipful magistrates.” (32)

  • (32. Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 4:76-82 (Salem, November 1668).

Thomas Wells (aged about 42) and his wife Naomi (aged about 31) deposed that Goodman Cross said:

The Major Denison was disgraced in the court at Boston … the members of Boston court gave him a sharp reproof and the Major Denison was not respected in the court of Boston and Goodman Cross said that there came more appeals from the Ipswich court than any town in the country … and the seamen that belonged to our ketches said that Goodman Cross told them that his sons were set in the stocks and punished for nothing and he told us that the major could not abide him and therefore I fare the worse in the court and my sons also were punished for a matter of nothing.

Mister Bradstreet was the undoing of a man at Watertown … Mister Bradstreet sued him from court to court till he had undone him and made him so poor that he brought him from silk that he wore that he had instead thereof nothing but patched clothes and stockings out at the heels … and the court considered the man so undone the court gave him a sum of money for to help him.

Well reported a similar type of statement from Robert Cross’s son Stephen:

The magistrates sat between the court at dinner drinking burnt sack and when they came into court they were ‘broshing,’ looking red as though they were ‘flustered,’ and acted as though they were all ‘fodeeled.’ To which his father (Steven’s father, Robert Cross) replied that it was the fines they took that fed their fat sides, and the father said further that ‘I looked so big and spoke so sorely’ that he made the court quake.

Stephen Cross, Benjamin Marshall (Well’s brother-in-law), John Bayer testified to Thomas Well’s words that:

Our courts at Ipswich was all one (with) the Inquisition house in Spain: when a man is once brought into court thereof he knows not for what: he had as good be hanged: … old Bradstreet was … vaporing about wondering what became of all the fines: he answers himself: why they keep it to buy sack with all: and let cases go which way they will: they care not so long as they can feast their fat gotes.

Robert Cross, junr., and John Bayer testified to even more scandalous words, that Wells claimed he could “set spells and raise the Devil, he affirming himself to be an artist.” Bayer and Benjamin Marshall reported some fairly juvenile behavior by Wells, relating that one day when they were passing Goodman Brabrook’s, Wells wiped his feet on sheets that were hanging on the fence rails.

Thomas and Naomi Wells justified why they felt compelled to reveal the transgressions of the Crosses and Naomi’s own brother:

It had been the pleasure of god to visit my wife with sickness near unto death and other troubles which I never had tried with all before … we both can affirm those things spoken against the magistrates by those persons … we have sinned against god and his people because we had not revealed it sooner … some have said for Christ says he that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and we apprehend this to be the case … we had rather suffer with a good conscious than not to suffer with an accused conscious.

Seventeen neighbors deposed on behalf of their “beloved neighbors” Thomas Wells and his wife:

We are much grieved and troubled that such things should be laid to their charge … about two years and (a) half they lived about two miles from us … we never found nor understood anything in their speeches or behaviors but that which was good and Christian like, and ever since last April they have lived amongst us … in his discourse being apt to speak or make occasion to discourse or religion and the best things.

Eighteen neighbors signed a petition asking for clemency for Benjamin Marshall (including two who had also signed the petition for Wells), indicating that Benjamin had lived with other families, probably as a farm laborer:

Among whom he hath lived for the most part of the 8th and 9th year of his age till now;  … the good commendation given of him by several in whose families he hath lived, to be an orderly person of quiet disposition, not given to bare anger or a spirit of revenge in labor diligent, dutiful to his parents as they affirm; … Thomas Wells hath often spoke in his commendation (of Benjamin) … now since the court held at Ipswich … Goodman Wells hath given out threatening words against both his brothers Edmund and Benjamin.

Two deposition make it clear that Naomi (Marshall) Wells was a catalyst in the proceedings. Benjamin Marshall’s brother Edmund (aged 23) even tried to indicated that Thomas Wells might have been willing to work things out (and revealing Well’s chauvinistic attitude in the process).

Wells said he had nothing against Benjamin and proffered friendship to them before the deponent’s father and mother (Edmund and Millicent). He wished to see Benjamin and asked to have him ‘Come and reckon with me but not before my wife for it is like(ly) she would rail at him but you must consider: she is but a woman and therefore not come to the house when I am not at home.’

Naomi’s elderly parents, aged 70 and 67, revealed more details:

As for my son Benjamin we never knew him given to malice or revenge in all our lives: not to speak reproachfully of magistrates or of any other: and as for Goodman Cross we have lived by him many years and never heard him speak ill of authority or against any magistrate, but as for our daughter Naomi we do think in our very hearts that certainly in her heart she hates her brothers both Edmund and Benjamin though we speak it with grief of heart, for she would often revile Benjamin and call him rogue before our faces … I told her that I had been in the church of Salem 30 years and upward and never was so detected as your father and I am by you our one child.

The case was proved, and all defendants fined and bound to good behavior.



  1. EDMUND (1) MARSHALL was born about 1598, and his wife MILLICENT _____, was born about 1601, based on depositions they gave in 1668. If these dates are accurate, she had her first child at age 33 and her last at age 45. It is more likely she was born later, closer to 1610. It seems likely that Edmund and Millicent were married in England, and that their son John was born there. Edmund and Millicent were living in November 1668 when they gave depositions, but he died before the September 1673 inventory of his meager estate: (33)

bedding, blankets and pillows     4li.   13 s.

wearing clothes                            2li.   14 s.

new cloth                                      1li.

two hats                                                9s.

one pot and skillet                               13 s.

two chairs                                              3 s.

one chest                                              6 s.

one loom and tackling                 2 li.   1 s.

three cows                                  12 li.

Total                                           23 li.   19 s.

At the May 1674 court, James Colman, who had become the husband of Sarah Marshall, was granted the administration of Edmund’s estate. Sons Benjamin and Edmund were still in the area, but they both admitted their satisfactions with the one cow granted them by their father on his deathbed, with the remainder going to James Colman. (35) From this it would seem likely that James and Sarah had lived with the elder Marshalls and had cared for them.

  • (33: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:313-14 (Salem, May 1674)
  • (34: There is no record of this marriage; the relationship is established from the depositions.)
  • (35: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:313-14 (Salem, May 1674))

Children of Edmund and Millicent (____) Marshall, all except John and Benjamin baptized at the First Church of Salem. (36)

  • (36: Millicent was named as the mother only in the court record for Benjamin.)

i. JOHN (2) MARSHALL, b. say 1634, probably in England; d. probably by 1674 when he did not appear in the agreement about his father’s estate. He was referred to as brother of Edmund, junr., in 1663, at which time he also deposed. (37) Thomas Burnham testified in 1682 that twenty years earlier (i.e., about 1662) John Marshall had been the proprietor of Richard Brabrook’s farm and that they had mowed some hay. Benjamin Marshall testified that about twenty-five or twenty-six years earlier (i.e., about 1656-57), he lived “with his brother John Marshall and Edward (sic) Marshall, which farm was then Richard Brabrook’s.” (38)

  • (37: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 3:87 (Ipswich, September 1663).)
  • (38: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16: Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)

2  ii. NAOMI MARSHALL, bp. 24 11th month (Jan.) 1636(/7); (39) m. Thomas Wells.

  • (39: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)

iii. ANN MARSHALL, bp. 15 2nd month (April) 1638; (40) possibly d. young.

  • (40: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. RUTH MARSHALL, bp 3 3rd month (May) 1640; (41) possibly d. young.
  • (41: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 17; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. v. SARAH MARSHALL, bp. 29 3rd month (May) 1642; (42) m. James Colman.
  • (42: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 19; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. vi. EDMUND MARSHALL, bp. 16 4th month (June) 1644; (43) m. (1) Martha Huggins; (2) Lydia (Morgan) Pierce.
  • (43: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 20; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. vii. BENJAMIN MARSHALL, b. Salem 12 or 18 2nd month (April) 1646; (44) m. Prudence Woodward.
  • (44: Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57; Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:108 (Ipswich, September 1668).)


  1. NAOMI (2) MARSHALL (Edmund 1) was baptized at the First Church of Salem 24 11th month (January) 1636(/7). Based on the birth of their oldest child, she married about 1655 Thomas Wells, shipwright, (45) who was born about 1626 (since he was age 42 in the 1668 deposition given above). (46)
  • (45: Warrant to Thomas Wells, ship carpenter, in Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:77 (Salem, November 1668).)
  • (46: This Thomas Wells is shown (but with no evidence) as the son of Nathaniel Well(e)s of Westerly, Rhode Island, in Albert Wells, History of the Welles Family (New York; the author, 1875), 142-43.)

Naomi and Thomas resided in Boston between 1656 and 1665, when three of their children were born there. (47) They returned to Ipswich by 1668, as shown by their numerous appearances in the Essex court records that year, but shortly thereafter they moved to Westerly, Rhode Island.

  • (47: Thomas Wells apparently joined the First Church of Boston in 1661, based on the baptismal records of his two oldest children; on March 1661 his son Joseph was called son of Naomi Wells, while on 4 December 1661 his son Thomas was called son of Ann (sic) and Tho; Wells (see below: 48)

In July of 1667, Thomas Wells bought from Amos Richardson of Stonington 180 acres in the area under dispute between Rhode Island and Connecticut, agreeing to pay for it by building ship(s) of fifty tons in all. In 1679 he was warned out of Westerly, so he refused to build the ship(s), for which he was imprisoned in March of 1680 by the constable (Richardson’s son), whom the Rhode Island authorities then arrested in retaliation. (48)

  • (48: John Osborne Austin, The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing co., 1969), 218.)

Thomas Wells senr. and junr. appear on a list of Westerly freeman (with lot assignments) dated 7 March 1679/80, (49) although it wasn’t until the town meeting of 28 March 1692 that the hundred-acre lot 40 was granted to Thomas Wells senr., (50) and at the subsequent meeting 1 April 1692 that they “voated Thomas wells senr Admitted freeman of ye town.” (51)

  • (49: Westerly Town Record, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (1661-1706/7), 1 (FHL 0,940,222, item 4). The town records are in one part of the book and the land records in another. All westerly citations use stamped page numbers to agree with the index. The date is at the top of the right-hand column. Thomas Wells junr. had lot 47, Thomas Wells senr. had lot 40.)
  • (50: Ibid., 15.)
  • (51: Ibid., 16.)

The settlers in Westerly acquired their land from the Narragansett Indians, and on 23 August 1698 Thomas Wells witnessed a deed from Nenegreate (the son), sachem of the Narragansett Indians, to Capt. William Champlin. (52)

  • (52: Ibid., 55.)

Thomas Wells left a will at Westerly dated 24 December 1699, proved 12 February 1699/1700, (53) and the wording of the will indicates Naomi was the mother of all his children. He does not seem to have planned his will in advance. He dictated and signed a document that was deficient in several areas, then simply added an unsigned codicil to fix the omissions.

  • (53: Westerly Town Council and Probate Records, 2/1 (1699-1719), 6-8 (FHL 0,930,805, item 1). Naomi Wells presented the will with an inventory totaling £8.16.0 made 2 February 1700 by Thomas Reynolds, Peter Crandall, and Thomas Burdick. The will was proved 12 February 1699/1700.)

The last will and testament of Thomas Wells gent being in good understanding through gods mercy do make this my last will and testament as followeth my eldest son Joseph Wells hath already received his full doubell portion and more as may appear if need require yet not withstanding I give him five shillings at my desease. My son Thomas Wells I hve alredy given him his portion in a horse and neat cattle valued at seven pounds in pay; my eldest daughter Mary Wells and my daughter Ruth Wells have had thire portions already which are desseas(e)d (blot over the e, first and third s are a long s) ^and^ (interlined) my daughter Sarah Wells and my son John Wells and my son Nathaniel Wells have had thire portions in what small matters I had whereunto I sett my hand and seale the date desember 24:1699. (signed) Thomas Wells. (witnesses) Joseph Maxson, Stephen Randall his mark.

In the name of god amen be it known to whome it may consurne that I Thomas Wells senr being neer death doe comit my soule to god and my body to my frinds and to my deare belloved wife I doe make her executers (sic) of what estate I leave during her natural life and at her despose; And further I doe desir that my son Thomas Wells and my son John Wells and my son Nathaniel Wells do take the best care you can of my Loveing wife and what she hase and if she should be taken away suddenly what she leaves shall be devided amongst these three sons above named hoping they woulde take care of thire deear mother my loving wife Najomey Wells.

Children of Thomas and Naomi (Marshall) Wells:

  1. JOSEPH WELLS, b. Boston 7 June 1656, (54) bp. First Church, Boston, 3 1st month (March) 1661; (53) m. Stonington 28 Dec. 1681 Hannah Reynolds, (56) daughter of John Reynolds. (57) In his will, made 26 Oct. 1711 and proved 12 Feb. 1711/12, Joseph Wells, shipcarpenter of Groton, Conn., named wife Hannah: sons Joseph, John and Thomas Wells; and unmarried daughter Anne Wells. (58)
  • (54: (Ninth) Report of the Record Commissioners Containing Boston Birth, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths: 1630-1699 (Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, 1883), 55 (town records).)
  • (55: (Ninth) Report of the Record Commissioners Containing Boston Birth, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths: 1630-1699 (Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, 1883), 82 (church records).)
  • (56: Thomas Minor, The Diary of Thomas Minor, Stonington, Connecticut, 1653 to 1684, Sidney H. Minor and George D. Stanton, Jr., ed. (New London, Conn,: Day Publishing, 1899), 170 (“the 28 day (December 1681) Joseph wells was married & Hanah Reynolds were married”).)
  • (57: Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 218.)
  • (58: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 16301699 (note 54), 80 (town record).)
  1. THOMAS WELLS, b. Boston 4 Dec 1661, (59) bp. First Church, Boston, 8 10th month (Dec.) 1661; (60) m. Sarah ____. (61) Thomas Wells junior was chosen constable of Westerly for the year 1691. (62) On 1 Jan 1694(?/5) Thomas Wells made a deed of gift to his brothers John and Nathaniel; it was signed by Thomas and Sarah Wells. (63) On 22 Nov. 1705 Thomas Wells bought a hundred acres from James Davell. (64) In his will, made 11 April 1716 and probated 9 July 1716, Thomas Wells named a daughter Sarah, sons Thomas and Edward (to whom he gave his carpentry tools in addition to land), and his wife Sarah. (65) Children: 1. Sarah Wells. 2. Thomas Wells. 3. Edward Wells.
  • (59: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 80 (town record).)
  • (60: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 83 (church record).)
  • (61: She was not Sarah Rogers, as is sometimes stated. Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 217-18, shows Sarah Rogers, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Rogers, as wife of Thomas Wells of East Greenwich, son of Peter of Kingston.)
  • (62: Westerly Town Records, land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 15.)
  • (63: Acknowledged 22 April 1695. Westerly Land Evidences, 2 (1707-1717), 73 (FHL 0,940,222, item 5.)
  • (64: Westerly Town Records, land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 106.)
  • (65: Westerly Town Council and Probate Records, 2/1 (note 53), 105-6)

iii. MARY WELLS, b. Boston 15 April 1665, (66) m. Stonington 14 Jan 1689 Ezekiel Main(e), Jr. (67) Mary d. 12 Jan 1693, and Ezekiel m. (2) Stonington 22 Oct. 1695 Hannah Rose. (68) Child: Ezekiel Main(e), b. Stonington 15 Dec. 1690; d. there 24 Dec. 1691. (69)

  • (66: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 98 (town record).)
  • (67: Stonington Vital Records, 1:80 (marriage performed by Capt. Samuel Mason, recorded with the birth of a son on 15 December 1690 and his subsequent death on 24 December 1691): and 2:54 (family group entry for Ezekiel Maine’s family). It has not been determined whether Mary’s marriage was in 1688/9 or in 1689/90.)
  • (68: Stonington Vital Records, 2:54. It is not clear whether Mary died in 1692/3 or 1693/4.)
  • (69: Stonington Vital Records, 1:80)

iv: RUTH WELLS. Her father’s will indicated she was deceased by 1699 and may have been married; however, it is unlikely she married James Kenyon. (70)

  • (70: Patricia Law Hatcher, “Enigmas #18: Ruth, Wife of James 2 Kenyon of Rhode Island,” The American Genealogist 78 (2003): 306-8.)
  1. SARAH WELLS, b. Ipswich 27 Aug 1668. (71) On 11 April 1720 Thomas Wells made a deed of gift of 12 acres to his “aunt Sarah Wells … single woman.” (72)
  • (71: Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 3 vols. (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1910-19), 1:389 (Sarah, d. Thomas, citing court record).)
  • (72: Westerly Land Evidences, 3 (1717-1728), 34 (FHL 0,940,222, item 6; very faint). This Thomas Wells was evidently the son of either Joseph or Thomas, Sarah’s older brothers.)

vi. JOHN WELLS, b. by say 1673 (estimating freeman at age 25); m. before 1 April 1701, Mary ____. On 13 June 1698 he was admitted a freeman of Westerly. (73) On 1 April 1701 John and Nathaniel agreed to divide the hundred acres given to them by their brother Thomas. (74) On that same day John Wells sold fifty acres to Daniel Lewis. The deed was signed by John and Mary, both by mark, with Nathaniel Wells as witness. (75)

  • (73: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 51), 21.)
  • (74: Westerly Land Evidences, Book 2 (1707-1717), 73 (FHL 0,940,222, item 5)
  • (75: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 51), 30.)

vii. NATHANIEL WELLS, b. by say 1680 (estimating freeman at age 25); m. ca. 1706, Mary Crandall, b. ca. 1686, d. 1763, daughter of Joseph and Deborah (Burdick) Crandall. (76) On 19 Oct 1705 Nathaniel Wells was admitted a freeman of Westerly. (77) In his will, made 5 July 1763 and probated at Hopkinton, R.I., 1 May 1769, Nathaniel Wells names son Jonathan and daughters Naomi Kenyon and Tacy Burdick. (78) Children, born at Westerly: (79)

  1. Naomi Wells, b. 11 May 1707, m. Westerly 15 Sept. 1726 Peter Kenyon. (80)
  2. Elizabeth Wells, b. 9 Jan. 1709/10.
  3. Jonathan Wells, b. 22 June 1712, m. Westerly 29 Nov. 1734 Elizabeth Maxson. (81)
  4. Tace/Tacy Wells, b. 4 Jan. 1714/15, m. ca. 1734 Hubbard Burdick. (82)
  5. Ruth Wells, b. 22 Jan. 1717/18.
  • (76: John Cortland Crandall, Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants (New Woodstock, N.Y.: the author, 1949), 7-8, 11-12.)
  • (77: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 40.)
  • (78: Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 218; also abstracted in Rhode Island Genealogical Register 4 (1981): 138, from Hopkinton Wills, 1:123.)
  • (79: Birth dates of children for Nathaniel and Mary are from Westerly Town Records, 2:127 (FHL 0,930,813), recorded on the day that Ruth was born. Crandall, Elder John Crandall (note 76), 11-12, gives them additional children Thomas and Deborah.)


One thing Miss Hatcher does not mention in regard to Thomas Wells is that he may have lived in New London before he was living in Salem/Ipswich, Mass.  According to “History of New London Connecticut” by Frances Manwaring Caulkins, Page 60, a Thomas Wells received a land grant in New London, dated Feb. 16, 1649-50. This date would mean that Thomas was in New London at the same time Naomi Marshall moved there with her parents circa 1651.  In 1651, Naomi would have been 15 years old. Seems young now, but I’m thinking back then it was time to start looking for a husband. Thomas was only a few years older than her. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I picture their eyes meeting on the way into church. Who knows …

Here’s the rub against my romantic grain and something Miss Hatcher left out.

“History of New London Connecticut” by Frances Manwaring Caulkins. Published 1895. Pages 355-356.
“Thomas Wells was one of the early band of planters at Pequot Harbor; probably on the ground in 1648, and certainly in 1649. He was a carpenter, and worked with Elderkin, on mills and meeting houses. The last notice of him on the town record is in 1661, when Wells and Elderkin were employed to repair the turret of the meeting-house. No account can be found of the sale of his house or land. He may have left the settlement, or he maybe concealed from our view by dwelling on a farm remote from the center of business.
A Thomas Wells whether another of the same has not been ascertained is found at Stonington or Westerly, about the year 1677, engaged in constructing vessels at a ship-yard on the Pawkatuck River. He is styled,”of Ipswich, shipwright.”

So the questions is … is the Thomas Wells who lived in New London at the same time as the Marshalls, the same one who ended up in Ipswich/Salem and married Naomi??? If he was a carpenter in New London in 1661, he could not have married Naomi in Massachusetts in 1655.

What we know for sure … We know that the Thomas who married Naomi in 1655 in Massachusetts is our ancestor. What I’m less certain of is that the Thomas Wells in New London is related to us at all.  It seems New London Thomas just faded from the records. No marriage, no death. That seems odd to me.

What are your thoughts? Do you have another piece of the puzzle to add to this discussion. If so, I’d love to hear from you.



19 May 2018: Rogers History where you least expect it. May 19, 2018

My mother and I had a yard sale yesterday. When it slowed down a little, I picked up this book off a pile of books we were selling and started to peruse its pages.

Geography of the Americas

It’s an old grammar school textbook that was published in 1945. It had belonged to my father, though I don’t think it was his in school.  It’s actually an interesting book, but I immediately stopped skimming at page 68 when I spotted this picture:

Take a close look because that’s the old town mill in New London, Connecticut that was originally worked by John Rogers back in the 1600’s.  Here’s an old postcard of the mill from about the same angle.

Old Town Mill in New London

I have a little collection of images of the mill but I didn’t have the one in this book. It’s nice to see our heritage in a textbook!



12 April 2018: Those crazy Rogerenes … Recapturing the beef for Christ April 12, 2018

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’ve been a bad genealogist as of late. I’ve been hoping to move soon so I’ve been spending a lot of time quilting.  You’re probably wondering how these two things are related. I want to have a little to move as possible, but as a quilter I have a large collection of fabric. I’m finishing off a scrap quilt (a quilt made entirely of fabric I already had) and by doing so reducing the amount of fabric in my large plastic totes. Yes, I’ll have to move the quilt when it’s done, but it’s the principal of the thing.  I’m sure you understand 🙂

Deciding I needed to get back to posting interesting family info, I’ve been working on a good transcription of a Rogers’ chapter of Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of New London, Connecticut.  Specifically chapter XIV, entitled: The Rogers Family and the Sect of Rogerenes.  There’s a really bad transcription of it online, but it’s a scan that was never proofed and FULL OF ERRORS. I’ve attempted to fix those errors thereby making it a copy that you can copy and paste into your own genealogy programs.

Below my transcription are some thoughts and questions of mine on the chapter, so keep reading to the end. 

If you’re going to reference any of the below, here’s how you can cite the source: History of New London, Connecticut from the first Survey of the Coast in 1612 to by 1860 by  Frances Manwaring Caulkins.  New London: Published by H.D. Utley, 1895. Chapter XIV: The Rogers Family and the Sect of Rogerenes, Pages 201-221.

Since mine is a transcription, I’ve inserted the citation footnotes into the text in parentheses.

Chapter XIV: The Rogers Family, and the Sect of Rogerenes.

The unity of religious worship in New London, was first interrupted by James Rogers and his sons. A brief account of the family will lead to the history of their religious doctrines.

James Rogers is supposed to be the James Rogers, who came to America, in the Increase, 1635, aged 20. (Gleanings. Mass. Illst. Coll., 2nd series, vol. 8, p. 161.) As James Rogers, he is first known to us at Stratford, where he married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Rowland, (Samuel Rowland left his farm to Samuel Rogers, his grandson, which leads to the supposition that Elizabeth was his only child.) and is afterward found at Milford, where his wife united with Mr. Prudden’s church in 1645, and himself in 1652. Their children were, Samuel, whose birth has not been found on record, but his will, dated Feb. 12th, 1712-13, states his age to be “72 and upwards,” which will place it in 1640;

  • Joseph, baptized in Milford, 1646;
  • John, in 1648;
  • Bathsheba, in 1650;
  • James, not recorded, but next in order:
  • Jonathan, born Dec. 31st, 1655;
  • Elizabeth, 1658.

Mr. Rogers had dealings in New London in 1656, and between that time and 1660, fixed himself permanently in the plantation. Here he soon acquired property and influence, and was much employed both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs. He was six times representative to the General Court. Mr. Winthrop had encouraged his settlement in the place, and had accommodated him with a portion of his own house lot, next to the mill, on which Rogers built a dwelling-house of stone. (This spot was afterward re-purchased by the Winthrop family, and was the site of the house built by John Still Winthrop, and now owned by C A. Lewis, Esq.)  He was a baker on a large scale, often furnishing biscuit for seamen, and for colonial troops, and between 1660 and 1670 had a greater interest in the trade of the port than any other person in the place. His landed possessions were very extensive, consisting of several hundred acres on the Great Neck, the fine tract of land at Mohegan called the Pamechaug farm, several house lots in town, and twenty-four hundred acres east of the river, which he held in partnership with Col. Pyncheon, of Springfield.

Perhaps no one of the early settlers of New London, numbers at the present day so great a throng of descendants as James Rogers. His five sons are the progenitors of as many distinct lines, each tracing to its immediate founder, and seldom cognizant of their common ancestor. His daughters were women of great energy of character. Elizabeth married Samuel Beeby; Bathsheba married first Richard Smith, and second Samuel Fox. She was an early seceder from the church, courting persecution and much persecuted.

Samuel Rogers married, Nov. 17th, 1664, Mary, daughter of Thomas Stanton; the parents of the two parties, entering into a formal contract, and each pledging £200 as a marriage portion to the couple. Mr. Rogers, in fulfillment of his bond, conveyed to his son his stone house and bakery, at the head of Winthrop’s (or Mill) Cove, where the latter commenced his housekeeping and dwelt for fifteen or twenty years. He then removed to the out-lands of the town, near the Mohegan tribe, and became the first English settler within the limits of the present town of Montville.

Joseph, James and Jonathan Rogers, though living at first in the town plot, removed to farms upon the Great Neck, given them by their father. Like most active men of that time, they had a variety of occupations, each and all operating as tradesmen, mechanics, boatmen, seamen and farmers.

James, the fourth son, married, November 5th, 1674, Mary, daughter of Jeffrey Jordan, of Ireland. According to tradition, he commanded a vessel which brought over from Ireland, a number of redemptioners, and among them a family of the name of Jordan. On their arrival he became the purchaser of the oldest daughter, Mary, and married her. In after life he was accustomed to say, sportively, that it was the richest cargo he ever shipped, and the best bargain he ever made. Several of his descendants of the same name in a right line, were sea-captains.

John Rogers, the third son of James, having become conspicuous as the founder of a sect, which, though small in point of numbers, has been of considerable local notoriety, requires a more extended notice. No man in New London county was at one time more noted than he; no one suffered so heavily from the arm of the law, the tongue of rumor, and the pen of contemporary writers. His followers still exist, a handful indeed, but yet a distinct people, venerating the name of their founder, and esteeming him a man eminent for piety and filled with the love of God and his neighbor. His opponents, on the other hand, have left us an image of the man that excites not only indignation and pity, but profound disgust. Ample materials exist on both sides for his history, but the two faces of Janus could not be more unlike. Rogers himself produced tracts and treatises in abundance, which often refer to his own experience; and his followers have been, to a considerable degree, a print-loving people. His son, John Rogers the second, was a ready writer. John Bolles, a noted disciple, was fluent with the pen, and adroit in argument; and the family of Watrous, the more recent leaders of the sect, have issued various pamphlets, to vindicate their course and record their sufferings. This is not therefore a one-sided case, in which the arraigned have had no one to speak for them. It may be said, however, with truth, that the accounts on one side have been but little consulted, and that the statements which have had the widest circulation, come from the opponents of the Rogerenes. This may be regarded as a sufficient reason for entering more at large upon their origin and history.

John Rogers was married, Oct. 17th, 1670, at Black Hall, in Lyme, to Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold. The rite was performed by the father of the bride, and accompanied with the formality of a written contract and dowry; the husband settling his farm at Upper Mamacock, on the wife, in case of his death, or separation from her, during her life. On this farm, two miles north of New London, after their marriage, they dwelt, and had two children:

  • Elizabeth, born Nov. 8th, 1671.
  • John, born March 20th, 1674.

James Rogers and his wife and children, and those connected with the latter as partners in marriage, with the exception of Samuel Rogers and wife, all became dissenters in some sort from the established Congregational church, which was then the only one recognized by the laws of the land. The origin of this dissent may be traced to an intercourse which began in the way of trade, with the Sabbatarians, or Seventh-day Baptists of Rhode Island. John and James Rogers, Jun., first embraced the Sabbatarian principles, and were baptized in 1674; Jonathan, in 1675: James Rogers, Sen., with his wife and daughter Bathsheba, in 1676, and these were received as members of the Seventh -day church at Newport. Jonathan Rogers still further cemented his union with the Seventh-day community, by marriage with Naomi Burdick, a daughter of one of the elders of the church. Of the baptism of Joseph Rogers we have no account. His wife went down into the water on Sunday, Nov. 24th, 1677, near the house of Samuel Rogers, at the head of Winthrop’s Cove. Elders Hubbard and Hiscox, from Rhode Island, were present, and it was expected that one of them would perform the rite; but the town authorities having interfered and requested them to do it elsewhere, on account of the noise and tumult that might ensue, they acquiesced in the reasonableness of the proposal, and declined acting on the occasion. But John Rogers would assent to no compromise, and assuming on the spot the authority of an elder, and the responsibility of the act, he led the candidate into the water, and performed the baptism. (A more particular account of this affair may be found in Backus’ Church History’ and in Benedict’s History of the Baptists, vol. 2, p. 422.)

From this time forth, John Rogers began to draw off from the Sabbatarians, and to broach certain peculiar notions of his own. He assumed the ministerial offices of baptizing and preaching, and having gained a few disciples, originated a new sect, forming a church or society, which were called Rogerenes, or Rogerene Quakers, and sometimes Rogerene Baptists.

A great and predominant trait of the founder of the sect, and of his immediate followers, was their determination to be persecuted. They were aggressive, and never better pleased than when by shaking the pillars, they had brought down the edifice upon their own heads. They esteemed it a matter of duty, not only to suffer fines, distrainment, degradation, imprisonment and felonious penalties with patience, but to obtrude themselves upon the law, and challenge its power, and in fact to persecute others, by interrupting their worship, and vehemently denouncing what they esteemed sacred. This point the followers of Rogers have abrogated. At the present day they never molest the worship of others, and are themselves unmolested.

In respect to the most important articles of Christianity, Rogers was strenuously orthodox. He held to salvation by faith in Christ, the Trinity, the new birth, the resurrection of the just and unjust, and an eternal judgment. He maintained also obedience to the civil government, except in matters of conscience and religion. A town or country rate the Rogerenes always considered themselves bound to pay, but the minister’s rate they abhorred — denouncing as unscriptural all interference of the civil power in the worship of God. Of their peculiar characteristics a brief summary must here suffice.

In respect to baptism, and the rejection of the first day Sabbath, they agree with the Sabbatarians, but they diverge from them on other points. They consider all days alike in respect to sanctity, and though they meet for religious purposes on the first day of the week, when the exercise is over, they regard themselves as free to labor as on any other day. They have no houses set apart for public worship, and regard a steeple, a pulpit, a cushion, a church, and a salaried minister in a black suit of clothes, as utter abominations. They hold that a public oath is like any other swearing, a profanation of the Holy Name, and plainly forbidden in Scriptures. They make no prayers in public worship or in the family: John Rogers conceived that all prayers should be mental and not vocal, except on special occasions when the Spirit of God moving within, prompted the use of the voice. They use no means for the recovery of health, except care, kindness and attention, considering all resort to drugs, medicines and physicians, as sinful.

The entire rejection of the Sabbath, and of a resident ministry, were opinions exceedingly repugnant to the community at large, and were rendered more so by the violent and obtrusive manner in which they were propagated. Their author went boldly forth, exhorting and testifying in streets, disturbing public worship, and courting persecution with an eagerness that seemed akin to an aspiration after martyrdom. His creed was also exceedingly distasteful to the regular Seventh-day people. It was probably in opposition to them, that having his choice of days, as regarding them equal in point of sanctity, he held his meetings for religious purposes on the first rather than on the seventh day.

In 1676, the fines and imprisonments of James Rogers and his sons, for profanation of the Sabbath, commenced. For this, and for neglect of worship, they and some of their followers were usually arraigned at every session of court, for a long course of years. The fine was at first five shillings, then ten shillings, then fifteen shillings. At the June court in 1677, the following persons were arraigned, and each fined £5.

James Rogers, senior, for high-handed, presumptuous profanation of the Sabbath, by attending to his work; Elizabeth Rogers, his wife, and James and Jonathan Rogers, for the same.

John Rogers, on examination, said he had been hard at work making shoes on the first day of the week, and he would have done the same had the shop stood under the window of Mr. Wetherell’s house; yea, under the window of the meeting-house.

Bathshua Smith, for fixing a scandalous paper on the meeting- house.

Mary, wife of James Rogers, junior, for absence from public worship.

Again in September, 1677, the court ordered that John Rogers should be called to account once a month, and fined £5 each time; others of the family were amerced to the same amount for blasphemy against the Sabbath, calling it an idol, and for stigmatizing the reverend ministers as hirelings. After this, sitting in the stocks and whipping were added.

In May, 1678, (says Backus,) Joseph Clarke wrote to his father Hubbard, from Westerly, that John and James Rogers, with their father, were in prison; having previously excommunicated Jonathan, chiefly because he did not retain their judgment of the unlawfulness of using medicine, nor accuse himself before authority of working on the first day of the week.

Jonathan Rogers now stood alone among the brothers, adhering steadfastly to the Sabbatarian principles, from which he never swerved. His family became the nucleus of a small society of this denomination on the Great Neck, which has ever since existed. From generation to generation they connected themselves with churches of their own faith in Rhode Island, at first with that of Newport:, and afterward with that of Hopkinton and Westerly, until in the year 1784, 109 years after the baptism of their founder, Jonathan Rogers, they were organized into a distinct church and society. A further account of the Seventh-day community on the Neck will be given in the sequel of our history.

In 1680, the magistrates of Connecticut, giving an account of the colony to the Lords of Trade and Plantations, say:

“Our people in this colony arc some strict Congregational men, other more large Congregational men, and some moderate Presbyterians, &c. — there are four or six seventh-day men, and about so many more Quakers.” (Hinman’s Antiquities, p. 142.)

These Quakers and Seventh-day men were probably all in New London, and nearly all in the Rogers family. The elder James Rogers was an upright, circumspect man. There is no account of any dealings with him and his wife on account of their secession from Mr. Bradstreet’s church. No vote of expulsion or censure is recorded. Of his latter years little is known. Elder Hubbard, of Newport, is quoted by Backus as stating that Mr. Rogers had one of his limbs severely bruised by the wheel of a loaded cart that passed over it, and that he himself saw him when he had remained for six weeks in a most deplorable condition, strenuously refusing the use of means to alleviate his sufferings, but patiently waiting in accordance with his principles, to be relieved by faith. Whether he recovered from this injury or not is unknown. His death occurred in February, 1687-8, when the government of Sir Edmund Andross was paramount in New England. His will was therefore proved in Boston. The first settlement of the estate was entirely harmonious. The children in accordance with the earnest request of their father, made an amicable division of the estate, which was sanctioned by the General Court, May 12th, 1692.

The original will of Mr. Rogers is on file in the probate office of New London. It is in the handwriting of his son John, and remarkable for the simple solemnity of its preamble.

“The Last Will and Testament of James Rogers Senr, being in perfect memory and understanding but under the hand of God by sickness: – this I leave with my wife and children, sons and daughters, I being old and knowing that the time of my departure is at hand.

“What I have of this world I leave among you, desiring you not to fall out or contend about it; but let your love one to another appear more than to the estate I leave with you, which is but of this world.

“And for your comfort I signify to you that I have a perfect assurance of an interest in Jesus Christ and an eternal happy state in the world to come, and do know and see that my name is written in the book of life, and therefore mourn not for me, as they that are without hope.”

In a subsequent part of the document he says:

“If any difference should arise, &c, my will is, that there shall be no lawing among my children before earthly Judges, but that the controversy be ended by lot, and so I refer to the judgment of God, and as the lot comes forth, so shall it be.”

In this respect unfortunately the will of the father was never accomplished: his children, notwithstanding their first pacific arrangement, engaged afterward in long and acrimonious contention, respecting boundaries, in the course of which earthly judges were often obliged to interfere and enforce a settlement.

Soon after John Rogers connected himself with the Sabbatarians, his wife left him and returned to her father. In May, 1675, she applied to the legislature for a divorce, grounding her plea not only upon the heterodoxy of her husband, but upon certain alleged immoralities. The court, after the delay of nearly a year and a half, granted her petition.

At a session of the General Court, held at Hartford, October 12th, 1676:

“The Court having considered the petition of Elizabeth Rogers, the wife of John Rogers, for a release from her conjugal bond to her husband, with all the allegations and proofs presented, to clear the righteousness of her desires, do find just cause to grant her desire, and do free her from her conjugal bond to the said John Rogers.”

By a subsequent act of Assembly, (October, 1677,) she was allowed to retain her two children wholly under her own charge; the court giving as a reason the heterodoxy of Rogers, both in opinion and practice, he having declared in open court that he utterly renounced the visible worship of New England, and regarded the Christian Sabbath as a mere invention.

Rogers was incensed at these decisions of the court. The bill of divorce did not specify any offense on his part, as the base upon which it was granted, and he ever afterward maintained that they had taken away his wife without rendering to him, or to the public, any reason why they had done it. He seems to have long cherished the hope that she would repent of her desertion, and return to him; but in less than two years she married again.

“Peter Pratt was married unto Elisabeth Griswold, that was divorced from John Rogers, 5th of August, 1679.” (Recorded in Lyme.)

The children of Rogers remained with their mother during their childhood, but both when they became old enough to act for themselves, preferred to live with their father. Elizabeth was sent to him by her mother, of her own free will, when she was about fourteen years of age, and resided with him till 1689 or 1690, when she was married to Stephen Prentis, of Bruen’s Neck. At her wedding, her brother John, then about fifteen years of age, came also to his father, by permission of his mother, to stay as long as he pleased. She afterward sent a constable forcibly to reclaim him, and he was seized and carried back to Lyme; yet he soon returned to his father, embraced his doctrines, (In the phraseology of the sect, he discipled in with him immediately.) and pursued a similar course of itinerant testimony against the public worship of the land.

An agreement was signed in 1687, by which Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold, senior, engages to relinquish all claim to the Mamacock farm, “provided John Rogers will pay her £30 and never trouble her father about the farm again.” By this arrangement the farm reverted to Rogers, and his son, John Rogers, junior, marrying his cousin, Bathsheba Smith, settled at Mamacock. There, notwithstanding his long testimony and his many weary trials and imprisonments, he reared to maturity a family of eighteen children, most of them like their parents, sturdy Rogerenes. (John Rogers, 2d, by his two wives had twenty children: two died in infancy.) Mamacock, and the neighboring highland over which they spread, has ever since been known as Quaker Hill.

Peter Pratt, the second husband of Elizabeth Griswold, died March 24th, 1688. Shortly afterward she contracted a third marriage with Matthew Beck with, 2d. (By this third marriage she had one daughter, Griswold Bekwith, afterward the wife of Eliakim Cooley, junior, of Springfield.) By the second marriage with Mr. Pratt, she had a son, Peter, who while a young man, studying for the profession of the law, in New London, very naturally renewed his youthful intimacy with his half-brother, John Rogers, junior, of Mamacock. This brought him often into the company of the elder Rogers, to whose exhortations he listened complacently, till at length embracing his dogmas and becoming his disciple, he received baptism at his hands, and endured fines, imprisonment and public abuse, on account of his Quakerism. But after a time, leaving New London, and entering upon other associations, he relinquished the Rogerene cause, and made a public acknowledgment that he had labored under a delusion. Still further to manifest the sincerity of his recantation, he wrote an account of his lapse and recovery, entitled: The Prey taken from the Strong, or an Historical Account of the Recovery of one from the dangerous errors of Quakerism.”

In this narrative, Rogers is drawn, not only as an obstinate, heterodox enthusiast, but many revolting circumstances are added, which would justify the greatest odium ever cast upon him. It was not published till 1724, three years after the death of Rogers. He could not therefore answer for himself, but the indignation of the son was roused, and in defense of his father, he entered into controversy with his brother, and published a rejoinder, from which portions of the preceding narrative have been taken. He meets the charges against the moral and domestic character of his father, with a bold denial of their truth; but his erratic course in matters of faith and religious practice, he makes no attempt to palliate, these being points in which he himself, and the whole sect, gloried. He denies, however, that his father was properly classed among Quakers, observing:

“In his lifetime he was the only man in Conn, colony, I have ever heard of, that did publicly in print oppose the Quakers in those main principles wherein they differ from other sects.”

But the term Quaker had been firmly fixed upon them by their opponents, and they were customarily confounded with the Ranters, or Ranting Quakers, known in the early days of the colony. Yet they never came under the severe excision of the law enacted against those people in 1656 and 1658; that is, they were never forcibly transported out of the colony, nor were others prohibited from intercourse with them. Yet John Rogers states that under the provisions of this law his books were condemned and burnt as heretical. The law itself was disallowed and made void by an act of the Queen in Council, October 11th, 1705. There were other laws, however, by which the Rogerenes were convicted. By the early code of Connecticut, absence from public worship was to be visited by a penalty of five shillings; labor on the Sabbath, twenty shillings; and the performance of church ordinances by any other person than an approved minister of the colony, or an attendance thereupon, £5.

Though in most of the cases of arrest and punishment, the Rogerenes were the aggressors, and drew down the arm of the law on their own heads, it must be acknowledged that they encountered a vigorous and determined opposition. Offense was promptly met by penalty. Attempts were made to weary them out, and break them up by a series of fines, imposed upon presentments of the grand jury. These fines were many times repeated, and the estates of the offenders melted under the seizures of the constable, as snow melts before the sun. The course was a cruel one, and by no means popular. At length the magistrates could scarcely find an officer willing to perform the irksome task of distraining. And it is probable that all penalties would have been silently dropped, had they not kept up the aggressive system of testifying, as it was called; that is, presenting themselves in the religious assemblies of their neighbors, to utter their testimony against the worship. In this line, John Rogers, and the elder sister, were the principal offenders; often carrying their work into meeting, and interrupting the service with exclamations and protests against what was said or done.

The records of the county court abound with instances to verify these statements. Only a sample will be given:

“April 14th, 1685. Judge’s upon the bench, Fitch, Avery and Wetherell. John Rogers, James Rogers, Jr., Samuel Beebee, Jr., and Joanna Way, are complained of for profaning God’s holy day by servile work, and are grown to the height of impiety as to come at several times into the town to re-baptize several persons; and when God’s people were met together on the Lord’s day to worship God, several of them came and made great disturbance, behaving themselves in such a frantic manner as if possessed with a diabolical spirit, so affrighting and amazing that several women swooned and fainted away. John Rogers to be whipped fifteen lashes, and for unlawfully re-baptizing to pay £5. The others to be whipped.”

One of the most notorious instances of contempt exhibited by Rogers against the religious worship of his fellow- townsmen, was the sending of a wig to a contribution made in aid of the ministry. This was in derision of the full-bottomed wigs then worn by the clergy. It was sent by some one who deposited it in his name in the contribution box that was passed around in meeting. Rogers relished a joke, and was often represented by his opponents as shaking his sides with laughter at the confusion into which they were thrown by his inroads upon them. What course was pursued by the authorities in regard to the wig is not known, but the following candid apology is found on the town book, subscribed by the offender’s own hand.

“Whereas I John Rogers of New London did rashly and unadvisedly send a perewigg to the contribution of New London, which did reflectt dishonor upon that which my neighbours ye inhabitants of New London account the ways and ordinances of God and ministry of the word to the greate offence of them, I doe herebye declare that I am sorry for the sayde action and doe desire all those whom I have offended to accept this my publique acknowledgement as full satisfaction. 27th, 1: 91.        John Rogers.” (New London Town Rec, lib. 4, folio 46.)

The regret here expressed must have been but a temporary emotion, as he resumed immediately the same career of offense. In Nov. ,, 1692, besides his customary fines for working on the Sabbath, and for baptizing, he was amerced £4 for entertaining Banks and Case (Itinerant exhorters) for a month or more at his house. In 1693 and 1694, he and others of his family were particularly eager to win the notice of the law. Samuel Fox, presented for catching eels on Sunday, said that he made no difference of days; his wife Bathshua Fox went openly to the meeting-house to proclaim that she had been doing servile work on their Sabbath; John Rogers accompanied her, interrupting the minister, and proclaiming a similar offense. James Rogers and his wife assaulted the constable as he was rolling away a barrel of beef that he had distrained for the minister’s rate, threw scalding water upon him, and recaptured the beef. (Records of County Court.)

To various offenses of this nature, Rogers added the greater one of trundling a wheelbarrow into the porch of the meeting-house during the time of service; for which after being set in the stocks he was put into prison, and there kept for a considerable time. While thus held in durance, he hung out of the window a board with the following proclamation attached:

“I, John Rogers, a servant of Jesus Christ, doth here make an open declaration of war against the great red dragon, and against the beast to which he gives power; and against the false church that rides upon the beast; and against the false prophets who are established by the dragon and the beast; and also a proclamation of derision against the sword of the devil’s spirit, which in prisons, stocks, whips, fines and revilings, all which is to defend the doctrines of devils.” (Rogers himself in one of his pamphlets gives a copy of this writing. It is also in Benedict’s Hist., vol. 2, p. 423.)

On the next Sunday after this writing was hung out, Rogers being allowed the privilege of the prison limits on that day, rushed into the meeting-house during service, and with great noise and vehemence interrupted the minister, and denounced the worship. This led to the issuing of a warrant to remove him to Hartford gaol. The mittimus, dated March 28th, 1694, and signed by James Fitch, assistant, sets forth:

“Whereas John Rodgers of New London hath of late set himself in a furious way in direct opposition to the true worship and pure ordinances, and holy institutions of God, as also on the Lord’s Day passing out of prison in the time of public worship, running into the meeting-house in a railing and raging manner, as being guilty of blasphemy,” &c.

At Hartford he was tried and fined £5, and required to give a bond of £50 not to disturb the churches hereafter, and seated upon the gallows a quarter of an hour with a halter about his neck. Refusing as usual to pay the fine and give the security, he was remanded to prison and kept there from his first commitment three years and eight months.

During this imprisonment, according the account of his son, he was treated with great severity, and at one time taken out and cruelly scourged. (Answer of John Rogers, Jr., to Peter Pratt.)

While Rogers was in prison an attack upon the government and colony appeared, signed by Richard Steer, Samuel Beebe, Jr., Jonathan and James Rogers, accusing them of persecution of dissenters, narrow principles, self-interest, spirit of domineering ; and that to compel people to pay for a Presbyterian minister, is against the laws of England, is rapine, robbery and oppression.

A special court was held at New London, Jan. 24th, 1694-5, to consider this libelous paper. The subscribers were fined £5 each, whereupon they appealed to the Court of Assistants at Hartford, which confirming the first decision, they threatened an appeal to Cesar, that is to the throne of England. In all probability this was never prosecuted.

Rogers had not been long released from prison before he threw himself into the very jaws of the lion, as it were, by provoking a personal collison with Mr. Saltonstall, the minister of the town.

“At a session of the county court held at New London, Sept. 20, 1698. Members of the court, Capt. Daniel Wetherell Esq. and justices William Ely and Nathaniel Lynde. Mr. Gurdon Saltonstall minister of the gospel plf. pr contra John Rogers Senr, deft in an action of the case for defamation. Whereas you the said John Rogers did sometime in the month of June last past, raise a lying, false and scandalous report against him the said Mr. Gurdon Saltonstall and did publish the same in the hearing of diverse persons, that is to say — did in their hearing openly declare that the said Saltonstall having promised to dispute with you publicly on the holy scriptures did contrary to his said engagement shift or wave the said dispute which he had promised you, which said false report he the said Saltonstall complaineth of as to his great scandal and to his damage unto such value as shall to the said court be made to appear. In this action the jury finds for the plaintiff six hundred pounds, and costs of court, £1, 10.” (County Court Records.)

It would be wearisome and useless to enumerate all the instances of collision between Rogers and the authorities of the land, which even at this distance of time might be collected. It is stated by his followers that after his conversion he was near one-third of his lifetime confined in prisons. “I have,” he observes, in writing, in 1706, “been sentenced to pay hundreds of pounds, laid in iron chains, cruelly scourged, endured long imprisonments, set in the stocks many hours together,” &c. John, the younger, states that his father’s sufferings continued for more than forty-five years, and adds, “I suppose the like has not been known in the kingdom of England for some ages past.”

It was certainly a great error in the early planters of New England to endeavor to produce uniformity in doctrine by the strong arm of physical force. Was ever religious dissent subdued either by petty annoyance or actual cruelty? Is it possible ever to make a true convert by persecution? The principle of toleration was, however, then less clearly understood, and the offenses of the Rogerenes were multiplied and exaggerated both by prejudice and rumor. The crime of blasphemy was one that was often hurled against them. Doubtless a sober mind would not now give so harsh a name, to expressions which our ancestors deemed blasphemous.

In reviewing this controversy we cannot avoid acknowledging that there was great blame on both sides, and our sympathies pass alternately from one to the other. The course pursued by the Rogerenes was exceedingly vexatious. The provoking assurance with which they would enter a church, attack a minister, or challenge an argument, is said to have been quite intolerable. Suppose, at the present day, a man like Rogers of a bold spirit, ready tongue, and loud voice, thould rise up in a worshiping assembly, and tell the people they were entangled in the net of Antichrist, and sunk deep in the mire of idolatry; then turning to the preacher, call him a hireling shepherd, making merchandise of his flock, and declaring that the rites he administered, viz., baptism by sprinkling — the baptism of infants — and the celebration of the sacrament at any time but at night — were antichristian fopperies; accompanying all this with violent contortions, coarse expletives and foaming at the mouth: would it not require great forbearance on the part of the congregation not to call a constable, and forcibly remove the offender? Yet the Rogerenes frequently used more aggressive language than this, and went to greater lengths in their testimony against the idol Sabbath. Their own narratives and controversial writings prove this; nor do they offer any palliation of their course in this respect, but regard it as a duty they must perform, a cross they must bear.

Viewing the established order of the colony, only on the dark and frowning side, they considered it a righteous act to treat it with defiance and aggression. The demands of collectors, the brief of the constable, were ever molesting their habitations. It was now a cow, then a few sheep, the oxen at the plow, the standing corn, the stack of hay, the thrashed wheat, and anon, piece after piece of land, all taken from them to uphold a system which they denounced. Yet our sympathy with these sufferers is unavoidably lessened by the fact, that they courted persecution and gloried in it; often informing against themselves, and compelling the violated law to bring down its arm upon them. Says John Bolles:

“God gave me such it cheerful spirit in this warfare, that when I had not the knowledge that the grand-juryman saw me at work on the first day, I would inform against myself before witness, till they gave out, and let me plow and cart and do whatsoever I have occasion to on this day.”

What should a magistrate do? Often in despite of himself he was forced into severity. He had sworn to enforce the laws; he might shut his eyes and ears and refuse to know that such things were done, but here was a race who would not allow of such connivance: they obtruded their violations of the law upon his notice; and he felt obliged to convict and condemn. The authorities were not in the first place inclined to rigor: they were not a persecuting people. New London county more than any other part of Connecticut, perhaps from its vicinity to Rhode Island, has ever been a stage whereon varied opinions might exhibit themselves freely, and a difference of worship was early tolerated. Governor Saltonstall was perhaps more uniformly rigorous than any other magistrate in repressing the Rogerene disturbances. Nevertheless, while sitting as chief judge of the superior court, he used his utmost endeavors, by argument and conciliation, to persuade them to refrain from molesting the worship of their neighbors.

“He gave his word [says John Bolles] that to persuade us to forbear, if we would be quiet, and worship God in our own way according to our consciences, he would punish any of their people that should disturb us in our worship.”

Here was an opportunity for a compact which might have led to a lasting peace. But the principles of the Rogerenes would not allow of compromise.

It is somewhat singular that in the midst of so much obloquy, John Rogers should have continued to take part in public affairs. He was never disfranchised; when out of prison he was always ready with his vote; was a warm partisan and frequently chosen to some inferior town office, such as sealer of leather, surveyor of highways, &c. Crimes, such as the code of the present day would define them, were seldom or never proved against the Rogerenes, but it must be allowed that coarseness, vulgarity, and impertinent obtrusiveness, come near to crimes, in the estimation of pure minds.

In the year 1700 Rogers having lived single, from the desertion of his wife twenty-five years, married himself to Mary Ransford. She is said to have been a maid-servant whom he had bought; probably one of that class of persons called Redemptioners. The spirit and temper of his new wife may be inferred from the fact that she had already been arraigned before the court, for throwing scalding water out of the window upon the head of the constable who came to collect the minister’s rate. As Rogers would not be married by any minister or magistrate of Connecticut, he was in a dilemma how to have the rite solemnized. His mode of proceeding is thus described by his son:

“They agreed to go into the County Court, and there declare their marriage; and accordingly they did so; he leading his bride by the hand into court, where the judges were sitting, and a multitude of spectators present; and then desired the whole assembly to take notice, that he took that woman to be his wife; his bride also assenting to what he said. Whereupon the judge (Wetherell) offered to marry them in their form, which he refused, telling them that he had once been married by their authority and by their authority they had taken away his wife again, and rendered him no reason why they did it. Upon which account he looked upon their form of marriage to be of no value, and therefore he would be married by their form no more. And from the court he went to the governor’s house, (Fitz-John Winthrop’s) with his bride and declared their marriage to the governor, who seemed to like it well enough, and wished them much joy, which is the usual compliment.”

This ceremony thus publicly performed, John Rogers, Jr., supposes “every unprejudiced person will judge as authentic as any marriage that was ever made in Connecticut colony.” The authorities did not look upon it in this light. Rogers herein set at defiance the common law, which in matters of civil concernment, his own principles bound him to obey.

A story has been currently reported that this self-married couple presented themselves also before Mr. Saltonstall, the minister, and that he wittily contrived to make the marriage legal, against their will. Assuming an air of doubt and surprise, he says. Do you really, John, take this your servant-maid, bought with your money, for your wife? Do you, Mary, take this man so much older than yourself for your husband f and receiving from both an affirmative answer, he exclaimed: Then I pronounce you, according to the laws of this colony, man and wife. Upon this Rogers, after a pause, shook his head, and observed. Ah, Gurdon! thou art a cunning creature.

This anecdote, or something like it, may be true of some other Rogerene marriage, but not of this, for then no doubt would have arisen respecting the validity of the union.

The connection was an unhappy one; violent family quarrels ensued, between the reputed wife, and John Rogers the younger and his family, in the course of which the law was several times invoked to preserve peace, and the elder Rogers himself was forced to apply to the court for assistance in quelling these domestic broils.

The complaint of John Rogers against his son, and “the woman which the court calls Mary Ransford, which I have taken for my wife, seeing my lawful wife is kept from me by this government,” is extant in his own handwriting, dated 27th of 4th month, 1700.

In 1703, on the presentment of the grand jury, the county court summoned Mary Ransford, the reputed wife of John Rogers, before them, declared her marriage invalid, sentenced her to pay a fine of 40s. or receive ten stripes, and prohibited her return to Rogers under still heavier penalties. Upon this she came round to the side of the court, acknowledged her marriage illegal, cast off the protection and authority of Rogers, and refused to regard him as her husband.

Soon after this she escaped from confinement and fled to Block Island, leaving her two children with their father. Rogers appears to have renounced her as heartily and as publicly as she did him; so that actually they both married and unmarried themselves. They had never afterward any connection with each other.

About this time Rogers made a rash and almost insane attempt to regain his divorced wife, then united to Matthew Beckwith. A writ was issued against him in January, 1702-3, on complaint of Beckwith, charging him with laying hands on her, declaring she was his wife, and threatening Beckwith that he would have her in spite of him — all which Rogers confessed to be true, but defended, on the plea that she was really his wife.

“In County Court, June, 1703. — Matthew Beckwith Senr appeared in court and swore his Majesty’s peace against John Rogers, for that he was in tear of his life from him.” (County Court Records.)

In 1710, Mary Ransford was married to Robert Jones, of Block Island; and in 1714, Rogers married the widow Sarah Coles, of Oyster Bay, L. I., the ceremony being performed within the jurisdiction of Rhode Island, by a magistrate of that colony. (Narrative of John Rogers, Jr.) With this connection there was never any interference.

The troubles of Rogers did not cease with old age. His sea was never smooth. His bold, aggressive spirit knew not how to keep the peace. In 1711, he was fined and imprisoned for misdemeanor in court, contempt of its authority, and vituperation of the judges. He himself states that his offense consisted in charging the court with injustice for trying a case of life and death without a jury. This was in the case of one John Jackson, for whom Rogers took up the battle-ax. Instead of retracting his words, he defends them and reiterates the charge. Refusing to give bonds for his good behavior until the next term of court, he was imprisoned in New London jail. This was in the winter season, and he thus describes his condition:

“My son was wont in cold nights to come to the grates of the window to see how I did, and contrived privately to help me to some tire, &c. Hut he coming in a very cold night called to me and perceiving that I was not in my right senses, was in a fright, and ran along the street crying, ‘The authority hath killed my father,’ and cried at the Sheriff’s, ‘You have killed my father.’ — upon which the town was raised and forthwith the prison doors were opened and fire brought in and hot stones wrapt in cloth laid at ray feet and about me, and the minister Adams sent me a bottle of spirits and his wife a cordial, whose kindness I must acknowledge.

“But when those of you in authority saw that I recovered, you had up my son and fined him for making a riot in the night, and took for the fine and charge three of the best cows I had.”

His confinement continued until the time was out for which the bond was demanded. He was then released, but the very next day he was arrested on the following warrant:

“By special order of his Majesty’s Superior Court, now holden in New London, you are hereby required in her Majesty’s name, to take John Rogers, Senior, of New London, who to the view of said Court, appears to be under an high degree of distraction, and him secure in her Majesty’s Gaol for the County aforesaid, in some dark room or apartment thereof, that proper means may be used for his cure, and till he be recovered from his madness and you receive order for his release. Signed by order of said Court, March 26, 1712.    “Jonathan Law, Clerk.    “Test, John Prentis, Sherriff.”

This order was immediately executed. Rogers was removed to an inner prison and all light excluded. But the town was soon in an uproar; the populace interfered and tore away the plank that had been nailed over the window. Some English officers then in town also made application to the authorities to mitigate his treatment, and he was carried to the sheriff’s house and there kept. Two days afterward, he received, he said, a private warning that it was determined to convey him to Hartford, shave his head, and deliver him over to a French doctor to be medically treated for insanity. Whereupon by the aid of his son and the neighbors, he escaped in the night, and was rowed in a boat over to Long Island. Thither he was followed by the constable, and pursued by the “hue and cry,” from town to town, as he traveled with all possible secrecy and dispatch to Now York, where at length arriving safely, he hastened to the fort, and threw himself upon the protection of Governor Hunter, by whom he was kindly received and sheltered. Here he remained three months, and then returned home, where probably he would not have been molested, if he had remained quiet. But no sooner was he recruitod, than he returned to the very position he had taken with so much hazard before his imprisonment, resuming the prosecution of the judges of the inferior court before the general Court, for judging upon life and death without a jury in the aforesaid case of John Jackson. He was nonsuited, had all the charges to pay, and another heavy fine.

The next outbreak, and the last during the life of the elder Rogers, is thus related by the son:

“John Rogers and divers of his Society living as good a right to New London meeting-house as any of the inhabitants of the town, it being built by a public rate, every one paying a proportion according to their estate, (The building of the meeting-house cost me three of the best fat cattle I had that year, and as many shoes as was sold for thirty shillings in silver money.” — John Rogers, Sen.) did propose to hold his meetings there at noon time, between the Presbyterian meetings, so as not to disturb them in either of their meetings. And accordingly, we came to the meeting house and finding their meeting was not finished, we stood without the door till they had ended and were come out; and then John Rogers told the people that our coming was to hold our meeting, between their meetings, and that we had no design to make any disturbance, but would break up our meeting as soon as they wore ready for their afternoon meeting. Whereupon several of the neighbors manifested their freedom in the matter; yet the Constable came in the time of our meeting with an order to break it up, and with his attendants violently laid hands on several of us, hauling men and women out of the meeting, like an Saul did in his unconverted state, and for no other crime than what I have here truly related.

“John Rogers was had to Court and charged with a riot, &c. If myself had been the Judge, as I was not, I should have thought the constable to have been guilty of the riot, and not John Rogers. However, he was fined 10a., for which the officer first took ten sheep, and then complained they were not sufficient to answer the fine and charges, whereupon he came a second time and took a milk-cow out of the pasture, and so we heard no more about it, by which I suppose the cow and ten sheep satisfied the fine and charges. This was the last fine that was laid on him, for he soon after died.”

Joseph Backus, Esq., of Norwich, writing in the year 1726, gives this account of the death of the Rogerene leader:

“John Rogers pretended that he was proof against all infection of body as well as of mind, which the wicked only (he said) were susceptible of, and to put the matter upon trial, daringly ventured into Boston in the time of the Small Pox; but received the infection and dyed of it, with several of his family taking it from him.”

In answer to this statement, John Rogers the second observes:

“It is well known that it had been his practice for more than forty years past, to visit all sick persons as often us he had opportunity, and particularly those who had the Small Pox; when in the height of their distemper he has sat on their bed-side several hours at a time, discoursing of the things of God; so that his going to Boston the last time, was no other than his constant practice had been ever since he made a profession of religion.

“Now let every unprejudiced reader take notice how little cause J. Backus has to reflect John Rogers’s manner of death upon him who lived to the age of seventy-three years, and then died, in his own house, and on his own bed, having his reason continued to the last and manifesting his peace with God, and perfect assurance of a better life.”

“Oct. 17, 1721 died John Rogers Sen.

“Nov. 6,   ”    ” John Rogers 3d, aged 21 years and 6 days.

“Nov. 13,  “   “Bathsheba, wife of John Rogers 2d.

“All of small pox.”  (Town Record of New London.)

Rogers was buried directly upon the bank of the Thames, within the bounds of his Mamacock farm. Here he had set aside a place of family sepulture, which his son John, in 1751, secured to his descendants by deed for a burial place. It is still occasionally used for that purpose, and it is supposed that in all, sixty or eighty interments have here been made: but the wearing away of the bank is gradually intruding upon them. As the Rogerenes do not approve of monuments to the memory of the dead, only two or three inscribed stones mark the spot.

Rogers was a prolific writer. In the introduction to his “Midnight Cry,” he observes:  “This is the sixth book printed for me in single volumes.” He argued upon theological subjects with considerable skill and perspicuity. The inventory of his estate was £410. Among the articles enumerated are:

Several chests and packages of his own books.

Seven Bibles: Powel’s and Clarke’s Concordances.


Some notes and comments on the above:

Of James Rogers Senior, it says “His landed possessions were very extensive, consisting of several hundred acres on the Great Neck, the fine tract of land at Mohegan called the Pamechaug farm, several house lots in town, and twenty-four hundred acres east of the river, which he held in partnership with Col. Pyncheon, of Springfield.”  This got me wondering where Pamechaug farm could be on today’s map of the greater New London area.  I did a little digging and found this reference:

The Bostonian, An illustrated monthly magazine of local interest, Vol. 1, October-March 1894-5, Page 380: The Mohegans.  “The first grant of land within the Mohegan reservation was made by Uncas in 1658 to Richard Haughton and James Rogers, and consisted of valuable farms on the river and places called Massapeag and Pamechaug. The former place was situated north and west of the cove now called Haughton’s Cove …”

So Pamechaug farm was north and west of Haughton’s Cove.   So where’s Haughton’s Cove?  Haughton’s Cove is in Uncasville, CT, just north and west of Comstock Cemetery, a cemetery I have visited to take pictures of the graves of many Rogers family members.

The above also says “Mamacock, and the neighboring highland over which they spread, has ever since been known as Quaker Hill.” I wasn’t aware the Mamcock Farm, John Rogers (founder of the Rogerenes) farm of Mamcock had extended as far north as Quaker Hill. I do know that it extended at least as far south as the grounds of Conn College as that’s where the Rogers cemetery is. It would seem that at some point, the Rogers’ family owned the land all the way from Conn College up to Comstock Cemetery in Uncasville.

The point, while reading the above, that I started to laugh … “James Rogers and his wife assaulted the constable as he was rolling away a barrel of beef that he had distrained for the minister’s rate, threw scalding water upon him, and recaptured the beef.” (hence the title of my post today)

The above says John Rogers was cruelly scourged. Curious as the difference between a whipping and a scourging, I googled it. Wikipedia says the following: “A scourge is a whip or lash, especially a multi-thong type, used to inflict severe corporal punishment or self-mortification on the back. Usually made of leather.” Makes you wonder what poor John’s back must have looked like. He’d been scourged and whipped who knows how many times over the years.

I was curious about the story where John Rogers first breaks from the church in the baptism in Winthrop’s Cove.  Above, after the story, it says “(A more particular account of this affair may be found in Backus’ Church History’ and in Benedict’s History of the Baptists, vol. 2, p. 422.)”  So I googled Benedict’s History of the Baptists and found this:

A general history of the Baptist denomination in America, and other parts of the world by Benedict, page 422: 

In September, 1676, the three Rogerses and Japheth, the Indian, went in a boat and brought Messrs. Hiscox and Hubbard to New London again, when the father and mother of one of the sisters of the Rogerses were all baptized by Mr. Hiscox, and were also added to the church with which they had united. These frequent visits and administrations of the Baptists, awakened the jealousies and resentment of the people of the town, and the power of the magistrate was soon exerted in rigorous measures, against this new and obnoxious sect. These few persons, having adopted the Seventh Day of the week for their Sabbith continued to pursue their worldly business on the Firsts a practice very common with people of this belief; for which they soon began to be harassed, imprisoned and beaten. But opposition seemed only to inflame their zeal, and hurried them on to an extravagant and almost unexampled extreme. Hitherto these persons, who afterwards broke over all bounds of order and decency, were not known as a distinct set, but had a regular standing in the Seventh-day Baptist church at Newport. John Rogers, who afterwards became the fantastick leader of this deluded community, on the following occasion, began the wild and heedless career, by which he exposed himself so much to the censure of his friends and the persecuting violence of his enemies. In the year 1677, Messrs. Hiscox and his companion Hubbard visited New London a third time, and proposed to baptize the wife of Joseph Rogers, another brother of the Rogers family. Their meeting was held. It is related by Morgan Edwards that she was afterwards married to a lawyer, b/lbv; liimie of f^ratt (Not having the original book to look at I have no idea what those words were supposed to be) two miles from the town, where it was proposed that baptism should be administered; but John was for no retirement; lie must needs have the company go up to the town, and have the administration in sight and hearing of their enemies. John was finally listened to, and led on the procession. This provoking measure turned out as might have been expected in those days of intolerance and persecution; for while Mr. Hiscox was preaching, he was seized by the constable and immediately carried before the magistrate, where he was detained a short time, and then released. They new repaired to another place, and began to prepare for the administration; when, to the astonishment of the company, John stepped forward and prayed, and then led the woman down into the water, and baptized her. From this time this singular man took it upon him to baptize, and also to administer in other things in a ministerial capacity. His relatives, excepting his brother Jonathan, imbibed his spirit and followed his dictates. The church at Newport attempted to reform and regulate them; but their exertions proved ineffectual, and their connection was soon dissolved.

I find it interesting that the most interesting part in the above was left out of Caulkin’s the entire chapter on Rogerenes, and that is: “This sect took its rise at New London, in Connecticut, about the year 1674; for in that year one John Rogers and James his brother, and an Indian by the name of Japheth, were baptized by a Mr. Crandal.”  An Indian? I love it! Say what you want about how crazy John was, he saw all men as equal under God. I wonder why in all her history of the man, Caulkins left that out?

I do believe that John wanted a return to the church as it is explained in the New Testament, but I do find one item a little odd and would love to have the opportunity to sit down with old John for a little chat about he thoughts on medicine.  The above states “They use no means for the recovery of health, except care, kindness and attention, considering all resort to drugs, medicines and physicians, as sinful.”  Didn’t anyone tell him that the apostle Luke was a doctor?

I’m a little confused by reading this: “A further account of the Seventh-day community on the Neck will be given in the sequel of our history.”  Does anyone have any idea where to find the sequel to our history? I can’t seem to figure out where it would be in the book.

I wish I could get my hands on a copy of the mentioned “The Prey taken from the Strong, or an Historical Account of the Recovery of one from the dangerous errors of Quakerism.” I couldn’t find a digital copy or transcription online.

One place I’d like to locate is the home owned by C.A. Lewis, Esq in the year 1895, the year the book was published, as it was the site of James Roger’ first home in New London. “Mr. Winthrop had encouraged his settlement in the place, and had accommodated him with a portion of his own house lot, next to the mill, on which Rogers built a dwelling-house of stone. (This spot was afterward re-purchased by the Winthrop family, and was the site of the house built by John Still Winthrop, and now owned by C A. Lewis, Esq.)   Anyone have any idea where that might be?



18 Oct 2017: The Wheel on the Mill goes Round and Round … annoying the groundhog October 18, 2017

You’ll have to pardon my first attempts at video. I’m more of a photographer than a videographer.  Anyway, although the Old Town Mill  in New London is closed, I was able to get the city to open it up for me.  I’d never been inside, but wasn’t expecting much, but when Judy from City Hall met me, I got the grand tour!  She even turned on the wheel for me! Pretty awesome! The Old Town mill was originally operated by my Rogers family ancestor, John Rogers.

The inside is super cool! It has a two grind stones for grinding corn.  I visited two other grist mills on my trip but they were only single grinding operations.

Me in front of the Old Town Mill in New London.

As soon as you come in the front door, off the left is a platform.  Up top are the two grinding stones.  Down below are the gears and the big thing I can only describe as long and barrel-shaped that is the lever the wheel turns on the inside of the building.  (see video of that below)

Just inside the front door of the Old Town Mill

Grindstone #1 is in its housing.

Grindstone #2, not in housing

Judy showing me where they stored the corn that was to be ground in the mill.

Gears below the grind stones. Not operational yet. They’re waiting on a grant to raise the money to fix it next.

Most of the original mill burned down when Benedict Arnold burned New London, but some pieces of the structure they believe are original. If you look at the beam that runs along the ceiling, you can see how originally, it was post and beam construction, but when it was rebuilt, they didn’t use the notches, but laid new beams on top of the beams.

The exterior of the building and the flume have already been rebuilt by grant money.

The Flume

And now for the video.  First is of the wheel where it enters the building below the grind stones.

The mill … on.

Side view of the wheel.

The wheel and my little furry friend. I think he was annoyed we turned it on.

Want to see the mill operating for yourself? Check it out this Saturday. Sure with I was still in town to go.  Looks like a lot of fun.  If you go, let me know how it was.



3 Oct 2017: On my Genealogy Vacation … a mural to remember October 3, 2017

I arrived in the Mystic, CT area last night!  Long drive from Orlando! Today I went to New London to visit City Hall in search of Land Grant records for Thomas Wells, the oldest of the known Wells in my family.  According to The History of New London (Page 60) He had a land grant dated Feb 16, 1649/50.

Although the N.L. Historical Society pointed to the City Hall when I asked them for info on land grants, City Hall pointed me to the State Library in Hartford as they sent all the records there.  So, no joy at City Hall … that is until I walked back into the entry hall and spotted this wonderful mural on the wall.

Mural in City Hall

According to the mural, it’s a representation of the city and the plots of land and owners as they were before Benedict Arnold burned the city in 1781.

You can even see the Town Mill that was previously operated by John Rogers.  This is the town mill that still stands today under the I-95 overpass.

The Old Town Mill in New London

Here are some closeups I took of portions of the map:

Lower Mamacock

First Church and Burial Ground

North of Winthrop’s Cove

New London City Hall

Cool map! Hope you enjoy!



6 Dec 2015: Colonial Park … A Southern Cemetery with Family Connections December 6, 2015

Last weekend I went up to Savannah, Georgia for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course Savannah is known for many things, among them for its great cemeteries.  Partially publicized by books such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I visited two of Savannah’s historic cemeteries.   One of the things I love about visiting cemeteries in different parts of the country is to see how many different approaches one can take to bury someone.  In this, Savannah did not disappoint.

One of the cemeteries I visited was the old Colonial Cemetery, called Colonial Park, which is located just on the edge of the historic section of town where the famous squares are located.



P1050317One of the things I loved about this cemetery is that it’s a park.  People just strolled in off the street and walked around.  There was none of the stiff formality of a place of the dead, but a warm coziness that the people of Savannah seem to have with those that have lived in their city before them.  I have to say, I really liked that a lot.

Now let’s get on to our family connection to Colonial Park.  I was wandering around taking pictures when I came across this:



20151129_151511Yes, I know, look how they set the headstones in the brick like that.  Talk about cool.  But it was the marker beside it that caught my eye.  “William Scarbrough, Promoter of the First Transatlantic Steamship.”  I’m not history genius but I remember our family history pretty well and sure as can be, when I got back to my hotel and looked it up, my fourth cousin four times removed, Stevens Rogers, was on the very ship they’re talking about on this plaque, the Savannah.  How on earth did I remember that?  Because he has one of my favorite headstones and it happens to have a carving of that very same ship, the Savannah, on it.  Here’s a photo of it in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, CT:

Rogers - Stevens Rogers Captain 1Did William Scarbrough of Savannah, GA know my cousin Stevens Rogers? Odds are pretty good they did.  So that’s our family connection to Colonial Park.

Now I’ll share some pictures I took of the interesting ways they are preserving old stones here:


Wooden Frame


Metal Braces


Cement Inlay

There must be a lot of stones that have been dislodged from their grave sites, because the brick back wall of the cemetery is something of an art project, a collage of homeless stones.  It’s beautiful and sad at the same time.  Here’s some photos so you can see what I’m talking about:


For Blog 1

For Blog 2

For Blog 3

I’ll also share some pictures of some odd and beautiful stones I found.  The first one has to be about the largest stone I’ve come across.  I put my cell phone on top of it to give you an idea of the scale of it.


This next one has lovely imagery carved in it.  I love the detail on the woman’s dress:


This carver was apparently getting paid by the word!!!!


This carver apparently didn’t believe in under doing it!  It’s got so many design elements in it, it should be a little garish, but I like it.


I have the feeling that in life no one ever accused Archibald Bulloch of being understated.  Check out his grave:


Here’s some other neat carvings I found:

For Blog 5

For Blog 6

With this one, I had to wonder which came first, the headstone or the brick monument.  It almost looked like the cut up the white headstone to the oval shape you see now to set it in the brick.

For Blog 4

Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour through Colonial Park and are inspired to stop in a visit for yourself should you ever find yourself in the lovely city of Savannah.