Who are the Rogerenes?

John Rogers’ appeal, 1675. Connecticut State Library, State Archives, RG 000, Samuel Wyllys papers

While attending the FGS conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in August, Lynn Martin of Paw Paw, Michigan visited the NEHGS booth in the vendor hall and introduced me to her early immigrants – specifically her Rogers family. John Rogers, Sr. founded his own religion – the Rogerenes, in 1674 – in New London, Connecticut. Today, the only tangible remains of this religion in Connecticut are the neighborhoods of Quaker Hill in Waterford and Quakertown in Ledyard. While sometimes referred to as the Rogerene Quakers, they actually never had any association with the Society of Friends. Instead, their roots come from the Seventh Day Adventists.

The beliefs of the faith share commonalities with many other (at that time) dissenting groups.  For instance, they believed in adult baptism like the Baptists. They shared healing by prayer with the Christian Scientists. They also believed in silence during worship like the Quakers. And unlike the Congregational churches who staunchly believed in Sundays being the most holy of days, they shared views on Saturday services with the Seventh Day Adventists. However, they also believed that, after attending church, the day was to be treated like any other day – and they often did their best to draw attention to this belief, antagonizing those who believed otherwise.

[They] also believed that, after attending church, the day was to be treated like any other day – and they often did their best to draw attention to this belief, antagonizing those who believed otherwise.

John Rogers, Sr. broke away from the Seventh Day Adventists, declaring himself a minister and gathering some followers; he would continue his uncompromising ways. Unlike many of the other non-Congregational Church denominations, the Rogerenes were not known for trying to get along or remain out of sight. They were often confrontational, announcing they were working on the Sabbath or flaunting that they were married according to Rogerene beliefs, which were not recognized by either the civil or church authorities. One person during these early years who was often the focus of their confrontations was Gurdon Saltonstall.

During the 1600s, the Rogerenes, or more specifically John Rogers Sr., could often be found before the local magistrate. At one point after Saltonstall became governor of Connecticut, he proclaimed John Rogers Sr. insane. The cell in which Rogers was remanded had the windows blocked out – a punishment for one found to be insane. In response the Rogerenes removed what was blocking the windows. Another time they removed doors from the jail in response to an incarceration. They taunted their Congregational neighbors in other ways, including destruction of the congregation’s church building.

As the centuries progressed, the Rogerenes continued, embracing a manner of pacifism. They would proclaim themselves anti-war and anti-military; they held Peace Conventions. They also were dedicated abolitionists and active in the Underground Railroad.

During the eighteenth century, a couple of groups left the New London area and moved on to New Jersey. One of them settled in Roxbury Township, near Lake Rogerine – which at their arrival in 1700 was known as Mountain Pond. The other group arrived about 1734 and settled on the eastern side of Schooley’s Mountain near what is today Hackettstown. According to Lynn Martin, some of the descendants still live on Schooley’s Mountain to this day; however, various articles indicate the religion is no longer active.

If you are interested in learning more about this group, here are some articles:

John Rogers’ place in history is also covered in John Warner Barber’s Connecticut Historical Collections, just reprinted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

In addition, Gutenberg.org has transcribed a 1904 publication: The Rogerenes: Some Hitherto Unpublished Annals Belonging to the Colonial History of Connecticut, written by John Rogers Bolles and Anna Bolles Williams.

About Rhonda McClure

Rhonda R. McClure, Senior Genealogist, is a nationally recognized professional genealogist and lecturer. Before joining American Ancestors/NEHGS in 2006, she ran her own genealogical business for 18 years. She was a contributing editor for Heritage Quest Magazine, Biography magazine and was a contributor to The History Channel Magazine and American History Magazine. In addition to numerous articles, she is the author of twelve books including the award-winning The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Genealogy, Finding your Famous and Infamous Ancestors and Digitizing Your Family History. She is the editor of the 6th edition of the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, available in our bookstore. When she isn’t researching and writing about family history, she spends her time writing about ice hockey, covering collegiate to NHL teams and a couple of international teams. Her work has allowed her the privilege of attending and covering the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

28 thoughts on “Who are the Rogerenes?

    1. I am the direct descendant of James Rogers, Sr, father of your ancestor, John Rogers Sr. John Rogers was born 1 Dec 1648 in Milford, New Haven Co CT. Death: 17 Oct 1721 New London, CT. His parents were: James “Increase” Rogers, Sr. 1614-1687 and Elizabeth Rowland, 1620-1709(7?) You can find information about our family in North American Families 1500-2000 (John Rogers pg 1009) and Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography 1600-1889 Vol V, p 308, among others. You can find a lot of information about our family on-line. General Benedict Arnold burned down New London Connecticut and our family documents were destroyed. So much of our family records were lost in the fires during the American Revolution which could have substantiated our family connections in England. Good luck on your research and welcome to the family.

  1. Do you mean Seventh Day Baptists? I believe the Seventh Day ADVENTISTS grew out of the Millerite movement much later.

    1. I agree, the Seventh Day Adventist denomination wasn’t formally established until 1863. Similarly, the Christian Science denomination wasn’t chartered until 1879.

    2. If in fact the group described here were the 7th Day *Baptists* and not the Adventists, then I now know more about the beliefs of one (of two) of my rather rebellious, many times grgrams whose name escapes me at the moment. Years ago I came across a brief notation that late in life (widowed?) she’d left the family religion (Quakers?), become a charter member of the 7th Day *Baptists* and allowed them to meet in her home. If I can find the note, I’ll post it here.

      1. Yes, the Rogerenes mixed beliefs of the Quakers with the Seventh-Day Sabbatarians beliefs of the Seventh-Day Baptists, who had come from London to Rhode Island in the 1600s. The first Seventh-Day Baptists in America were Stephen and Ann (Taylor) Mumford, who came to Rhode Island in 1664 from the Bell Lane, London, SDB congregation. The first Seventh-Day Baptist congregation in America was organised in 1671 in Newport, R.I. — they were known as the “Third Baptist Church” in their town. The Rogerenes learned Seventh-Day Sabbatarianism from the Rhode Island SDBs. It was also from the Seventh-Day Baptists that the Seventh-Day Adventists learned of that doctrine in the years after “the Great Disappointment” of 1844 (when the original Adventists, not yet Seventy-Day, had expected the end of the world).

    3. Yes it should be Seventh Day Baptists. That was my mistake. Thank you for pointing this out. I read Seventh Day Baptists and I typed Seventh Day Adventists.

  2. Interesting the various groups that some of my ancestors & collateral members of the family were part of that either are not as active now but do still exist in some places. Am always glad when records do show up for them as well, perhaps using different names now. .

  3. A must read for those interested in this family….For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial England by Allegra Di Bonaventura. Brilliantly researched and reader friendly.

    Another source in The Later History of the First Church of Christ, New London, CT by Rev. S. Leroy Blake, D.D. pgs 148-155. publ. 1900; NEHGS F 104 N7 B65 .

    1. Yes! On For Adam’s Sake. It’s a fascinating book. She started out meaning to write about Joshua Hempstead, whose diary is an extensive first-person account of early New London, but she found herself drawn to research Adam, Hempsted’s lifelong servant/slave instead. I was fortunate to meet the author and hear her speak at the school I was working at a couple of years ago.

      1. Awesome book. As a descendent of both Joshua Hempstead and the Rogers family, I learned a lot from the book. Excellently written and sourced.

    2. Thank you for that information!!! Will put it on my list to read! I have a proverbial knot of these Rogers on my tree -dad’s side.
      I have said four years this family would make a great documentary!

  4. Wow. Thank you for all the information. My maternal grandmother was a Rogers and DNA has proven the family link to Adam Rogers and a male Rogers, John or James.

  5. I am also interested in more information on this particular Rogers family especially since they’re from Connecticut. My family came with the Puritans and my father’s middle name was Rogers. For generations we only married other descendants of the Puritans and early English Protestant families. I’d love to know more because I’ve been looking for our particular Rogers family.

  6. The Seventh Day Adventist Church, according to their website, was founded on May 21, 1863 and Christian Science was founded in 1866, by Mary Baker Eddy, again from their website, so I don’t understand how the Rogerenes could have had roots in either of those religions. I am not trying to be difficult, I’m only trying to understand.

    1. The Rogerene sect mixed Quaker beliefs with doctrines of the Seventh-Day Baptists, a group that came from London to Rhode Island in the 1600s. The Seventh-Day Adventists arose out of the Adventist Movement of the 1800s — initially the members of the Adventist Movement were not Seventh-Day adherents, but in the years after “the Great Disappointment” of 1844 (when the Adventists expected the end of the world), many if not most Adventists adopted Seventh-Day Sabbatarians after learning of that belief from members of the Seventh-Day Baptist denomination. So, no, the Rogerenes weren’t an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists, but rather were something of an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Baptists.

      1. Actually very few of the original Millerite Adventists accepted the seventh day Sabbath. There growth into the major denomination growing out of the movement came much later.

  7. One of my favorite things doing genealogy was reading about the religious movements in the Mass Bay Colony and beyond.

    I had ancestors who were Puritans, Congregationalist, Quakers, Seventh Day Baptists and Rogerene’s. The last three suffered a lot because of their belief’s, often refusing to pay fines were jailed and their properties and animals seized.

    My Culver/Colver Ancestors became Rogerene’s and after John Rogers, they also became known as the Culverites, also leading families to Schooley’s Mountain. Looks like by 1800 the Rogerene religion had petered out and some of these families became Quakers.

    1. I was thrilled to see you reference Culver/Colver ancestors as Rogerene’s and Colverites. Can you direct me to sources which might list or further document Culver – Rogerene’s in the 1750 – 1800 era of New Jersey? Thank you, Craig Culver email: craigRculver@gmail.com

  8. Thank you so much for publishing this. I am a descendant of James Rogers and Elizabeth Rowland through their son, Samuel Rogers, and his wife, Mary Stanton Rogers. Does anyone know if Samuel Rogers was also part of the Rogerene movement?

    1. Hello, cousins. Rogers, Stanton and Rowland are in my tree, too. I will have to check out these publications.

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