John Rogers Vicar Of St Sepulchre's And Reader Of St Paul's London
John Rogers was educated at Cambridge, and was afterward many years
chaplain to the merchants adventurers at Antwerp in Brabant. Here he met
with the celebrated martyr William Tindal, and Miles Coverdale, both
voluntary exiles from their country for their aversion to popish
superstition and idolatry. They were the instruments of his conversion;
and he united with them in that translation of the Bible into English,
led "The Translation of Thomas Matthew." From the scriptures he
knew that unlawful vows may be lawfully broken; hence he married, and
removed to Wittenberg in Saxony, for the improvement of learning; and he
there learned the Dutch language, and received the charge of a
congregation, which he faithfully executed for many years. On king
Edward's accession, he left Saxony, to promote the work of reformation
in England; and, after some time, Nicholas Ridley, then bishop of
London, gave him a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral, and the dean and
chapter appointed him reader of the divinity lesson there. Here he
continued until queen Mary's succession to the throne, when the gospel
and true religion were banished, and the Antichrist of Rome, with his
superstition and idolatry, introduced.
The circumstance of Mr. Rogers having preached at Paul's cross, after
queen Mary arrived at the Tower, has been already stated. He confirmed
in his sermon the true doctrine taught in King Edward's time, and
exhorted the people to beware of the pestilence of popery, idolatry, and
superstition. For this he was called to account, but so ably defended
himself, that, for that time, he was dismissed. The proclamation of the
queen, however, to prohibit true preaching, gave his enemies a new
handle against him. Hence he was again summoned before the council, and
commanded to keep his house. He did so, though he might have escaped;
and though he perceived the state of the true religion to be desperate.
"He knew he could not want a living in Germany; and he could not forget
a wife and ten children, and to seek means to succour them." But all
these things were insufficient to induce him to depart and, when once
called to answer in Christ's cause, he stoutly defended it, and hazarded
his life for that purpose.
After long imprisonment in his own house, the restless Bonner, bishop of
London, caused him to be committed to Newgate, there to be lodged among
thieves and murderers.
After Mr. Rogers had been long and straitly imprisoned, and lodged in
Newgate among thieves, often examined, and very uncharitably entreated,
and at length unjustly and most cruelly condemned by Stephen Gardiner,
bishop of Winchester: the 4th of February, in the year of our Lord 1555,
being Monday in the morning, he was suddenly warned by the keeper of
Newgates's wife, to prepare himself for the fire; who, being then sound
asleep, could scarce be awaked. At length being raised and awaked, and
bid to make haste, Then said he, if it be so, I need not tie my points.
And so was had down, first to bishop Bonner to be degraded: which being
done, he craved of Bonner but one petition; and Bonner asking what that
should be? Mr. Rogers replied, that he might speak a few words with his
wife before his burning. But that could not be obtained of him.
When the time came, that he should be brought out of Newgate to
Smithfield, the place of his execution, Mr. Woodroofe, one of the
sheriffs, first came to Mr. Rogers, and asked him, if he would revoke
his abominable doctrine, and the evil opinion of the sacrament of the
altar. Mr. Rogers answered that which I have preached I will seal with
my blood. Then Mr. Woodroofe said, Thou art an heretic. That shall be
known, quoth Mr. Rogers, at the day of judgment.--"Well, said Mr.
Woodroofe, I will never pray for thee. But I will pray for you, said Mr.
Rogers; and so was brought the same day, the 4th of February, by the
sheriffs, towards Smithfield, saying the psalm Miserere by the way, all
the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy with great praises and
thanks to God for the same. And here, in the presence of Mr. Rochester,
comptroller of the queen's household, sir Richard Southwell, both the
sheriffs, and a great number of people he was burnt to ashes, washing
his hands in the flame as he was burning. A little before his burning,
his pardon was brought if he would have recanted; but he utterly refused
it. He was the first martyr of all the blessed company that suffered in
Queen Mary's time that gave the first adventure upon the fire. His wife
and children, being eleven in number, ten able to go, and one sucking at
her breast, met him by the way, as he went towards Smithfield: this
sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him but
that he constantly and cheerfully took his death with wonderful
patience, in the defence and quarrel of the gospel of Christ."