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."