Friends of the Family: The Rogers and Woodhouses

by clabarge

NPG D26836; John Rogers after Unknown artist

John Rogers, after Unknown artist, etching 17th to 18th century. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Used with permission.

Meet “Roaring John Rogers”, the grandfather of  Samuel Rogers, the man who married Sarah Wade on 13 Nov. 1661. Rev. John Rogers had a reputation as something of a firebrand preacher. He had been admitted to Emmanuel College at Cambridge on 4 Feb. 1588. In 1592 he became vicar of Honingham in Norfolk where he married a few years later and started a family that included three daughters and four sons, including the father of Samuel Rogers, the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers. John Rogers later became vicar of Haverhill in Suffolk, but was most famous as the preacher in Dedham, Essex, the seat of puritan nonconformity in the early 1600’s. Rogers had a unique way of preaching the Word and of delivering his sermons. His theatrics drew large crowds and his lack of conformance to the Church of England dictates drew the attention of bishops. The famous Rev. Thomas Hooker referred to Rogers as “The prince of all the preachers in England.” (Mather, Cotton: Magnalia Christi Americana, p. 334). He exerted some influence on the early puritans who eventually made their way to New England. Gov. John Winthrop apparently told his son: “Mr. Rogers hath set forth a little book of faith; buy it.” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, citing Winthrop, R.C. Life and Letters of J. Winthrop, p.208).

Nathaniel Rogers was the second son of the Rev. John Rogers. He graduated with a B.A. from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1617 and earned his M.A. by 1621. He married the daughter of a wealthy grocer whose brother, Robert Crane, became an investor in the Massachusetts Bay Company. Nathaniel’s “conversion” to nonconformity occurred after he had a conversation with the Rev. Thomas Hooker but this conversion also forced him to abandon his position as curate at Bocking, Essex and take up a post as rector at Assington, Suffolk where his sponsor was a friend of John Winthrop. However, as Bishop Laud’s crackdowns on nonconformity spread beyond the bounds of London, he left England in 1636 and arrived in Charleston on 17 Nov. 1636. On 20 Feb. 1638, he was ordained pastor of the church at Ipswich where he replaced Nathaniel Ward and joined the preacher John Norton. He remained as pastor of the Ipswich church for the rest of his life. (c.f. Winship, Michael P. “Rogers, Nathaniel”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online database, 2004-2013).

Nathaniel Rogers had one daughter and three sons. The first son, Rev. Dr. John Rogers (named after his grandfather), became the fifth President of Harvard College in 1682. The second son was named Nathaniel, and the third son was Samuel Rogers. He was born 16 Jan 1635 in Assington, Suffolk, England, married 1) Judith Appleton 12 Dec 1657 and 2) Sarah Wade 13 Nov 1661. He died 21 Dec 1693 in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Sarah Wade married Samuel Rogers on 13 Nov 1661. Samuel had attended Harvard College and was well-versed in the puritan doctrines and strictures. He eventually became the town clerk of Ipswich. His proposal to marry Sarah Wade as his second wife would have only been acceptable to his father if Sarah Wade (and her family) had the prerequisite understanding of the puritan philosophy and had demonstrated her adherence to the puritan principles in her daily life. It may not have been recorded, but it would not be an unreasonable assumption that the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers knew the Wade family well since he was the pastor of their church, and that he felt that the Wades were sufficiently “puritan” to have one of their daughters admitted to his family. Sarah and Samuel would only be married for 32 years and a little bit more than one month.In that time, they had 9 children:

  1. Sarah Rogers b. 14 Oct 1664
  2. John Rogers b. 1666
  3. John Rogers b. 29 Apr 1667
  4. Susana Rogers b. 17 Mar 1668
  5. Jonathan Rogers b. 29 Mar 1671
  6. Mary Rogers b 10 Sep 1672
  7. Margaret Rogers b. 24 Oct 1675
  8. Elisabeth Rogers b. 1 Oct 1678
  9. Abigail Rogers b. 5 Jul 1681

(The names and dates of these children are from Ipswich. Vital Records of Ipswich Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849. Vol. 1 Births, Salem: Essex Institute [Available on Ancestry.com and archive.org]. Thanks to John Cochoit for pointing out the errors in Doris Schultz’s account and poiting me to the more authoritative records).

Sarah Wade Rogers would have been in her early 50’s when her husband Samuel died. As well, she had some young teenagers in her care; Sarah, the youngest was twelve years old while Abigail was 13 and Elizabeth would have been 16. Enter Lt. Henry Woodhouse of Concord, Massachusetts who married Sarah Wade Rogers and took her and her young children back to Concord. There is not much about Henry Woodhouse (or Woodis as it was then spelled), and what there is seems to be more family tradition than facts and vital statistics. Three sources have been used to piece this narrative together, with a very guarded caveat that much of the story may be more fiction than fact. Henry Woodhouse is mentioned in a small pamphlet by Grindall Reynolds, The Story of a Concord Farm and Its Owners , February 1, 1883. A lecture delivered before the Concord Lyceum, pp. 29. Subsequently, a descendant of Joseph Lee, Henry’s son-in-law, a Dr. William Lee, physician, wrote a short review of the pamphlet in the New England Historic and Genealogical Society quarterly The Register on p. 109 of the January 1887 edition in which he imparted some rather fanciful descriptions of Henry’s adventures in New England, and finally some footnotes in an article in The Register, April 1912. p. 126 by Lawrence Brainerd “Some Descendants of Daniel King, Gentleman of Lynn, Mass.”

Reynolds claimed that Woodhouse came to New England around 1650 and by 1699 he owned 350 acres.  According to his short history of the Concord farm, Henry Woodhouse (Woodis) purchased the farm in March 1661 in Concord, Massachusetts for £240. This property eventually came to be known as Lee’s Hill, named after his son-in-law the physician Dr. Joseph Lee. Joseph Lee, the town physician, lived on what was called Lee’s Hill, and helped to spread the alarm in the opening skirmish of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. Several of the men who raised the alarm on that fateful day were physicians since they usually had the best horses to use for visiting the sick.  Five years after Henry’s house  purchase, that is in 1666, his house burned down and his only son, a few weeks old,  died in the fire. His military title came from his service during King Philip’s War where he was first the quartermaster and subsequently a lieutenant.

While Reynolds mentions in a footnote on p. 13 of his pamphlet that “tradition adds that he lost in the great London fire the preceding September two houses more”, it is William Lee who provides even more insight into Lt. Woodhouse’s fortunes and misfortunes. According to the Lee’s family tradition, Henry Woodhouse “was the younger son of a rich family in Bruton St., London who came to New England in 1633, then about nineteen years of age, and brought with him a good estate in specie.” Apparently, Henry owned two houses in London and several “good” houses in Derbyshire, the result of two estates given to him by a rich uncle.William Lee’s story goes on to relate that legend has it that Henry missed travelling on a boat to England which subsequently foundered with all passengers drowned, not just once, but three separate times, and, of course, on three separate boats! It seems that “the good man’s heart was warmed by the goodness of the mercy of God towards him and his family…” Lee corroborates Reynold’s claim that Henry lost his only son when his house in Concord caught fire, but adds a whole new set of details. “The fire was supposed to begin in the cellar. The snow was about five feet deep, wind north-west and extremely cold. Mr. Woodhouse with his wife and daughters, saved themselves by jumping from the chamber windows with only their linen on.” As their nearest neighbor was a mile away, the Woodhouses took shelter in a pig pen after driving the hogs out. Mrs. Woodhouse froze her feet “as to be a cripple whilst she lived.”

According to Lawrence Brainerd, Abigail Rogers, the second last of Samuel and Sarah’s children, married a Richard King in Concord on 18 April 1699. After his death in 1702, Abigail returned home to her mother Sarah’s house, also in Concord, where, on 1 November 1704, she married Lieut. Samuel Dudley. They were later part of the early settlers of Littleton, Massachusetts and had 11 children before Abigail’s death 9 August 1720. Sarah Wade Rogers Woodhouse died 19 January 1717 in Concord.

From the little that we know of Sarah Wade Rogers Woodhouse, she seems to have been a devout puritan and a dedicated mother with a large family. But if Sarah seems to be a bit of enigma, wait for the story of her next youngest sibling, Elizabeth, who married a few years later in 1665.

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