Rogers, John (1740–1814), presbyterian minister and Volunteer, was youngest son of James Rogers, elder of Newbliss congregation, Co. Monaghan. He was said to be a descendant of the Rev. John Rogers, the first protestant martyr to be burned at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary (4 February 1555). He graduated MA from Glasgow University 1764 before proceeding to further studies at the Associate (Burgher) theological hall. He was licensed by the Down Burgher presbytery and ordained as minister at New Ballybay (later Cahans) Seceding Presbyterian church, Monaghan presbytery, 3 June 1767, to replace the Rev. Thomas Clark (qv) who had emigrated to New York along with 300 of his congregation (28 July 1764). Rogers was to remain as minister of Cahans (residing at Lisnavein, Tullycorbet, with his wife Sarah née Harris, whom he married 14 October 1767) for 47 years.
He carried the Irish seceders' petition to Scotland in May 1779, requesting that they should form their own synod. After its formation he attended the first meeting (20 October 1779) and was elected clerk, a post he held until his death. He never failed to attend the annual meeting, and signed the memorial of the ministers and elders of the associate synod of Ireland to the lord lieutenant, the duke of Portland (qv), thanking the government for the repeal of the test act in 1782. He was moderator of the Irish Seceding presbytery (1780, 1793) and of the Burgher Secession synod (1801/2).
In 1781 he wrote An historical dialogue between a minister of the established church, a popish priest, a presbyterian minister and a mountain minister (1781), discussing the convictions of the Reformed Presbyterians concerning the civil magistrate. He had been an early beneficiary of the seceders' decision to accept the regium donum in 1783, and in 1788 took part in an open air discussion at Cahans with James McGarragh, a Reformed Presbyterian licentiate, concerning whether the authority of a non-covenanting king should be acknowledged. Rogers spoke using a huge pile of books as an aid, while McGarragh ostentatiously referred only to a Bible, but the exercise proved futile as both sides claimed victory from the encounter.
Rogers was active in the Volunteer movement of the 1770s and 1780s as a chaplain, when his congregation formed the Lisnavein Independent Rangers, yet he rejected Volunteer liberality on the Roman catholic issue and continued to preach against catholicism. As a result his meeting house was burnt down in April 1779 and, fearing for his safety, members of his congregation kept nightly guard over his home. The church was rebuilt by public subscription the following year. The experience heightened Rogers's resolve. In A sermon preached at Lisnavein . . . on Saturday June 10 1780 (Edinburgh, 1780), he spoke of the burning of the meeting house and of the judge's verdict against compensation, and told his congregation not to consent to the repeal of the penal laws. On 15 February 1782 he was one of only two delegates at the Volunteer convention at Dungannon who opposed the resolution expressing approval that the penal legislation against Roman catholics had been relaxed.
In 1796 he was appointed professor of divinity for the Irish Burgher Secession synod, with a salary of £20 a year. He held this post for 18 years until his death, lecturing in Cahans meeting house. Students could therefore be educated in Ireland rather than Scotland, a point he felt strongly about, as in A dialogue between students at the college (Monaghan, 1787) he put forward his arguments for an Irish theological education and followed this up in a speech at synod in 1808 (published 1809) in which he asserted that the inability of the Irish Burgher and Anti-Burgher Secession synods to form a union was due to the fact that the Anti-Burghers were still dependent on Scotland.
He died 24 August 1814 during family worship. The divinity hall at Cahans was transferred to the Belfast Academical Institution. A poetic tribute to his memory was printed under the name of J. Robinson, printer; no date is given. It commenced with the text ‘The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance’ (Psalm 112: 6). A complete list of his works is in the BL catalogue, cclxxix, 189. Rogers left a legacy in the form of a presbyterian dynasty. His fourth son, John (1775–1854), became a minister of Glascar, one of the largest and most influential Seceding Presbyterian congregations in Ireland, and was moderator of the Burgher synod 1809/10 and Secession synod 1818/19 and acting moderator of the seceders in the 1840 union of synods. His son James (c.1814–c.1897), John Rogers's grandson, was his assistant and successor from 1834 and his sons, Rogers's great-grandsons, were ministers at Ballywalter and Castlereagh, both in Co. Down. A great-great-grandson, James Rogers (d. 1952), was a missionary to India (1915–52); a great-great-granddaughter, Jeanette Rogers, was leader of the Women's Association for Foreign Missions for thirty-three years and went to Manchuria to help with mission work in 1937.