Rogers Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Rogers Surname Meaning

Rogers is a patronymic (son of) surname in England, deriving from the given name Roger (from hrod meaning “renown” and gari “spear”) that was popular among the Normans. In Wales it was found with the “g” silent, as in Prosser from ap Roger. 

Rogers Surname Resources on The Internet

Rogers and Rodgers Surname Ancestry

  • from SW England and from Ireland (Ulster)
  • to America, Canada and South Africa

England. Rogers has been very much a west country name.  The first instance was Henry Rogeres, recorded in the tax rolls for Worcestershire in 1327.

SW England. A Norman FitzRoger family had settled there in the 14th century and they became Rogers a century or so later. One branch was to be found from the 15th century at Bryanston in Dorset. Thomas Rogers, a Sergeant-in-Law, built Rogers Manor in Bradford in Wiltshire around 1450. The house remained in Rogers hands until 1623. Remnants of the structure can still be seen today, although the building was largely demolished in the 1930’s.

Roger de Norbury had held property and influence in Ludlow and southern Shropshire in the 14th century. His son assumed the surname Rogers and their home, called The Home, was with the Rev. Edward Rogers in the late 18th century.

The Rogers name also cropped up in Cornwall and Devon:

  • Rogers first appeared at Lanke in Cornwall in the early 1500’s. A Rogers family became prominent at Helston in the 1700’s (where they were MP’s for several generations). They acquired the Penrose estate nearby which remained with the family until its donation in 1974 to the National Trust.
  • another Cornish line traces from James and Margaret Rogers who were living at Rosemorder Farm in the village of Manaccan around the year 1700.
  • then there was a Rogers merchant family at Plymouth from the late 1600’s who prospered and became the baronets of Wisdome in Devon. They were descended from John Rogers, the first Protestant to be martyred in the bloody reign of Queen Mary.

Elsewhere.  The Rodgers spelling has been found in Yorkshire. The best known of these Rodgers was the Joseph Rodgers & Sons cutlery company in Sheffield, started by Maurice and Joseph Rodgers around the year 1730.  

Scotland.  The Rodgers surname in Scotland was to be found originally in Perthshire as Rodgie or Rodger and in SW Scotland as MacRory. Most Rodgers by the late 19th century were to be found in and around Glasgow.

Ireland. The Rogers and Rodgers names began to appear in Ireland in Cromwellian times. They were anglicizations of the Gaelic Mac Ruaidhrí or McRory, an Ulster name in Derry and Tyrone meaning “red king.” The McRorys of Derry were erenaghs of Ballymascreen, those of Tyrone chiefs of Tellach Ainbhith and Muinntear Birn. There were also Scottish McRorys/Rodgers Gallowglass mercenaries that had settled in Tyrone.

Today Rogers in Ireland divide approximately one third Rogers, one third Rodgers, and one third McRory. Rogers is most found in Dublin, Rodgers and McRory in Northern Ireland.

America.  Thomas Rogers who came to Plymouth Rock and Giles Rogers who came to Virginia were probably related.

New England. Thomas Rogers was a passenger on the Mayflower who died at Plymouth during the first winter. But his line in America continued through his two sons Joseph and John. It is thought that Henry H. Rogers of Standard Oil fame was a descendant.

Other early Rogers were:

  • the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers who came in 1636 and was the pastor at Ipswich, Massachusetts until his death in 1655. He has a large number of descendants in America.
  • John Rogers, who arrived in 1635 and settled in Connecticut and was the founder of a radical religious sect known as the Rogerenes.
  • interestingly, a recorded line descended from Adam Rogers, a mulatto slave in New London freed by the family in the early 1700’s. Roswell Rogers of this line headed west to Ohio in 1812 and the family was later to be found in Illinois and Iowa.

James and Mary Rogers came to Massachusetts from Ireland in 1729. Their son Robert developed the Rogers’ Rangers in New Hampshire during the French and Indian wars.  He initially gained fame and celebrity from his exploits but later, an alcoholic, died in obscurity in England.

Virginia.  Giles Rogers – probably the nephew of Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower – brought his wife and children to Virginia in 1680 on his own ship, the Bay.  

“Giles brought everything that he thought they would need in the new land, including farm animals, household furnishings, tools, and servants.”  

Giles’s descendants were close to the Clark family in King and Queen county, Virginia.  Ann Rogers married John Clark in 1750 and their son William Clark was the famed explorer of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804.

Charles Rogers was said to have been a stowaway from Ulster when he landed on the Virginia coastline around 1796. He apparently was a wandering peddler before he met his wife Hannah. They settled to farm in the Shenandoah valley. In 1831 they moved to Clay county, West Virginia when it was still basically wilderness. Clay county is surrounded by high mountains and a descendant Allen Rogers elected to make his home in a remote mountain-top farm.

Robert Rogers, Scots Irish, had come to Virginia in 1800 to trade with Indians. He married Lucy Cordery, half Cherokee, and their descendants were part of the Cherokee tribe.  They were involved in the “Trail of Tears” in 1838 when the Cherokees were removed from Georgia.  Clem Rogers became a US Senator in Oklahoma and his son Will Rogers a popular vaudeville entertainer.

Zachariah Rogers, born in South Carolina, was among the earliest settlers of Wayne county, Mississippi in 1810.  Among his descendants were:

  • Dr. Lafayette Rogers, born in 1875 who was an optician and a Mississippi state legislator
  • and Jimmie Rodgers, born in 1897 in Alabama, the musician who is widely considered as the father of country music.

Canada.  Timothy Rogers, born to a poor family in Connecticut, emigrated to Ontario in 1800 and was the founder of Quaker settlements that became the Newmarket and Pickering communities.

The line from Samuel Rogers of Pickering led to Albert S. Rogers, a Toronto businessman, and then to the radio pioneer Ted Rogers Sr. and to his son Ted Rogers Jr. who founded Rogers Communications. The Rogers family are now among the richest in Canada.

South Africa.  John Rogers apparently ran away from his home in Kent when he was about fourteen. Working as a cabin boy, he made his way to South Africa around 1815 and eventually married and settled down in Grahamstown. However, Mormon missionaries came calling and the Rogers family departed for Utah in 1859.

Rogers Surname Miscellany

Rogers Manor in Bradford.  Rogers Manor in Bradford, Wiltshire was built by Thomas Rogers, Sergeant-at Law, around the year 1450 after his marriage to the heiress Cecily Besill.  The manor remained with his descendants until the death of Anthony Rogers in 1583, the last male of this line.

But a Rogers name continued at Bradford, this being Sir Francis Rogers who is believed to have been a descendant of Sergeant Thomas Rogers through his second wife.  The manor did eventually leave the Rogers family in 1659 when it was sold by Francis’s brother Henry for a reported £3,000.

Rogers Manor passed through many hands since that time.  In 1930 the manor was advertised at £12,000 as the “greatest bargain ever offered.”  It received no takers.  Seven years later the building was dismantled piece by piece and auctioned off at very low prices.

From Protestant Martyr to Plymouth Merchant.  John Rogers, translator of the Bible, was in 1554 the first person burned at the stake for his Protestant beliefs during the bloody reign of Queen Mary.  One of his sons is believed to have been the Rev. Vincent Rogers, Minister of Stratford-le-Bow in London in 1586.

From there this family line can be seen more clearly.  His son, the Rev. Nehemiah Rogers, moved to Essex and was an Anglican minister at Messing. John of the next generation, also brought up to be a clergyman, started to espouse extreme Puritan views and revolted his father so much that he was turned out of the house in 1642.  John remained radical in religion and politics and, after the Restoration, moved for a time to Holland.

His son John stayed away from religion and moved to Plymouth in the west country as a merchant.  He made a considerable fortune in pilchard curing, entered Parliament in 1698, and was created Baronet of Wisdome in Devon a year later. 

The Rev. Nathaniel Rogers.  John Rogers the Protestant martyr had many descendants but none of them, according to the most recent research, was the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers.

Nathaniel Rogers, born in 1598, was the second son of the Rev. “Roaring John” Rogers of Dedham in Essex. In his youth he had been heavily influenced by the Puritans in Essex. This contact encouraged his departure with his family for Puritan America in 1636.  He became pastor at Ipswich, Massachusetts two years later. He took the place of the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, a stepson of his great uncle the Rev. Richard Rogers who was soon to come to New England himself.

Nathaniel and his wife Margaret raised five children, four sons and one daughter.  Their eldest son John, who had come to New England as a child, graduated from Harvard in 1649 and served as President of Harvard College from 1682 to 1684.  A later Nathaniel Rogers had the Old Manse built on Main Street in Ipswich in 1727.  The house still stands there today.

Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower.  Thomas Rogers was a Mayflower passenger who died at Plymouth during the first winter.  A fellow passenger wrote:

“Thomas Rogers and Joseph his son came.  His other children came afterwards.  Thomas Rogers died in the first sickness, but his son Joseph is still living and is married and hath six children.”

These remarks suggest many descendants in America.  But only two can be authenticated – Joseph and his brother John who were each granted land at Marshfield in 1640.

Back in Holland, the Leiden poll tax lists of 1622 showed that Thomas had left behind his wife Alice, his two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, and a son John. Thomas and Alice had married in the town of Watford in 1597.  Rogers’ family records in Watford go back to the 1550’s.

Adam Rogers the Rogerene.  Adam Rogers, born around 1670, was a freed mulatto who married a white woman.  He had been raised in Connecticut in the New London house of John Rogers, the founder of a radical sect modelled after the Quakers called the Rogerenes.

After setting up his own rural household, Adam was a squatter for what he himself described as “thirty years” on some of New London’s common ground. In 1744 the land was sold out from under him and he and his family were forcibly evicted from the property, their belongings being tossed over the fence and their dwelling place destroyed.   He was probably 70 to 75 years old at the time.

What happened after that is not known.  But his line did continue in nearby East Haddam as some of his descendants were buried there. 

Clem Rogers, Rancher and Cherokee Politician.  Clem’s father Robert and his Cherokee wife Sallie lived in a log cabin in the Going Snake district of the Cherokee Nation near the Arkansas border.  That was where Clem Rogers was born in 1839.

His father,  a big, loud, dark-skinned mustached man from whom, it was said, Clem got much of his temper and bluntness,” died in a fight three years after Clem was born.  Loss of his father, resentment about his new step-father, and dislike of school saw him leave home early for the life of a cowboy.

Clem later began his own cattle ranch in Texas, but it was destroyed during the Civil War.  He started over again and prospered with a new ranch some seven miles away from his old homestead along the Verdigris river.

In later life he involved himself in Cherokee politics and was closely involved in Oklahoma’s admittance to statehood. Rogers county in Oklahoma was named in his honor. He died there at his Chelsea home in 1911. By this time his son Will had become a popular vaudeville entertainer.

The Rogers Family Enroute to Utah.  John Rogers was living in Grahamstown, South Africa when, around 1854, he and his family and their neighbors the Days were converted to the Mormon faith.  Soon they desired to sail to America and join with the saints in Utah.

In May 1859, having gained possession of a small boat, John (aged 59), his wife Jane (aged 42), and their son Daniel (aged 26) departed for America.  When they got to Boston they bought oxen and a wagon for the journey across the plains.  They traveled with the Edward Stevenson ox-team company.

Captain Stevenson called the emigrants together and told them not to separate themselves from the company for any reason.  But when they arrived in Wood River country they started seeing buffalo and it was difficult to resist the temptation to follow the buffalo for meat.  The following happened:

“Two men named Rogers, father and son, got on a trail of a large buffalo and succeeded in killing and skinning him.  They realized how far they were from camp and it was agreed that the father should remain and take care of the dead buffalo while the son should go to camp for assistance to carry it.

Several men went with Daniel to retrieve the buffalo but they didn’t find his father John.  They organized a party of men to search for him while the company waited, but weren’t able to locate him.

The company halted for the night and was just getting ready for bed when the old man came, footsore and weary, into camp.  He apologized to the captain for disobeying orders.  He had been gored by the buffalo and had hidden from another buffalo that he thought would attack him.”

John Rogers walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Rogers Names

  • Woodes Rogers was an 18th century English privateer who became Governor of Bermuda.
  • Henry H. Rogers was considered as the brains of Rocckeller’s Standard Oil Trust company.
  • Jimmie Rodgers, popular in the 1920’s, is widely considered as the father of country music.
  • Will Rogers was a popular vaudeville artist and movie actor of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
  • Ginger Rogers, the dance partner to Fred Astaire, was born Virginia McMath.
  • Roy Rogers, born Leonard Franklin Slye, was the well-known cowboy actor and singer.
  • Carl Rogers from Chicago was one of the foremost psychologists of the 20th century.
  • Richard Rodgers was an American musical composer best known for his collaborations with Oscar Hammerstein. He came from a German family which had changed its name from Abrahams.   
  • Richard Rogers is a British architect noted for his modernist and functionalist designs.
  • Kenny Rogers has been the popular American country music singer from Texas.

Rogers Numbers Today

  • 75,000 in the UK (most numerous in Surrey)
  • 125,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 44,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Rogers and Like Surnames   

Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name.  The “s” suffix is more common in southern England and in Wales.  Here are some of these surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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