ROGERS, William (1497/98-1553), of Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 1497/98. m. Catherine, ?s.p.1
Common councilman, Norwich 1527-31, keeper of the keys 1530-1, sheriff 1531-2, alderman 1532-d., auditor 1532-5, 1546, 1548, 1551, chamberlain’s council 1541-6, mayor 1542-3, Nov. 1548; commr. relief 1550.2
William Rogers, grocer, an apprentice of Alderman Robert Jannys (who was to name him executor), was sworn a freeman of Norwich on 6 Dec. 1525. Elected to the common council at Easter 1527, he progressed rapidly in wealth and civic status; within ten years he was able to lend money to the corporation for the erection of a council chamber. His election to the Parliament of 1542 was quickly followed by his first mayoralty, which he signalized by obtaining from the assembly for himself and his successors the power to dismiss city officials who were negligent in their duties. In the Commons he doubtless helped to procure the Act of 1542 protecting the Norwich worsted industry (33 Hen. VIII, c.16). It may have been his concern for the public good which gained for Rogers the support of the commonalty when in November 1548 the mayoralty became vacant through death; although the aldermen held aloof, fearing (to follow Blomefield) that opposition would precipitate an outburst, Rogers was elected. In the event, when the outburst came with Ket’s rebellion in the following summer he fared no better than his fellows: although he was no longer mayor, the rebels took him prisoner. He survived the experience by four years, during which he continued to render the city a variety of services.3
Rogers acquired much land in and around Norwich, including the manor of Thelveton, valued at his death at £40 a year. By his will he left to the corporation of Norwich, ‘to the use of God’s House to the relief of the poor’, the manor of ‘Pakemans’ and other lands in Shropham hundred; among the payments which were to be made from the endowment was one of 50s. a quarter to the schoolmaster of Aylsham. He prefaced the will, made on 10 Mar. 1552 while in sound health, with a renunciation of all such good works, ‘show they never so glorious in man’s sight as touching my redemption’, and submitted himself ‘wholly to the mere mercy of Christ who suffered for our sins alone’. He desired ‘a godly preacher’ to preach for him every Sunday or holiday in St. Andrew’s church ‘or elsewhere in the city where I have lived’, the preacher to have £8 a year and board with Rogers’s wife for five years. Seemingly childless, he made small bequests to relatives, including his godson William Rogers of London and his ‘sister’ Beatrice Lambard, but the bulk of his movable property he left to charity. The largest bequest was a sum of £300 to be loaned in units of £5, £10 and £20 ‘to the relief of merchants and other inhabitants of Norwich’ at the discretion of his widow and, on her death, of the mayor and three justices of the peace; the proviso that if they would not carry out its terms the legacy should go to the towns of Yarmouth and Lynn was to prove unnecessary, for in April 1556 the widow and the city agreed on its administration. The residue of his property Rogers gave to his wife, whom he made sole executrix, with the assistance of serjeants Thomas Gawdy I and Richard Catlyn, and his kinsman Robert Rogers of Calton (?Yorkshire). Rogers died on 25 May 1553, and the will was proved on the following 4 June.