Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower


In 1620, the vessel Mayflower took the first immigrants across the Atlantic to the New World of America. One of its passengers was Thomas Rogers, born around 1572-73 in Watford parish. Given this, Thomas became one of Watford's most well-known past citizens. Of the 102 passengers, the many descendants of Thomas Rogers in the United States have been well documented by the Thomas Rogers Society.

Thomas Rogers had married Alice Cosford in 1597 at Watford church. Both families, Rogers and Cosford, were tenant farmers in Watford, and knew each other before Thomas was born. Their respective fathers, William Rogers and George Cosford, each signed indentures on the same day in 1567 for the lease of farmlands in Watford. George, his wife Margaret, and their son, leased one yardland of arable land and a close of pasture. William Rogers, as yet unmarried, leased a messuage (a dwelling and the land it stood upon), half a yardland of arable, and two closes of pasture.

George Cosford's farmland had previously been leased to him in 1561, at which time he must have been at least 21 years of age, and quite likely as much as 30. Therefore he was born before 1540, or as early as 1530-33 (and therefore could not have been born as late as 1545). His father may well have been John Cosford of neighbouring Ashby Ledgers, who died leaving a will dated 1533, mentioning a son George Cosford (who obviously would have been a minor at the time).

Thomas Rogers was the eldest son of William. William's father was most probably another William Rogers who died in Watford in 1553. Less likely, his father may have been Thomas Rogers of Ashby St Ledgers, where John Cosford resided. Thomas Rogers was appointed vicar of Ashby St Ledgers in 1555, and had died in or before 1570. If Thomas had been the father of William, then William likely followed the tradition of naming his eldest son after his father, Thomas. [This paragraph updated September 30, 2018.]

William Rogers and George Cosford are again named as tenants in 1569 when the same tenements were sold to the Spencers, recent purchasers of the Comberford Manor. George gains another mention in the same year as a tenant of an unspecified parcel of land within the de Watford manor, by then the Catesby Manor.

Undoubtedly the young Thomas Rogers was brought up and worked on his father's farm. When William Rogers died in 1585 he left his own land to his eldest son, Thomas, and his leased lands to William, his younger son, both minors. After Thomas left Watford for Holland, his brother William remained a farmer in Watford.

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© September 2019 by Murray Johnston.