Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 49.djvu/130

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


he began his researches into the history of agriculture and prices, on which his permanent fame rests. In 1862 he was elected by convocation for a term of five years Drummond professor of political economy in the university of Oxford. He zealously performed the duties of his new office, and in 1867, when his tenure of the Drummond professorship expired, he offered himself for re-election. But his advanced political views, and his activity as a speaker on political platforms, had offended the more conservative members of convocation. Bonamy Price [q. v.] was put up as a rival candidate, and, after an active canvas on his behalf, was elected by a large majority. Despite his rejection, Rogers busily continued his economic investigations. He had published the first two volumes of his ‘History of Agriculture’ in 1866. There followed in 1868 a student's ‘Manual of Political Economy,’ in 1869 his edition of Adam Smith's ‘Wealth of Nations,’ and in 1871 an elementary treatise on ‘Social Economy.’

One of Rogers's elder brothers, John Bligh Rogers, who was engaged in medical practice at Droxford, Hampshire, had married Emma, sister of Richard Cobden, on 16 Oct. 1827. This connection brought Rogers in his youth to Cobden's notice, and the two men, despite the difference in their ages, were soon on terms of intimacy. Rogers adopted with ardour Cobden's political and economic views, and, though subsequent experience led him to reconsider some of them, he adhered to Cobden's leading principles through life. He was a frequent visitor at Cobden's house at Dunsford, and Cobden visited Rogers at Oxford. After Cobden's death Rogers preached the funeral sermon at West Lavington church on 9 April 1865, and he defended Cobden's general political position in ‘Cobden and Modern Political Opinion,’ 1873. He was an early and an active member of the Cobden Club. Through Cobden he came to know John Bright, and, although his relations with Bright were never close, he edited selections of Bright's public speeches in 1868 and 1879, and co-operated with him in preparing Cobden's speeches for the press in 1870. Under such influences Rogers threw himself into political agitation, and between 1860 and 1880 proved himself an effective platform speaker. He championed the cause of the North during the American civil war, and warmly denounced the acts of Governor Eyre in Jamaica. In the controversy over elementary education he acted with the advanced section of the National Education League. In 1867 he contributed an article on bribery to ‘Questions for a Reformed Parliament.’ He was always well disposed towards the co-operative movement, and presided at the seventh annual congress in London in 1875.

Having thus fitted himself for a seat in parliament, Rogers was in 1874 an unsuccessful candidate for Scarborough in the liberal interest. From 1880 to 1885 he represented, together with Mr. Arthur Cohen, Q.C., the borough of Southwark. After the redistribution of seats by the act of 1885 he was returned for the Bermondsey division. He took little part in the debates of the House of Commons, but on 10 March 1886 moved and carried a resolution recommending that local rates should be divided between owner and occupier. He followed Mr. Gladstone in his adoption of the policy of home rule in 1886, and consequently failed to retain his seat for Bermondsey at the general election in July of that year.

Before and during his parliamentary career Rogers lectured on history at Mr. Wren's ‘coaching’ establishment in Bayswater. But he still resided for the most part at Oxford, and continued his contributions to economic literature. In 1883 he was appointed lecturer in political economy at Worcester College, and on the death of his old rival, Bonamy Price, in 1888, he was re-elected to the Drummond professorship at Oxford. He died at Oxford on 12 Oct. 1890.

Rogers married, on 19 Dec. 1850, at Petersfield, Anna, only daughter of William Peskett, surgeon, of Petersfield; she died without issue in 1853. On 14 Dec. 1854 Rogers married his second wife, Anne Susanna Charlotte, second daughter of H. R. Reynolds, esq., solicitor to the treasury, by whom he had issue five sons and a daughter. A portrait by Miss Margaret Fletcher is in the possession of the National Liberal Club, the library of which owes much to his counsel, and another by the same artist is in the hall of Worcester College, Oxford.

It is as an economic historian that Rogers deserves to be remembered. Of minute and scholarly historical investigation he was a keen advocate, and to his chief publication, ‘History of Agriculture and Prices,’ English historical writers stand deeply indebted. No similar record exists for any other country. The full title of the work was ‘A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from the year after the Oxford Parliament (1259) to the commencement of the Continental War (1793), compiled entirely from original and contemporaneous records.’ Vols. i. and ii. (1259–1400) were published at Oxford in 1866, 8vo; vols. iii. and iv. (1401–1582) in 1882; vols. v. and vi. (1583–