Rogers, Charles (1825-1890) (DNB00)

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ROGERS, CHARLES (1825–1890), Scottish author, only son of James Rogers (1767–1849), minister of Denino in Fife, was born in the manse there on 18 April 1825. His mother, who died at his birth, was Jane, second daughter of William Haldane, minister successively at Glenisla and Kingoldrum. The father published a ‘General View of the Agriculture of Angus,’ Edinburgh, 1794, 4to; an ‘Essay on Government,’ Edinburgh, 1797, 8vo; and contributed an account of Monikie and of Denino to the ‘New Statistical Account of Scotland,’ vol. ix. After attending the parish school of Denino for seven years, Charles in 1839 matriculated at the university of St. Andrews, and passed a like period there. Licensed by the presbytery of that place in June 1846, he was employed in the capacity of assistant successively at Western Anstruther, Kinglassie, Abbotshall, Dunfermline, Ballingry, and Carnoustie. Subsequently he opened a preaching station at the Bridge of Allan, and from January 1855 until 11 Aug. 1863 was chaplain of the garrison at Stirling Castle.

During his residence in Stirling Rogers was elected in 1861 a member of the town council, and took a prominent part in local improvements, including the erection of the national Wallace monument on the Abbey Craig. In 1855 he inaugurated at Stirling a short-lived Scottish Literary Institute. In 1862 he opened the British Christian Institute, for the dissemination of religious tracts, especially to soldiers and sailors, and in connection with it he issued a weekly paper, called ‘The Workman's Friend,’ and afterwards monthly serials, ‘The Briton’ and ‘The Recorder;’ but the scheme collapsed in 1863. In 1863 he founded and edited a newspaper, ‘The Stirling Gazette,’ but its career was brief. These schemes involved Rogers in much contention and litigation, and he imagined himself the victim of misrepresentation and persecution. To escape his calumniators he resigned his chaplaincy in 1863, went to England, and thenceforth devoted himself to literary work.

Rogers's earliest literary efforts in London were journalistic, but Scottish history, literature, and genealogy were throughout his life the chief studies of his leisure, and his researches in these subjects, to which he mainly devoted his later years, proved of value. Nor did he moderate the passion for founding literary societies which he had first displayed in Stirling. In November 1865 he originated in London a short-lived Naval and Military Tract Society, as a successor to his British Christian Institute, and in connection with it he edited a quarterly periodical called ‘The British Bulwark.’ When that society's existence terminated, he set up ‘The London Book and Tract Depository,’ which he carried on until 1874. A more interesting venture was Rogers's Grampian Club, for the issue of works illustrative of Scottish literature, history, and antiquities. This, the most successful of all his foundations, was inaugurated in London on 2 Nov. 1868, and he was secretary and chief editor until his death. He also claimed to be the founder of the Royal Historical Society, which was established in London on 23 Nov. 1868, for the conduct of historical, biographical, and ethnological investigations. He was secretary and historiographer to this society until 1880, when he was openly charged with working it for his own pecuniary benefit. He defended himself in a pamphlet, ‘Parting Words to the Members,’ 1881, and reviewed his past life in ‘The Serpent's Track: a Narrative of twenty-two years' Persecution’ (1880). He edited eight volumes of the Historical Society's ‘Transactions,’ in which he wrote much himself.

In 1873 a number of Rogers's friends presented him with a house in London, which he called Grampian Lodge. As early as 1854 Columbia College, New York, had given him the degree of LL.D. He was made a D.D. by the university of St. Andrews in 1881. He was a member, fellow, or correspondent of numerous learned societies, British, foreign, and colonial, and an associate of the Imperial Archæological Society of Russia. He returned to Scotland some years before his death, which took place at his house in Edinburgh on 18 Sept. 1890, at the aged 65. Rogers married, on 14 Dec. 1854, Jane, the eldest daughter of John Bain of St. Andrews.

Rogers's chief original writings may be classified thus: I. Historical and Biographical.—1. ‘Notes in the History of Sir Jerome Alexander,’ 1872. 2. ‘Three Scots Reformers,’ 1874. 3. ‘Life of George Wishart,’ 1875. 4. ‘Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay,’ 1888. 5. ‘Memorials of the Earls of Stirling and House of Alexander,’ 2 vols. 1877. 6. ‘The Book of Wallace,’ 2 vols. 1889. 7. ‘The Book of Burns,’ 3 vols. 1889–91.

II. Topographical.—8. ‘History of St. Andrews,’ 1849. 9. ‘A Week at the Bridge of Allan,’ 1851; 10th edit. 1865. 10. ‘The Beauties of Upper Strathearn,’ 1854. 11. ‘Ettrick Forest and the Ettrick Shepherd,’ 1860.

III. Genealogical.—12. ‘Genealogical Chart of the Family of Bain,’ 1871. 13. ‘The House of Roger,’ 1872. 14. ‘Memorials of the Strachans of Thornton and Family of Wise of Hillbank,’ 1873. 15. ‘Robert Burns and the Scottish House of Burnes,’ 1877. 16. ‘Sir Walter Scott and Memorials of the Haliburtons,’ 1877. 17. ‘The Scottish House of Christie,’ 1878. 18. ‘The Family of Colt and Coutts,’ 1879. 19. ‘The Family of John Knox,’ 1879. 20. ‘The Scottish Family of Glen,’ 1888.

IV. Ecclesiastical.—21. ‘Historical Notices of St. Anthony's Monastery,’ Leith, 1849. 22. ‘History of the Chapel Royal of Scotland,’ 1882.

V. Social.—23. ‘Familiar Illustrations of Scottish Life,’ 1861; 2nd edit. 1862. 24. ‘Traits and Stories of the Scottish People,’ 1867. 25. ‘Scotland, Social and Domestic,’ 1869. 26. ‘A Century of Scottish Life,’ 1871. 27. ‘Monuments and Monumental Inscriptions in Scotland,’ 2 vols. 1871–2. 28. ‘Social Life in Scotland,’ 3 vols. 1884–6.

VI. Religious.—29. ‘Christian Heroes in the Army and Navy,’ 1867. 30. ‘Our Eternal Destiny,’ 1868.

VII. Poetical.—31. ‘The Modern Scottish Minstrel,’ 6 vols. 1855–7. 32. ‘The Sacred Minstrel,’ 1859. 33. ‘The Golden Sheaf,’ 1867. 34. ‘Lyra Britannica,’ 1867. 35. ‘Life and Songs of the Baroness Nairne,’ 1869.

VIII. Autographical and General. 36. ‘Issues of Religious Rivalry,’ 1866. 37. ‘Leaves from my Autobiography,’ 1876. 38. ‘The Serpent's Track,’ 1880. 39. ‘Parting Words to the Members of the Royal Historical Society,’ 1881. 40. ‘Threads of Thought,’ 1888. 41. ‘The Oak,’ 1868.

Rogers also edited: 1. ‘Aytoun's Poems,’ 1844. 2. ‘Campbell's Poems,’ 1870. 3. ‘Sir John Scot's Staggering State of Scottish Statesmen,’ 1872. 3. ‘Poetical Remains of King James,’ 1873. 4. ‘Hay's Estimate of the Scottish Nobility.’ 5. ‘Glen's Poems,’ 1874. 6. ‘Diocesan Registers of Glasgow,’ 2 vols. 1875 (in conjunction with Mr. Joseph Bain). 7. ‘Boswelliana,’ 1874. 8. ‘Register of the Church of Crail,’ 1877. 9. ‘Events in the North of Scotland, 1635 to 1645,’ 1877. 10. ‘Chartulary of the Cistercian Priory of Coldstream,’ 1879. 11. ‘Rental-book of the Cistercian Abbey of Cupar-Angus,’ 1880. 12. ‘The Earl of Stirling's Register of Royal Letters,’ 2 vols. 1884–5.

[The autobiographical works above named; Athenæum, September 1890.]

H. P.