Brown Logo

Office of University Communications
38 Brown Street / Box 1920
Providence RI 02912

401 863-2453
Fax 863-1650
[email protected]

Contact Mark Nickel


From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Rogers, William

William Rogers (1751-1824), the first student to matriculate, was born in Newport on July 22, 1751. He enrolled on September 3, 1765, the day before the second annual meeting of the Corporation, at which James Manning was elected president. He was at that time fourteen years old and had studied under the Reverend Aaron Hutchinson of Grafton, Massachusetts. He was the only student until June 10, 1766, when Richard Stites, young brother-in-law of President Manning, enrolled. At the first Commencement in 1769 he delivered an “oration on benevolence.” He taught for a while in Newport, was baptized by Gardner Thurston of Newport in 1770, and licensed to preach in August of 1771. In December of that year he left the Newport academy of which he was principal and went to Philadelphia. He was called to succeed Morgan Edwards as pastor of the Baptist Church there and was ordained on May 31, 1772. On March of 1776 he was appointed chaplain of Pennsylvania’s three battalions, and was promoted to a brigade chaplain in the Continental army in June 1778. After he ended his military service in June 1781, he was approached by three different churches (of three different denominations), but declined any appointment, preferring to supply destitute churches in the Philadelphia area. In 1784 he was called upon to perform a service for his Alma Mater, that of procuring in Philadelphia the new seal of the College which was to replace the colonial seal which bore the images of the King and Queen of England. In 1789 he was appointed professor of English and oratory in the College and Academy of Philadelphia (which became the University of Pennsylvania). He supplied the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia for two years after the death of its pastor, Thomas Ustick 1771. He resigned his professorship in the University of Pennsylvania in 1812, attributing his departure to “Arbitrary Resolutions of its Trustees to which they were instigated by the restless and ambitious spirit of a despotical Provost John Andrews.” He had numerous other interests, being at various times vice-president of the Pennsylvania society for the gradual abolition of slavery; vice-president of the Philadelphia society for alleviating the miseries of public prisons; chaplain of the Philadelphia militia legion; and a member of the Pennsylvania legislature. He died on April 7, 1824 in Philadelphia.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.

Return to Encyclopedia Index  |  University Home Page