Rogers, Hester Ann (née Roe)

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The daughter of the Rev. James Roe of Macclesfield and niece of the Rev. Charles Roe, was born on 31 January 1756. She was the second wife of the itinerant, James Rogers. She was well read, notably in Roman and English history. Although at first opposed to Methodism, she came under the influence of the evangelical David Simpson of Christ Church and in November 1774 was converted under the preaching of Samuel Bardsley. She met with her family's disapproval by living for some months as a servant in her own home. In February 1776 she had an intense mystical experience and on 1 April that year met Wesley for the first time. He encouraged and advised her, chiefly through their correspondence.

Her husband, James Rogers (1749-1807; e.m. 1774) was born at Marske, Yorks. His first appointment as an itinerant was to York. In 1779 he married Martha Knowlden and they had two children. After her death, in 1784 he married Hester Roe. During her husband's three years in Dublin, Hester led a class and wrote her Spiritual Letters (1796) which, together with extracts from her diary, became for many a book of devotions. After her death this Account of the Experience of Hester Ann Rogers was reprinted many times, with additional material including Coke's funeral sermon. She also contributed to the Arminian Magazine and wrote some verse. After six years in Ireland, in 1790 they moved to Wesley's Chapel and were among those present at John Wesley's death. (In Marshall Claxton's painting she is depicted kneeling in prayer at the bedside.) James found himself involved in the disputes between trustees and preachers over John Whitehead's appropriation of Wesley's papers.

Hester died in Birmingham on 10 October 1794 after the birth of her seventh child. James retired in 1806 to his native county and died at Guisborough on 28 January 1807.

  • Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers, 4 pp.274-329
  • Rogers, Hester Ann, Experience and Spiritual Letters ... written by herself(Bristol, 1796)
  • Benjamin Smith, Methodism in Macclesfield (1875), pp.112-23 and passim
  • Methodist Recorder, Winter Number, 1906, pp.82-84
  • A.W. Harrison, 'The Sermons of James Rogers', in WHS Proceedings, 14 pp.66-68
  • Earl Kent Brown, Women of Mr. Wesley's Methodism (New York, 1983) pp.199-218
  • Vicki Tolar Collins, 'Account of the Experience of Hester Ann Rogers…', in Christine M. Sutherland and Rebecca J. Sutcliffe (eds.), The Changing Tradition: women in the history of rhetoric (Calgary, 1999) pp.109-18
  • Dorothy Bentley Smith, A Georgian Gent & Co.: the life and times of Charles Roe (Ashbourne, 2005)
  • Vicki Tolar Burton, 'Rereading The Account of Hester Ann Rogers', in Norma Virgoe (ed.), Angels and Impudent Women (2007), pp. 52-68
  • David Avery, Hester (2011)
  • Phyllis Mack, 'Dreaming and emotion in early evangelical religion' in John Coffey,ed., Heart Religion: Evangelical Piety in England and Ireland, 1690-1850 (2016) pp.157-80
  • Oxford DNB