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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

William Rogers, C.E., F.G.S

William Rogers, C.E., F.G.S.

The late Mr. Rogers, whose portrait will be found on the opposite page, was born in 1846, at Melverley, in Shropshire, of which parish his father, the Rev. Henry Rogers, was rector for many years.

For generations the ancestors of Mr. Rogers occupied prominent positions as solicitors in the district of Oswestry, and he was the first of his family to enter the more practical profession of mining.

Like many other men who have gained distinction on lines which was not originally intended that they should pursue, Mr. Rogers was first entered for the page 64 medical profession and no doubt would have won no mean reputation as a doctor; but he had no strong proclivities in that direction, and what medicine has lost mining has gained.

Mr. Rogers received a good sound liberal education under Dean Harrison at the Liverpool Collegiate School, now Queen's College, and went to Wigan, in Lancashire, in 1863, at the age of seventeen, unknown, unrecommended, and unpatronised, and entered as a mining engineer's pupil with Mr. Isaac Perrins, commencing at the very foot of the ladder. In his case, and it proved not a disadvantage but au incentive, there was no royal road to distinction; he fought his way step by step, with indomitable perseverance, great force of character, and unquestionable ability.

There is probably no coal-field in the world that affords a better training-ground for young men willing to rough it than that of Lancashire; and Mr. Rogers' varied experience in these earlier days stood him in good stead in after life.

In 1867 he commenced practice on his own account, having just attained his majority, and rapidly built up a wide and a, good connection. In 1870 he joined hands with his former employer, who died a year and a half later, and Mr. Rogers, whilst a very young man (twenty-five years of age), became the sole head of a large mining engineering business.

Collieries previously unproductive and unprofitable became large concerns, and realized substantial, profits; page 65 and he made progress until there was no mining engineer in Lancashire, and few even in the United Kingdom, with a larger or more successful practice or a more influential connection.

So busy a professionial man had little time for the public work which fells to aspirants for municipal and Parliamentary honours, but in November, 1888, the fellow-townsmen of Mr. Rogers, for the first time in the history of the borough, extending over six centuries, went outside the ranks of the Corporation, and unanimously elected him to the position of chief magistrate, and he became, in consequence of the recent Local Government Act creating County Councils, the first Mayor of Wigan as a county borough.

During his mayoral year he was made a county magistrate for Lancashire, and he received the Royal Manchester and Liverpool and North Lancashire Agricultural Society at a gathering which, mainly through his efforts, was the most successful meeting that had been held for many years.

There was a universal desire on the part of the Corporation and inhabitants of Wigan that he should continue in the mayoral office for a second year, and much regret was expressed that pressure of professional work made it impossible to accept. He was entertained at a banquet and had conferred upon him the honorary Freemanship of the Borough, being the first appointment under the Act of 1885.

Mr. Rogers was a man of splendid physique, a page 66 thorough Englishman, a keen sportsman, at home a real country gentleman, and an excellent practical speaker, always expressing himself with brevity and with clearness,