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Letter from Dr. W.W. Stevenson to Alexander Campbell
From the "News from the Churches" section of the Millenial Harbinger, 1852, p. 536.
CALIFORNIA.-- Bro. Stevenson, under date of San Francisco, May 17th, thus addresses his brother:  "I am at present in this most singular city, a description of which would be difficult and unintelligible.  I left Stockton two weeks ago to meet some brethren at at (sic) San Jose.  I spoke twenty times in set discourses.  We met every day during some twelve days, and 17 made the good confession, and 10 others united, two Methodists and four Baptists -- the former had been immersed, and came in for union.  It was a most interesting meeting; indeed, I have never witnessed more interest any where.  A preaching brother named Thompson, formerly of Missouri, had the pleasure to see five of his family obey the Lord.  The congregation is not fully set in order, there being but one elder, but he is a man of 'faith.'  He did the immersing with a solemnity I never witnessed before.  He is the great, great grand son of the Smithfield martyr, John Rogers.  He is the representative of the name and a worthy son of so good a man.  His relationship, his piety, his venerable gray hairs and Godly family caused me to venerate him beyond any man I have met.  He was overwhelmed with the success of the meeting, and when we parted, he gave me the ancient fraternal embrace.  It was with difficulty that I could tear myself away from the people.  You have never seen such deep affection shown as every Disciple evinced when I left.  I am in this great city looking up the scattered sheep.  God willing, will leave for home in a day or two." -- [The above communication, from our Bro. W.W. Stevenson, will give much pleasure and occasion of thankfulness. -- A.C.]
Transcriber's Comment:

Thomas Thompson's parents are not known, so no link to John Rogers (c1500-1555)  or to any other ancestor can be considered established.   Relationship to John Rogers is very difficult to prove, and few Americans have made such a connection.  In the case of Thomas Thompson, at least ten to fifteen generations would separate him from John Rogers, not a mere four.  To quote Joseph Lemuel Chester in his 1861 book, John Rogers (Longman, Green Longman, & Roberts, London), beginning on p. 221:

"After a thorough research in every available quarter and a careful examination of all the authorities, both public and private, at command, all that can at present be known, or reasonably presumed, in reference to his genealogy, will be found in the following pages.  Especial attention has been paid to this subject, because there are very many in England, and many more in America, who proudly claim their descent from him [p. 222] and who will be glad to know with what reason and upon what grounds such claims are based.  It is much to be feared that a large number, especially in the latter country, will be compelled to abandon the pleasing tradition which they have so long cherished and resign all hope of commencing their pedigrees with the name of the Smithfield sufferer."
And from a footnote on p. 217:
"The writer is aware that it is no uncommon thing to see, even at this day, attached to obituary notices of persons of the name of Rogers, the words, 'descended from the Martyr in Queen Mary's days,' &c.; but he has yet to find more than one instance, for more than a century, where this assertion even appears well-founded.  On the other hand, he has taken pains to investigate every case where the probabilites seemed in its favour and has invariably traced the ancestry to some other family of the same name or discovered that the claim was entirely unwarranted.  He has collected a vast number of names and pedigrees and does not speak without due care and research."
I hope some day we are able to prove a connection to John Rogers, for he is a man to be greatly venerated, but I think it is a mistake to accept as fact the tradition that Thomas Thompson is a descendant of John Rogers until it is proven.  My experience has been that most family legends of relationships to famous people, especially in the distant past, turn out not to be true. 

On the up side, given Bro. Stevenson's praise of Thomas Thompson, I think we can admire him for who he was, whoever his ancestors turn out to be and isn't that that the best reason to take pride in being his descendant?

Family Group Sheet of Thomas THOMPSON
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