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Rogerson, Isabella Whiteford

Main entryRogerson, Isabella Whiteford
Birth placeFair Head, County Antrim, Ireland
Birth date3 January 1835
Death placeSt. John's, Newfoundland
Death date2 February 1905
Birth nameIsabella Whiteford
Alternate namesCaed Mille Failtha; Isabella
Married nameRogerson
Marital statusmarried
Religious affiliationMethodist
Other workpolitician's wife
BiographyBorn in County Antrim, Isabella Whiteford (1835-1905) began as a child to write verse about the scenery of her native Ireland. She continued her poetic bent in the similarly evocative landscape of Newfoundland when she immigrated with her parents in 1850. Her first volume of poetry, published in Belfast in 1860, includes some of the verses of her youth. This was followed by a second collection published in Toronto in 1898. She married a leading politician of the colony, James Johnstone Rogerson (1820-1907), and joined in his temperance and philanthropic work, which focused primarily on educational and housing provisions for Newfoundland's poor, unemployed, and incarcerated residents. Isabella also presided over the Church Woman's Missionary Society and, for many years, led Methodist classes. Her occupation with caring for her parents and siblings during illnesses is reflected in the domestic and religious themes of much of her verse. Often signing her work under a pseudonym, including "Caed Mille Failtha" which means "a hundred thousand welcomes," Isabella died in 1905 and was buried in the Rogerson family vault at the General Protestant Cemetery in St. John's.
Other notesAlthough she had no children of her own, Isabella referred to James Johnstone Rogerson's offspring as her sons and daughters, as is evidenced in her final will. The primary recipient of Isabella's estate, Jessie Rogerson, was also the wife of Isabella's nephew, lawyer and politician Alexander James Whiteford McNeily (1845-1911), making the Whiteford/Rogerson/McNeily family an influential one in nineteenth-century Newfoundland.
ResidencesFair Head, Ireland (1835-1850); St. John's, Newfoundland (1850-1905); summered at "Dunluce" on outskirts of St. John's (1859-)
Geographic regionsNewfoundland; Maritimes
Primary genrespoetry
Father's nameAlexander Whiteford
Life dates of fatherc1790, Fair Head, Antrim, Ireland - 18 December 1867, St. John's, Newfoundland
Father's notewatchmaker; lay circuit steward and trustee for Methodist church in St. John's
Mother's nameIsabella Mathers
Life dates of motherc1790 - 4 April 1865, St. John's Newfoundland
Mother's noteemployed at Reynolds & Co, dry goods supplier
Spouse 1Honorable James Johnstone Rogerson
Life dates of spouse 121 March 1820, Grace Bay, Newfoundland - 17 October 1907, St. John's, Newfoundland
Spouse 1 notemember, Newfoundland House of Assembly; Receiver General; editor of Methodist Temperance Society journal; first wife, Emma Garrett Blaikie, with whom had seven children
Marriage 1 date1879
Biographical referencesStory, "Whiteford, Isabella (Rogerson)," DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN BIOGRAPHY XIII, University of Toronto/Université Laval (Web, 2000); REGISTERED HERITAGE STRUCTURES, Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site/Memorial University of Newfoundland (Web, 1998)
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), p. 170
Research referencescomplete
Image creditsImage from Isabella Whiteford Rogers, The Victorian Triumph, And Other Poems (Toronto: William Briggs, 1898), frontispiece.
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.