J. J. Rogerson was born in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland in 1820. He apprenticed with the J. & W. Stewart Company before going into business with his father in 1841. The firm of Peter Rogerson and Son sold fishing supplies and owned ships involved in seal hunting. Rogerson later became the owner of a string of factories in and around St. Johnís.

He was appointed to the Legislative Council of Newfoundland in 1850 and to the Executive Council in 1857. He also sat in the Newfoundland House of Assembly, being elected in Burin in 1860 and Bay de Verde in 1870. He served as Receiver-General from 1874 to 1882 before resigning in an argument with William Whiteway over government financial dealings.

He then became one of the founders of a new political party in Newfoundland, the New Party, which he led in the election of 1882. Whiteway easily defeated the New Party and Rogerson lost his own seat in Bay de Verde, after which he retired from politics. Rogerson was noted not only as a politician but as a benefactor to several charities.

In 1865 he established a school for the children of destitute parents in St. Johnís. It was known as the "ragged school" and operated until 1869. In 1880 he donated a large sum of money to help found a home for fishermen in St. Johnís, which opened in 1886. He laid the cornerstone of Gower Street Methodist Church in 1856 and was later active in the establishing of George Street and Cochrance Street Methodist Churches. James Rogerson died in Newfoundland in 1907.