Abraham Roentgen was born in 1711 in Mühlheim, today part of Cologne in Germany. After learning cabinetmaking in his father's shop and working at various jobs in Holland, he settled in London in 1731. He was soon employed by English cabinetmakers who admired his interesting use of inlay, inventive mechanical fittings, and the hidden drawers he used in his furniture.
In 1737 Roentgen became a member of the newly formed Moravian Church, a Protestant sect; he decided to give up his career as a cabinetmaker and emigrate to North America as a missionary. Unfortunately, he was shipwrecked off the Irish coast. After working temporarily in Galway, he returned to his native Germany. There Roentgen established a furniture workshop near the small Moravian congregation of Neuwied, on the outskirts of Cologne. He soon became known for furniture of outstanding quality created for the various German courts. Roentgen's son David succeeded him in 1772 as head of the firm, and the two then worked in partnership until Abraham retired in 1784.