ROWE, Anthony (d.1704), of Whitehall.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Sir Thomas Rowe of Muswell Hill, Mdx. and Swarford, Oxon. by Anne, da. of Anthony Langton of Littleton, Worcs. m. Mary, da. of Robert Manley, merchant, of Stepney, Mdx., 3da.1
Commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1677-80, Mdx. and Westminster 1689-90; j.p. Mdx. 1689-d., dep. lt. 1692-d.; capt. of militia horse, Westminster by 1697-d.; keeper of wild-fowl, St. James’s Park by 1700-d.; ranger, Hyde Park 1702-3.2
Adjutant to the Duke of Monmouth 1678-83; farmer of hearth-tax 1679-84; granitor of the stables 1684-?Nov. 1688, avenor 1689-94; asst. Mines Co. 1693; clerk-comptroller of the green cloth 1694-d.3
Rowe was descended from Sir Thomas Rowe, lord mayor of London 1568-9. He was a cousin of Sir Thomas Roe, the diplomat, who sat for Oxford University in the Long Parliament until he was given leave to go abroad, but none of the family appears to have taken part in the Civil War.4
‘A man of loose principles’, Rowe attached himself to the Duke of Monmouth, and became his adjutant during the Flanders campaign of 1678. In August, together with Nathaniel Johnson and three other partners, he was granted a lease of the hearth-tax for five years, commencing at Michaelmas 1679, with the usual substantial advance to the crown. The original contract, as negotiated by Danby, would have required the farmers to pay in the bulk of their surplus at the end of their term; but a modification arranged with Lord Rochester (Laurence Hyde) on behalf of the Treasury in 1681, and the increased efficiency in administration that followed, brought them a substantial profit. Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile) accused Rochester of corruption, but a full-scale investigation of the farmers’ accounts launched in the early months of 1683 had not been completed when the lease expired, largely owing to their delays and evasions. Nevertheless, according to Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce) Rowe remained a warm and indiscreet partisan of Monmouth, attending his ‘progress’ in 1682, and going about the coffee-houses to deny his master’s confession and to assert that the Rye House Plot was ‘nothing but state policy ... to take away the lives of so many noble and worthy patriots and assertors of the Protestant Church, because they had so bravely opposed a Popish successor’. The King told him that he was only harming Monmouth’s interest, but nevertheless continued to employ him in the royal stables under the commission set up when his master was stripped of his offices. Rowe and James Vernon were arrested on Monmouth’s invasion in 1685, but soon released, and in March 1688 he was granted a general pardon excluding only his hearth-tax accounts.5
During the Revolution Rowe was one of the first Whigs to go over over to William of Orange, who employed him, together with William Harbord and the Earl of Wiltshire (Charles Powlett II), to superintend the collection of crown revenue in the West. He may have seized the opportunity to seek a Cornish borough, and at the general election of 1689 he was returned for Penryn. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed to only five committees and acted as teller in three divisions. His real political importance, however, was as a Whig publicist. Acting in conjunction with Lord Lovelace (John Lovelace), he presented a petition on 2 Feb. ‘from great numbers of persons for crowning the Prince and Princess of Orange King and Queen’, to which Edward Seymour objected as an attempt by the mob to influence parliamentary debates. Under the new regime Rowe was promoted to avenor, or gentleman of the horse. No more speeches on his part are recorded, but on 13 May he probably introduced a petition from his brother, Sir Thomas Rowe, who was a Middlesex magistrate, concerning the poor. It was referred to the committee considering the bill to establish suburban ‘courts of conscience’ for small claims, to which he was added. On 23 July he acted as teller against a Tory amendment to the bill for restoring corporations. In the second session he devoted himself to the case of Sir Thomas Armstrong, another unsavoury associate of Monmouth’s. He was among those appointed to hear a petition from his widow and to reverse his attainder, and together with Charles Godfrey gave evidence to the House of Lords investigation. On 19 Dec. he was appointed to the revived committee for restoring corporations, and he supported the disabling clause. On 21 Jan. 1690 he acted as teller for excepting whole groups rather than individuals from the indemnity bill.6
After the dissolution of the Convention Rowe published a black list of the Members who had voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, with the evident intention of influencing the general election. His own electoral career can hardly be described as successful; he won three elections as a court Whig, but was each time unseated for bribery. He was buried at Hackney on 9 Sept. 1704, the last of the family.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. W. Robinson, Hackney, ii. 10-11; PCC 61 Penn; CSP Dom. 1654-5, p. 20.
- 2. Mdx. RO, MJP/CP5a; Eg. 1626, f. 32; Luttrell, v. 144, 293.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1678, p. 141; 1693, p. 207; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 845; Luttrell, i. 503; iii. 303; LS13/231/28.
- 4. Lysons, Environs, iii. 52; Keeler, Long Parl. 325.
- 5. Ailesbury Mems. 84; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 293; 1682, p. 429; 1685, p. 231; D. Chandaman, Eng. Pub. Revenue, 101-4, Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1817.
- 6. Ellis Corresp. ii. 324; Luttrell, i. 477, Grey, ix. 45; CJ, x. 233, 292, 338, LJ, xiv. 382-3.
- 7. IHR Bull. lii. 39-40; Luttrell, v. 462; Lysons, ii. 506.