ROW (RAUF), John, of Totnes, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
prob. steward of the guild of Totnes Nov. 1381-2; mayor, Totnes 1387-93.1
In October 1361 the Cluniac monks of Totnes priory granted Row for life an annuity of four marks charged on their manors of Garston and Ashprington, a furred robe every Christmas, an esquire’s corrody of meat, drink and fuel, his own room in the monastery and the use of two horses, promising at the same time that he might, at the convent’s expense, ride with the prior whenever he went on a journey. Row was still in the priory’s service 20 years later, being then allocated leases of land in Garston for an annual rent of half a mark and in Harberton and Dartington for £1 p.a. (with the proviso that after the expiry of 60 years his heirs should pay £6 p.a. for them). These grants were confirmed by royal letters patent issued in November 1382. As well as the premises mentioned, Row later held property in Totnes, next to the guildhall, by gift of the commonalty, and perhaps as a reward for services performed by him for the town when mayor. He is known to have occupied this office for no fewer than six consecutive years. But not without incident: during his first mayoralty he was accused in the court of common pleas of unjustly imprisoning one John Tanner and stealing his merchandise, but Row pleaded in defence that he had been acting in his official capacity and had sought only to levy the customary local tolls.2 It was perhaps because he was travelling up to Westminster for this suit in any case that the burgesses elected him to the Parliament which convened during the same law term, that of Hilary 1388.
Row may have supplemented his income from land by exporting cloth through Dartmouth, for in 1393 several lengths were shipped overseas in his name.3