PROWSE, Richard (d.1607), of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

s. of Richard Prowse by Joan, wid. of Thomas ?Pole. m. (1) da.; of one Vincent of Exeter, 1da.; (2) Anne Vaughan, wid. of Henry Lok, mercer of London, at least 2s.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Exeter 1563, receiver of revenues 1575, sheriff 1576, alderman 1579, mayor 1578, 1589, 1600.


Prowse was a puritan draper or tailor whose second wife was a correspondent of John Knox. In 1565, at the suit of ‘divers gentlemen of special honour and credit’ in the county, he was granted permission to have a tennis court and bowling alleys at Exeter. On friendly terms with the Carews, Peryams and Strodes, he represented the city once in Parliament, when the MPs attended to matters concerning the salmon from the haven, a grant of the impost of wines, the mustering of horses in Exeter, and a lease of the fee farm of the manor of Ottery. Prowse was given charge of a bill introduced by his relation Richard Carew, imposing conditions for the manufacture of Devon and Cornish cloth, 15 Mar. 1584, and took charge of a bill about apprentices, 23 Mar. 1584, in which it is possible that he made an attempt to have provisos inserted on the city’s behalf. On 27 Nov. 1584 he was put on the committee of the bill for the better observing of the Sabbath day. The Exeter merchant adventurers paid Prowse £34s. ‘which he hath laid out at the said Parliament time about the suit of the Company’.

Apart from property (including a brewhouse) at Exeter, valued at £10 for the subsidy of 1576, Prowse held land at Cullompton, Devon and at Staverton, near Totnes. He died in 1607, leaving bequests to the poor at various places including Broadhempston, possibly his birthplace, where he had already built an almshouse.

Roberts thesis; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 145; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 628; Trans. Dev. Assoc. lxi. 209; HMC Exeter, 24; St. Ch. 5/E2/9; W. Cotton, Eliz. Guild Exeter, 61, 74; Exeter City act bk. 4, f. 458; 5, ff. 351, 382; D’Ewes, 333, 363, 368, 371, 372; Devon N. and Q. xxvi. 179; PCC 83 Huddleston; Devon RO, Tingay 1537.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler