ROUS, Anthony (bef.1560-1620), of Halton St. Dominick, Cornw.

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

b. bef. 1560, 1st s. of Richard Rous of Rogate, Suss. by Elinor, da. of Sir Edmund Marvyn. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Southcote of Bovey Tracey, Devon, 5s. 1da.; (2) aft. Jan. 1585, Philippa (d.1620), da. of Humphrey Colles of Barton, Som., wid. of Alexander Pym of Brymore, Som., 3da.; (3) 13 Sept. 1620, Susan (d.1633), da. of Sir Lewis Pollard of King’s Nympton, Devon, wid. of John Copleston, s.p. suc. to estates of his uncle John soon aft. 1577. Kntd. 23 July 1603.1

Offices Held

J.p.q. Cornw. from c.1583, Devon from c.1592; sheriff, Cornw. 1587-8, 1602-3; dep. warden of stannaries; recorder, Launceston.2


Rous was the eldest son of a landless younger son. He was not made an executor of his father’s will because of ‘dwelling far off.’ Soon after the death of his uncle in 1577 (whose brother and heir was over 60), he came into an estate on the Tamar, a few miles to the north of Saltash, which gave him some standing. He was one of the few Elizabethan Members to be returned for East Looe on his own local interest. Several of his relatives and friends also sat in 1584: two of his Marvyn cousins for Petersfield, Richard Carew of Antony for Saltash and Sir Francis Drake for Bossiney. Alexander Pym, whose widow Rous was to marry, represented Taunton.

Rous was an active member of the commission of the peace for Cornwall during the last two decades of Elizabeth’s reign, being particularly concerned with piracy. When ships were to be arrested and the cargoes of privateers confiscated at Plymouth, he was usually one of those to whom the Privy Council sent its directions. In 1590 he was ordered to confiscate goods brought in by Hawkins and Frobisher, on the grounds that the Eastland ships they had taken were not lawful prize. The Cornish justices were to make plain ‘how offensive it was to her Majesty that this licentious kind of dealing should be used’. The task was not easy. On another occasion Hawkins hijacked a cargo of cochineal that the commissioners had taken from him, and Rous and his colleagues were ordered to recover it.3

During 1596 he was much occupied with the affairs of Sir Francis Drake, who had recently died. Rous was one of the trustees of his friend’s estate and one of the original executors of his will. This was disputed by Thomas, Sir Francis’s brother, the question coming to the notice of the Privy Council. A master of requests was appointed to examine the rival claims. He found in favour of Thomas Drake. Rous and his fellow trustees continued to obstruct Drake in his attempts to execute the will, and the Privy Council instructed a serjeant-at-law to arbitrate. A letter to Sir Robert Cecil in August 1596 shows that the Privy Council was interested in goods held by the trustees, which should have gone to the Crown for the payment of £2,000 in sailors’ wages owed by Drake, but which they refused to deliver.4

Rous was said to have been pricked sheriff in 1587 because of his stalwart protestantism, and when he served again in 1602-3, increasingly firm measures were taken against Cornish recusants. He was the patron and protector of several puritan ministers, but he was also the friend of Matthew Sutcliffe, dean of Exeter, and an active member of the High Commission.5

Rous continued to earn the respect of his Cornish neighbours for his charity, equity and piety during James I’s reign as he had done under Elizabeth, and in 1604 sat as knight of the shire for the county where he had lived all his life. He died in 1620.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 194-5; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 225, 598, 698; G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Biblio. Cornub. 595; PCC 8 Daughtry.
  • 2. PCC 38 Spencer; D. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. ii. 423; Lansd. 737, f. 133v; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 205; C. Fitzgeffrey, Elisha His Lamentation ... (1622), pp. 43-4; R. and O. B. Peter, Launceston, 406.
  • 3. APC, xix. 384, 399; xx. 4, 34, 82, 139, 141-2, 148, 226; xxi. 230-1, 345, 377; xxii. 37; xxiii 200.
  • 4. APC, xxvi. 21, 49, 137-8; HMC Hatfield, vi. 347-8, 355.
  • 5. A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 377, 395; Collinson thesis, 496; Devon RO. Bp. of Exeter mss. 21, ff. 25, 78; SP14/10a/81; DNB (Rouse, Francis; Fitzgeffrey, Charles; Hieron, Samuel; Sutcliffe, Matthew); S. Hieron, Works (1625), preface; Elisha His Lamentation, 37-8, 40-1; R. Winwood, Mems. iii. 160-1; T. Birch, Mems. Q. Eliz. i. 61.