ROUS, Francis (1581-1659), of Landrake, Cornw.; later of Brixham, Devon, Eton, Bucks. and Acton, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. c.1581,1 4th s. of Sir Anthony Rous* (d.1620) of Halton, St. Dominick, Cornw. and his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Southcote† of Bovey Tracey, Devon; bro. of Ambrose*, step-bro. of John Pym*.2 educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. 1593, aged 12, BA 1597; Leiden 1598-9; M. Temple 1601.3 m. (1) lic. 29 Aug. 1610, Honor Copleston, wid. of Boscarne, Bodmin, Cornw., s.p.;4 (2) 2 Apr. 1612, Ebbot, da. of George Grenville† of Penheale, Egloskerry, Cornw., 1s. 1da.;5 (3) 29 Aug. 1616, Philippa (d. 20 Dec. 1657), da. of one Withers of Hollocombe, Devon and wid. of Richard Stowford (d.1613) of Dolton, Devon, s.p.6 d. 7 Jan. 1659.7 sig. F[rancis] Rous.

Offices Held

Commr. sequestration, Devon 1643, assessment 1644, 1647-50, 1652;8 j.p. Devon c.1647-53, Bucks. from 1647, Mdx. from at least 1650;9 commr. oyer and terminer, Bucks. 1654-d., Mdx. 1654-d., sewers 1654-d.10

Member, Westminster Assembly 1643-at least 1646; commr. excommunication 1646, scandalous offences 1648, trier from 1654, ejector, Cornw. from 1654.11

Commr. revenue 1643-54;12 member, Derby House cttee. 1648;13 cllr. of state 1653-d.;14 member, Other House 1657.15

Commr. sequestered books 1643;16 provost, Eton Coll. 1644-d.;17 commr. appeals, Oxf. Univ. visitation 1647, gov., Westminster sch. from 1649, Windsor almshouses, Berks. from 1654; visitor, Camb. Univ. 1654.18

Speaker of House of Commons 1653.19


Dubbed by his enemies ‘the old illiterate Jew of Eton’, Rous was both more scholarly and more sincerely Christian than this insult suggests. Best known as the elderly Speaker of the Barebones Parliament, he deserves attention for his role in the 1620s as ‘an ideological spokesman for the Calvinist gentry’.20 Born around 1581 at Dittisham, Devon, where his father, Sir Anthony, owned extensive property, Rous probably spent his early life at the family’s main seat of Halton, in east Cornwall. His upbringing was firmly in the Elizabethan godly tradition. Sir Anthony, who was addicted to sermons and spiritual self-examination, patronized local preachers and visiting ministers from Scotland and the Netherlands, while his close friendship with (Sir) Francis Drake†, and his role as Cornish sheriff in the year of the Armada, doubtless also had some impact on the young Rous.21 Sir Anthony’s second wife Philippa, mother to John Pym and reputedly a model step-mother to Rous and his elder siblings, was no less fervent in her religious observance. Rous later recalled a ‘careful education [which] far exceeded the usual providence of fathers, that ordinarily looks no farther than the body, pride, and earth’.22

Rous entered Broadgates Hall, Oxford in 1593 and, ‘continuing under a constant and severe discipline’ as Anthony Wood reported, obtained his bachelor’s degree three-and-a-half years later. While at Oxford, he also penned his earliest known compositions, a sonnet praising verses by his friend Charles Fitzgeffrey on the life of Drake, published in 1596, and two lengthy poems collectively titled Thule, or Virtue’s History, probably written in the following year. These works demonstrated his familiarity with classical mythology, which he employed in the sonnet, and with Spenser’s Faerie Queene, which inspired the longer poems. Following Spenser, he introduced moralizing dictums into Thule, but they fit uncomfortably in an adolescent fantasy-world of distressed damsels, lusty knights, exotic monsters and gratuitous violence.23

In 1598-9 Rous attended Leiden University, which had not yet become a centre for anti-Calvinist teachings. Envisaging a legal career for himself, he subsequently gained admission to the Middle Temple, where he was joined in 1602 by his step-brother, John Pym. His long friendship with fellow Middle Templar (Sir) Benjamin Rudyard* dated from the same period. Rous abandoned his studies, however, following a religious conversion. The date of this experience is uncertain, but a letter from his Oxford contemporary Degory Wheare in 1605 pictured Rous engaged in doleful contemplation of human nature. In 1619 he compared his change of direction metaphorically to Jonah’s flight from God’s purpose and his recall by ‘a storm from heaven’ to his true vocation as a prophet, the earliest statement of Rous’s personal sense of mission.24

In 1609, on his last foreign journey, Rous encountered followers of the sceptic Montaigne in France. He probably also visited the Spanish Netherlands, since he made the acquaintance of the ambassador to Brussels, Sir Thomas Edmondes*, and his agent William Trumbull*.25 Rous had returned to England by the following year, when he married for the first time. His accommodation was probably supplied by his father, initially at or near Halton, and subsequently four miles away at Landrake. Sir Anthony was one of Cornwall’s richest men, and as he bequeathed Rous just £5 10s. in 1620 he had presumably made provision for him previously. Little is known of Rous’s first wife. His second marriage, less than two years later, allied him to a junior branch of another major east Cornwall family, the Grenvilles, and produced two children. However, by 1616 he was once again a widower. He chose for his third wife a widow some six years his senior with children of her own, and this union endured almost until his death.26

During this phase of his life Rous apparently devoted himself to study and writing, and judging from the citations in his published works he accumulated an extensive library. He began by immersing himself in the Bible, the writings of major Church Fathers such as Cyprian and Augustine, and historians of the Early Church like Eusebius. By the start of the 1620s, however, he was exploring not only medieval authors, for example Bernard of Clairvaux and the mystic theologian Bonaventure, but also the Tridentine decrees, recent Roman Catholic apologists such as Robert Bellarmine, and the works of Montaigne. When he launched himself fully against Arminianism in 1626, Rous’s formidable arsenal of around 40 authors included two minor followers of Augustine (Fulgentius and Prosper), two medieval archbishops of Canterbury (Anselm and Thomas Bradwardine), and the then dean of Carlisle, the pro-Arminian Francis White, whom Rous had caught in print affirming Calvinist dogma.27

The preoccupations which shaped Rous’s reading are clearly visible in his publications. His early religious treatises were essentially pastoral and evangelical in tone and content, the works of a man seeking Christian renewal within the existing framework of the Church of England. The first, which appeared in 1616, dedicated to Rous’s ‘brethren by the second birth’, makes this objective explicit in its title, Meditations of Instruction, of Exhortation, of Reproof: Endeavouring the Edification and Reparation of the House of God. This loose collection of short homilies on a diverse range of subjects was followed in 1619 by The Art of Happiness, a narrower and more systematic exposition of the path to salvation, presented as a tribute to his father. The third book, Diseases of the Time, Attended by their Remedies (1622), marked a return to the format of the Meditations, though it covered a smaller range of topics, each of which was addressed at greater length. The dedicatee was Rous’s old friend Sir Benjamin Rudyard, who had emerged in the 1621 Parliament as a champion of better provision for the clergy.28

At this stage of his career Rous was a ‘Calvinist conformist’. His upbringing and conversion experience had left him in no doubt that he was one of the Elect, ‘the citizens of the New Jerusalem’, and he was sensible of the gulf between this spiritual brotherhood and the wider ‘nominal’ membership of the church: ‘How glad should brethren and countrymen be to meet in a strange land, especially in the land of enemies, such as this world is. Think not all of them to be Israel that put on the name of Israel’. At the same time, while critical of Sunday sports and even of marriages between members of the godly and ‘gentiles’, Rous asserted the purity of Anglican doctrine and attacked those who rejected theologically sound ministers on account of their personal failings. Similarly, he inveighed against the fashion whereby ‘a true saint is called a puritan’, a term which clearly for him signified separatism, to which he was opposed.29 In many respects, Rous’s theology was unremarkable and, doubtless in his mind, orthodox. On questions of the human condition, election to new life, and the inability of the regenerate to fall away from salvation, he was rigidly Calvinist. Equally, he accepted the Protestant commonplace that the pope was Antichrist, on the usual grounds of Rome’s claim to temporal sovereignty, its dependence on human traditions and unshakeable errors such as idolatry, and the enforced ignorance of most of its followers, which kept them from the saving grace of a personal faith.30

The fact that Rous’s theology was largely self-taught probably fuelled his fundamentalist conviction that human wisdom was, by definition, no guide to salvation, which lay rather in the unquestioning acceptance of God’s decrees. In consequence, he rated effective evangelists more highly than most learned divines, and advocated meditation as a means of achieving a greater personal dependence on the Almighty. This outlook began as a reaction to papist errors and to the sceptical philosophy which he encountered in France, but it was also to dictate his response to Arminianism. One other very personal concern was a profound desire for Christian unity. Predictably he built his vision around the Elect, but by basing its membership on the single criterion of acceptance of Christ as only Saviour, and dismissing the significance of disagreement over subsidiary issues, he could contemplate a true church which embraced not only most Protestants but also some Roman Catholics. Disunity was seen as the work of the devil and, like secular undermining of the ministry and all other bars to evangelism, was to be resisted at all costs.31

Rous subsequently modified his core beliefs relatively little except in terms of emphasis, a process induced by his efforts to resist the new political and religious trends of the later 1620s and 1630s. Initially he adopted a more aggressive posture in an attempt to inject greater urgency into his call for spiritual renewal. In his 1623 publication Oyl of Scorpions: the Miseries of these Times Turned into Medicines and Curing Themselves, he declared himself a prophet of God’s wrath. Complete with a schematic diagram to ram home the argument, the book defined the signs of divine displeasure, highlighted the principal sins whose continuance threatened destruction, and outlined a programme of repentance. While it is tempting to see this as a prelude to Rous’s diatribes later in the decade, the new approach primarily represented a change of style rather than of underlying message. That he was already concerned about the gradual spread of Arminian ideas and the softening government stance towards Rome, not least as seen in James I’s Spanish Match negotiations, is suggested by the space devoted in Diseases of the Time to defending Calvinist predestination and attacking popery.32 In Oyl of Scorpions, however, as in Diseases, his principal targets were sins of a more routine nature. Working from biblical precedents, he identified as sure evidence of God’s anger the recent plague outbreak, decay of trade, poverty and climatic change, which he blamed largely on the prevalence of blasphemy, immorality, drunkenness, neglect of the Church and immodest dress. Rous asserted that the solution to these ills lay in conversion from sin, and not with politicians or indeed Parliament, which was itself diagnosed as sick on the basis of recent abortive sessions. Good government resulted from holding firm to sound religion, and therefore the righteous had a duty to act: ‘the godly are the buttresses of a kingdom, and the more ruinous a kingdom is, the stronger should the buttresses be that support it’.33 Within this analysis, the dangers of popery formed only a sub-text. Recalling England’s glorious deliverance from the Armada and the Gunpowder Plot, Rous deduced that backsliding into Romish superstition would lead to destruction, but he did not yet view this as a serious prospect. While he perceived a divine rebuke in the loss by Protestant forces of the Palatinate, he grouped the event with a list of minor, incidental signs, such as the 1622 massacre by Indians of settlers in Virginia, the upsurge in piracy and the prevalence of agricultural pests.34

The rapid rise to prominence from 1624 of alleged advocates of Arminianism, together with the growing success of international Catholicism against Protestant ventures such as the Mansfeld and Cadiz expeditions, caused Rous to revise his priorities. His next work, Testis Veritatis, written in 1626, concentrated exclusively on the threat posed by Arminianism and popery, specifically as perceived in Richard Montagu’s Appello Caesarem of the previous year. Rous’s outlook was almost certainly also influenced by his step-brother, John Pym, with whom he was linked, as he later recalled, ‘by many bands of alliance, co-education and intimate conversation’. Prior to this point the two men had apparently pursued separate agendas. While Pym launched a virulent attack on recusancy in the 1621 Parliament, Rous in Oyl of Scorpions stressed the harm caused by nominal Christians, whom he termed ‘recusants of no conscience’.35 Moreover, there is little in his early treatises to suggest support for Pym’s belief in an aggressive pan-Protestant foreign policy. From 1624, however, it is probable that their views converged. To what extent Rous encouraged Pym’s ground-breaking assault on Arminianism during the 1624 Parliament is impossible to tell, but Pym, who was primarily an expert on public finance, most likely drew on his brother’s theological expertise. Similarly, Pym’s promotion in the 1625 Parliament of a national fast and reform of the practice of impropriations was in line with the message of Rous’s most recent books, whereas on the latter issue he was opposing the wishes of his patron Lord Russell (Sir Francis Russell*). Pym is known to have prompted Rous’s later disputatious treatise, Catholic Charity, and might therefore also have had a hand in the conception of Testis Veritatis, though its argument was firmly rooted in Rous’s earlier works.36

Appello Caesarem had questioned the widespread assumption that the Church of England endorsed Calvinist doctrines of salvation. Rous’s carefully oblique response was presented as a theological study supporting Charles I’s declared aim of opposing Arminianism, to which he attached an addendum, The Grounds of Arminianism, Natural and Politic, addressing the controversy head-on. Testis Veritatis explored the themes of predestination, free will and certainty of salvation, endeavouring to demonstrate that on these subjects James I, Anglican teachings and the uncorrupted Catholic Church all affirmed Calvinist positions.37 Extensive deployment of supportive quotations from other authors, intended by Rous to convey the impression of unimpeachable orthodoxy, could not, however, disguise the fact that he was reliant at certain points on the Elizabethan Lambeth Articles and Jacobean Articles of Ireland, both Calvinist in content but lacking legal status in England. In effect, Rous was being forced to confront the unpalatable truth that his personal vision of the Church of England was not necessarily shared by the government. To a man of his convictions, this represented a major crisis. He could not accept the Arminian theses that salvation depended on man’s response as well as God’s eternal decree, and that the Elect could fall permanently from grace, claims which negated his basic understanding of Christianity. As he put it, ‘we are infinitely more bound to God for his sure mercies in that effectual grace by which he certainly saveth millions, than to Arminians for their general grace, by which they go about certainly to damn all’. To Rous, any teaching which exalted the role of human will was by definition also the product of human wisdom and pride, not God’s revelation, and could not be trusted to deliver salvation. On this basis alone, quite apart from its similarities to Roman Catholic doctrines, Arminianism could be equated with popery. Moreover, removing the special status of the Elect destroyed the concept of a true church which could be marshalled against the forces of Antichrist. From this Rous inevitably drew the same conclusion. As he explained in The Grounds of Arminianism, these allegedly Protestant views in reality constituted a plot to introduce popery by stealth; and as the Established Church formed a pillar of the state, undermining its doctrine would leave a weakened nation at the mercy of Rome and Spain. The inconvenient detail that Montagu himself denied being an Arminian was ignored. Appello Caesarem was not actually quoted directly until the very end of the addendum, when Rous seized upon a passage conceding that Arminians had contributed to civil disorder in the United Provinces to damn Montagu by association.38

Rous concluded The Grounds of Arminianism with an appeal to the 1626 Parliament to preserve that truth and unity which had hitherto protected England from its enemies. That he intended this as a call to action is indicated by his own election as an MP that year. He was returned by the borough of Truro, presumably with the backing of the locally dominant Robartes family, relatives by marriage of his nephew William Rous, who had secured a seat there in 1625.39 In all likelihood he was encouraged to stand by Pym, in order to bring his specialist knowledge to bear on religious debates in the Commons. Although Rous is not recorded as speaking in the House, he was nominated to seven committees handling religious legislation, often alongside Pym or Sir Benjamin Rudyard. The issues addressed included corrupt presentations to benefices (14 Feb.), the relative jurisdictions of church and civil courts (15 Feb. and 9 Mar.), recusancy (8 May) clerical subscription (6 May) and an attempt to give statutory force to the Calvinist Irish Articles, the so-called bill ‘for the better continuance of peace and unity in the church and commonwealth’ (14 June). All of these fell within the godly agenda, though the last item in particular, which would have resolved the doctrinal dilemma highlighted in Testis Veritatis, reflected growing distrust of the government.40 On 9 June Rous was added to a committee preparing the way for a general fast, the kind of repentance which he had advocated in Oyl of Scorpions. Unsurprisingly, he was also named to the committee of religion’s sub-committee to consider action against Richard Montagu (6 Mar.), who was adjudged guilty on 29 Apr. of publishing statements contrary to the Thirty-Nine Articles. Rous was nominated on 4 Mar., again with Pym and Rudyard, to attend the conference with the Lords concerning the Commons’ request for the duke of Buckingham to explain his part in the St. Peter affair. Of his remaining three committee appointments, one was to examine Sir Thomas Monck’s invalid election at the Cornish borough of Camelford.41

The abortive bill for ‘peace and unity’ was effectively countered on 16 June 1626 by a Proclamation ‘for the establishing of the peace and quiet of the Church of England’, which, while ostensibly even-handed, in practice banned publication of further attacks on Arminianism. Rous, who was recognized as one of Montagu’s leading critics, was therefore obliged to change his tactics once more.42 The title of his 1627 treatise, The Only Remedy That Can Cure a People, When All Other Remedies Fail, spoke volumes about his current mood. Broadly speaking, the book reverted to the format of Oyl of Scorpions, rehearsing almost identical arguments on the need for repentance, but the tone was now more desperate. With the exception of a general fast, none of the religious projects with which Rous had been associated in Parliament had reached fruition, and once more he dismissed the efficacy of this approach to reform. Surveying the scene before him, with plague and further military disasters providing clear evidence of God’s continuing displeasure, he found few signs of hope, apart from the work of the feoffees for impropriations, who were attempting to finance godly ministers. Even the application of the term ‘puritan’ to respectable ‘saints’, a mischief in which Montagu had happily indulged, was now interpreted as a work of the devil ‘to bring the very name of reformed religion into infamy’, and Rous for the first time predicted the approach of Armageddon. A fresh start remained an option, but it must now be reinforced by a covenant, whose breach would invite destruction.43

Despite the show of pessimism about worldly institutions, Rous was again returned to Parliament in 1628, this time for Tregony. As the borough was controlled by allies of William Coryton*, who had emerged as a vocal critic of government policies, it is probable that Rous was now recognized in Cornwall as sharing their views. In the records of this Parliament reference is made only to ‘Mr. Rous’, who could be Rous’s cousin Anthony. However, it seems most likely that it was this Member who was intended, as the business concerned was of an almost exclusively religious nature. Indeed, in the 1628 session four of the committee nominations were for bills nearly identical in content to those debated in 1626, such as ‘peace and unity in church and commonwealth’ (7 Apr. 1628) and clerical subscription (23 April).44 Another two committees related to familiar Rous topics, the need for better provision of preaching clergy (12 May) and the dangers of popery, in this instance a case of alleged kidnapping and forced conversion (24 May). However, the main focus of the session for Rous was the growing threat of the ‘Arminian’ tendency. On 26 Apr. he attacked Montagu for stating that Rome constituted a true church, and from 12 May he was linked to committees pursuing Richard Burgess, who had used his position as vicar of Witney to deride ‘puritanism’.45 Increasingly connected to the Arminianism issue was the question of press control. On 20 May Rous was named to a committee to consider a petition from a printer imprisoned apparently for publishing books hostile to Arminianism. He also joined a sub-committee of the grand committee of religion formed to consider Roger Manwaring’s Religion and Allegiance, the licensed texts of two sermons justifying compliance with the Forced Loan. Manwaring was not theologically Arminian, but his royal patronage served to group him with Montagu in the gradually emerging view, voiced by Pym’s ally Sir Nathaniel Rich on 24 Mar., that Arminianism constituted a threat to private property. Certainly there were parallels to be drawn. Much as Montagu had challenged the conventional understanding of orthodox Anglicanism, and tarred his opponents with the ‘puritan’ brush, Manwaring belittled the role of Parliament in authorizing taxation, and compared Loan refusers to recusants and Turks. The report which Rous on 5 May delivered to the committee of religion, under Pym’s chairmanship, was equally outspoken in its condemnation. How much of the report was Rous’s work cannot be established, though the highlighting of Manwaring’s Jesuit sources and the final biblical comparison with the lawgiving prophet Samuel are suggestive of his pen. He was further selected to help draw up a formal indictment of Manwaring, and to accompany Pym when he delivered the charges at a joint conference of both Houses on 4 June.46 Rous’s final speech during this session came during the debate on 21 May on clerical subscription, and marked a significant shift in his thinking on the Established Church. The surviving accounts conflict slightly in detail, but the general message was clear. Subscription was necessary to maintain the all-important unity of the church. Its basis should be the Book of Common Prayer, but the current book was unacceptable, in part apparently because of offensive rubrics (a common godly complaint), but more especially because the text could be amended without Parliament’s consent. On both grounds Rous commended to the House the 1552 Prayer Book, more Protestant in tone, and supposedly attached as a definitive appendix to the Act of Uniformity which authorized it. In effect, he was arguing that Parliament should assert itself as defender of the faith.47

During the 1628 session a handful of MPs, including Sir Robert Harley and Christopher Sherland, began to draw connections between theological innovation and arbitrary government, and between ecclesiastical unity and national security. However, religious concerns in general took a poor second place to questions of civil liberty, Pym and Rous making little headway with their anti-Arminian agenda. The same pattern prevailed at the outset of the 1629 session, with the continuing impasse over Tunnage and Poundage in particular highlighted by the efforts of a sitting Member, John Rolle, to recover merchandize seized by customs farmers. When a new bill for Tunnage and Poundage was introduced on 26 Jan., Sir John Eliot and Sir Robert Phelips pressed for civil grievances to be resolved before discussion of the legislation.48 At this juncture Rous hijacked the debate with a passionate plea that the House first consider the threat to religious liberty. In a speech packed with extreme and emotive imagery, he denounced the advances being made by both popery and Arminianism, the latter smoothing the way for the former and leading the country to destruction.

I desire that we may look into the belly and bowels of this Trojan horse, to see if there be not men in it ready to open the gates to Romish tyranny and Spanish monarchy. For an Arminian is the spawn of a papist; and if there come the warmth of favour upon him, you shall see him turn into one of those frogs that rise out of the bottomless pit.

Having drawn thus far on the arguments of The Grounds of Arminianism, Rous took a new tack, asserting that the destruction of true religion was the real goal of those, like Manwaring, who stirred up division over property rights. Then, using the biblical image of Job, who, deprived of his goods by the devil, recovered them by refusing to reject God, he revived his demand, first made in The Only Remedy, for a national covenant: ‘hold fast [to] our God and our religion, and then shall we ... certainly expect prosperity in this kingdom’.49 Rous had hit upon a winning combination of concerns, and the House at last turned fully to consideration of religion. If, as seems likely, he was prompted to speak by his step-brother, this intervention had entirely the desired outcome. From then until mid-February Pym and his friends were able to pursue their agenda almost unhindered. Having served his purpose, Rous then withdrew from centre stage again, rarely featuring in the events which followed. He was selected to help prepare a petition for a general fast (26 Jan.), and nominated to committees addressing both recusancy (28 Jan. and 23 Feb.) and textual changes to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer (5 February). On 4 Feb. he responded violently to the news of the royal pardons issued to Montagu, Manwaring and others, describing the men as diseased limbs of the commonwealth which should be amputated to effect a general cure.50 Rous naturally supported Eliot’s attack on Arminianism on 3 Feb., but on more secular concerns he remained tied to Pym, being named to search the Commons Journal with him (30 Jan.), and backing his argument that Rolle’s goods should be restored to him before action was taken against the customs farmers.51

The king’s decision to do without Parliaments during the 1630s returned Rous to his life of retirement. Publication of his first new work, Catholic Charity, a reply to Roman Catholic polemic, was blocked until 1641, and, as in the aftermath of the 1626 Proclamation, he turned to less controversial subjects. His next books, The Mystical Marriage (1635) and The Heavenly Academy (1638) marked a return to his interest in inward spiritual development, using imagery drawn from the Song of Solomon and the world of education as an aid to contemplation. The decade presumably also saw the composition of his metrical psalms, his first recourse to verse since Thule, published in 1641 and adopted, with modifications, for use by the Church of Scotland.52

Rous sat in both Short and Long Parliaments, and wasted no time in resuming his anti-Arminian attacks. The death of Pym, whose executor he was, deprived him in 1643 of his political mentor, but during the Civil War years he acquired a number of executive roles in Parliament, along with the provostship of Eton. His priority, however, remained settlement of religion, and, adopting Presbyterianism as the best way forward, he took the Covenant in 1643 and became a strong ally of the Scots in the Westminster Assembly. Theologically his outlook had changed little. He reiterated his views on election and free will in The Great Oracle (1644), and remained reluctant to take too narrow a view of true religion; his Balm of Love (1648), sometimes read as a plea for outright toleration, in fact essentially repeated his early conviction that membership of the true church of the Elect should take precedence over minor sectarian differences.53 Opposing the impending trial of the king, he withdrew from Parliament in late December 1648, but returned in the following February and published two of the earliest defences of the new regime, The Lawfulness of Obeying the Present Government and The Bounds and Bonds of Public Obedience, essentially arguing on pragmatic grounds that a de facto, albeit illegal, regime was preferable to anarchy. In the Rump Parliament he helped to draw up abortive plans for a state church on a congregational model. A conservative Speaker of the Barebones Parliament, he was rewarded for his part in ending the assembly with a place on Cromwell’s Council of State, though he found public life increasingly burdensome. His final publications were a somewhat unscholarly compilation from the Church Fathers, Mella Patrum (1650) and two collections of his earlier works, Interiora Regni Dei (1655) and Treatises and Meditations (1657), the latter of which he regarded as his spiritual testament. His son, a distinguished classicist and physician, had married without Rous’s approval, and died around 1643. Much of Rous’s will, drawn up in March 1658, was devoted to the grudging provisions made for the only child of this offending union, the bulk of his estate going instead to his nephew Anthony Rous†. He died on 7 Jan. 1659, and was buried at his own request in Eton College chapel.54

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Al. Ox. The date usually given, 1579, appears to derive from an inaccurate Oxf. matriculation date supplied by Anthony Wood, and the statement on Rous’s portrait in his final publication that he was aged 77 in 1656: Ath. Ox. iii. 466; F. Rous, Treatises and Meditations (1657), frontispiece.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; Bodl. Selden Supra 81, ff. 6v-7; E. Peacock, Eng. Speaking Students at Leyden Univ. 85; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Exeter Mar. Lics. ed. J.L. Vivian, 16.
  • 5. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413; R.W. Innes Smith, Eng. Speaking Students at Leiden Univ. 199; Cornw. RO, FP15/1/1.
  • 6. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 712; Boase and Courtney, ii. 602.
  • 7. Ath. Ox. iii. 468.
  • 8. A. and O. i. 111, 545, 963, 1080; ii. 295, 463, 660.
  • 9. C231/6, p. 78; C193/13/3, ff. 14, 19; Devon RO, QS28/3-5.
  • 10. C181/6, pp. 3, 17, 67, 304, 319, 327.
  • 11. A. and O. i. 181, 853, 1208; ii. 856, 969; Westminster Assembly Mins. ed. A.F. Mitchell and J. Struthers, 258.
  • 12. SP28/269, ff. 99-100; Add. 29319, f. 110.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1648-9, p. 90.
  • 14. Stuart Constitution ed. J.P. Kenyon, 311; CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 262.
  • 15. Boase and Courtney, ii. 595.
  • 16. A. and O. i. 343.
  • 17. LJ, vi. 419a; PROB 11/287, f. 15.
  • 18. A. and O. i. 927; ii. 257, 1020, 1027.
  • 19. CJ, vii. 281a, 363b.
  • 20. Ath. Ox. iii. 467; N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 138.
  • 21. PROB 11/287, f. 15; WARD 7/58/188; C. Fitz-Geffrey, Elisha his Lamentation (1622), pp. 39-41; P. Collinson, Eliz. Puritan Movement, 233; HP Commons, 1558-1603 (Anthony Rous).
  • 22. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413; C. Fitz-Geffrey, Death’s Sermon unto the Living (1622), pp. 27-8; Fitzgeffrey, Elisha, 42; Rous, Treatises, preface to ‘Art of Happiness’.
  • 23. Ath. Ox. iii. 466; C. Fitz-Geffrey, Sir Francis Drake (Oxford, 1596), preface; F. Rous, Thule, or Virtue’s Hist. (Spenser Soc. xxiii), pp. iii, v, 3, 5, 6, 8-35, 70, 82-91.
  • 24. A.W. Harrison, Beginnings of Arminianism, 33-4, 39, 58; MTR, 421; Manningham Diary ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. xcix), 155; D. Wheare, Pietas Erga Benefactores (Oxford, 1626), p. 57; Rous, Treatises, preface to ‘Art of Happiness’; Jonah 1:1-4. Rous talks of taking ship to Tarsus, but no biblical references to that city make sense of his metaphor. He presumably meant Tarshish, Jonah’s destination.
  • 25. HMC Downshire, ii. 102-3, 156; Rous, Treatises, 126.
  • 26. Exeter Mar. Lics. 16, 52; PROB 11/137, f. 508; Boase and Courtney, ii. 602; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 712-3.
  • 27. Rous, Treatises, 142, 197, 199, 243, 546; F. Rous, Testis Veritatis, 13, 15, 18, 31, 64.
  • 28. F. Rous, Meditations of Instruction (1616), preface; Rous, Treatises, preface to ‘Art of Happiness’, 95; CD 1621, iv. 343.
  • 29. Rous, Meditations, 301-2, 392; Rous, Treatises, 67, 74, 96, 199.
  • 30. Rous, Meditations, 75, 87, 149, 196, 319; Rous, Treatises, 137-45.
  • 31. Rous, Meditations, 52-4, 171, 175, 456-7; Rous, Treatises, 52-5, 67, 107, 142, 152, 196, 204.
  • 32. Rous, Treatises, 137-45, 217, 220; P. White, ‘Via Media’, in Early Stuart Church ed. K. Fincham, 224-5.
  • 33. Rous, Treatises, 222-8, 231, 234, 238, 240, 254-6, 258, 277.
  • 34. Ibid. 227, 242-50; K.R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement, 323.
  • 35. Rous, Treatises, gen. introduction, 240; Rous, Testis, 107; N. Tyacke, ‘Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-Revolution’, in Origins of the Eng. Civil War ed. C. Russell, 131-4; R. Lockyer, Early Stuarts, 24-6; CD 1621, ii. 463.
  • 36. C. Russell, ‘Parl. career of Pym’ in Eng. Commonwealth ed. P. Clark, A.G.R. Smith and N. Tyacke, 154, 160; Procs. 1625, pp. 204, 262; Rous, Meditations, 380; Rous, Treatises, general introduction, 266.
  • 37. Rous, Testis, preface, 52, 54; R. Montagu, Appello Caesarem (London, 1625), p. 72; Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 155.
  • 38. Rous, Testis, 23, 85-7, 98, 101, 105-6; Montagu, Appello Caesarem, 10, 41-2.
  • 39. Rous, Testis, 107; J. Palmer, Truro in Seventeenth Cent. 12; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413.
  • 40. C. Russell, PEP, 276-8; Procs. 1626 ii. 32, 44, 238; iii. 180, 190, 444; K. Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, 741.
  • 41. Rous, Treatises, 266; Procs. 1626, ii. 195, 206, 339; iii. 98, 340, 404-5.
  • 42. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, pp. 64-5; Rous Diary ed. M.A.E. Green (Cam. Soc. lxvi), 5. This Rous was no relation of the MP.
  • 43. Rous, Treatises, 288, 293, 297, 299, 301, 315-7, 331; Montagu, Appello Caesarem, 88, 114, 321.
  • 44. CD 1628, ii. 323, 444; iii. 22, 44.
  • 45. CD 1628, iii. 112, 367, 369, 465, 593; iv. 60. A speech on clergy provision sometimes attributed to Rous was in fact made by Rudyard: LPL, ms 577, pp. 222-5; Lansd. 495, ff. 136-8v; CD 1628, iii. 17.
  • 46. CD 1628, iii. 261-2, 409-10, 492, 624; iv. 92; Harl. 161, ff. 170r-v; R. Manwaring, Religion and Allegiance (1627), 26-8, 31, 47; Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 159.
  • 47. CD 1628, iii. 514-5, 519, 521-2; SR, iv. 130.
  • 48. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 160; Russell, PEP, 343-5, 402-4.
  • 49. CD 1629, pp. 12-14.
  • 50. C. Thompson, ‘Divided Leadership’, in Faction and Parl. ed. K. Sharpe, 258, 262-3; CJ, i. 922b, 923b, 926b, 932b; CD 1629, p. 37.
  • 51. CD 1629, 121; CJ, i. 924b; Thompson, 269.
  • 52. Rous, Treatises, gen. introduction, 613, 621, 683, 686-7, 726; Boase and Courtney, ii. 597.
  • 53. Biographical Dict. of Brit. Radicals ed. R.L. Greaves and R. Zaller, iii. 115; C. Russell, Fall of British Monarchies, 522; R. Baillie, Letters and Jnls. ii. 30; Rous, Treatises, 675-6; G. Yule, Puritans in Politics, 118, 371-9; B. Worden, Rump Parl. 127.
  • 54. D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 166n. 69, 218n. 24, 263-4; Q. Skinner, ‘Conquest and Consent’, The Interregnum ed. G. Aylmer, 83-6; DNB; Woolrych, 296, 344; Lansd. 823, f. 179; Ath. Ox., iii. 104, 468; PROB 11/287, ff. 15-16.