ROUS, Sir Anthony (c.1555-1620), of Halton, St. Dominick, Cornw.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1555,1 1st s. of Richard Rous of Rogate, Suss. and Eleanor, da. of Sir Edmund Marvyn of Petersfield, Hants, j.k.b.2 m. (1) by 1570,3 Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Southcote† of Bovey Tracey, Devon and coh. to her mo. Grace, 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.;4 (2) Philippa (d. c.1620),5 da. of Humphrey Colles of Barton, Pitminster, Som. and wid. of Alexander Pym† (d. 7 Jan. 1585) of Brymore, Som., 2da.;6 (3) settlement 18 Sept. 1620,7 Susan (d.1633), da. of Sir Lewis Pollard of King’s Nympton, Devon and wid. of John Copleston (d. 9 Nov. 1608) of Copleston, Devon, s.p.8 suc. uncle John Rous at Halton 1577,9 fa. 1587;10 kntd. 23 July 1603.11 d. 20 November 1620.12 sig. Antho[ny] Rous.

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. c.1583-d., Devon 1592-3,13 sheriff, Cornw. 1587-8, 1602-3,14 commr. survey, Crediton manor, Devon 1594,15 col. militia ft., Cornw. by 1599-d.;16 collector, tenths and fifteenths 1602, 1608;17 commr. piracy 1604, 1607-9,18 sewers 1605,19 inquiry, duchy of Cornw. lands, Devon and Cornw. 1607,20 subsidy, Cornw. 1608, 1612,21 inquiry, Sir Walter Ralegh’s† lands 1609,22 aid 1609;23 v.-warden of Cornish Stannaries by 1615-d.;24 commr. oyer and terminer, Western circ. 1617-d.,25 assessions, duchy of Cornw. 1617,26 dep. lt. Cornw. by 1618;27 bailiff, Trematon honour, Cornw. at d.28

Recorder, Launceston, Cornw. ?1611-d.29


Rous’s ancestors owned property in south Devon as early as the thirteenth century. His father, a younger son, settled in Sussex, where Rous grew up in a markedly puritan atmosphere. His prospects were transformed in 1572 when his childless uncle designated him as his heir, and five years later he inherited a very substantial estate in Devon and Cornwall, including the seat of Halton. In this ‘pleasant and commodious dwelling’ overlooking the Tamar, Rous delighted in ‘a kind and uninterrupted entertainment’ of his friends, who included Sir Francis Drake† and the antiquary Richard Carew†. Possessed of almost 10,000 acres by the end of his life, he was one of Cornwall’s richest residents, with a subsidy rating in 1604 of £35.30 Both a stalwart Protestant and a vigorous administrator, Rous was first returned to Parliament for East Looe in 1584. He shouldered the responsibilities of the shrievalty in the Armada year, while during his second term in this office he increased the financial pressure on Cornish recusants. Despite his obligation as sheriff to stay in his own county, he attended James I’s coronation, at which he was knighted. In the same year he presented the puritan Charles Fitz-Geffrey to the rectory of St. Dominick.31

Rous’s newly acquired prominence and general local standing suffice to explain his election as a knight of the shire in 1604. He was appointed on 26 Mar. to attend the conference on wardship, purveyance and other grievances, and two days later to accompany the Speaker to the king with the Commons’ explanation of their proceedings over the Buckinghamshire election. Nominated on 24 Mar. to the select committee to consider the continuance or repeal of statutes, he was also named to help scrutinize the bishop of Bristol’s published riposte to the Commons’ objections to the Union, and prepare for a conference about it (1 June).32 Rous received 13 legislative committee appointments during the first session, the topics including the preservation of fish fry, an issue of West Country concern, benefit of clergy, and dilapidations to episcopal properties (4, 14 and 19 May). He may have introduced the bill for the sale of some lands of Sir John Rous I*, since his name headed the committee list on 25 May. He was added on 13 June to the committee for the Tunnage and Poundage bill. Five days later he was ‘upon his own motion licensed to depart for a time’.33

Rous’s godly fervour was much to the fore in the 1605-6 session. He was named on 3 Feb. to attend the conference on recusancy laws, and of his four bill committee appointments two had religious themes, the public commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, and Sabbath observance (21 and 29 January). Predictably he was nominated to the committee for the new bill concerning the estates of the Suffolk Rouses (1 Feb.), and doubtless also followed the progress of the bill for sale of lands belonging to his late colleague Sir Jonathan Trelawny*, since he was named in it as a trustee. On 23 Mar. he was again given leave to depart ‘for very special occasions of his own private [affairs] and of the king’s service’, and on his return to Cornwall he brought his friend Richard Carew a message from Camden.34

The Trelawny estates Act proved defective, and a new bill involving the same trustees was passed during the 1606-7 session. Rous was nominated on 24 Nov. to attend a conference about the Union. The subjects of his six legislative committee appointments included free trade, ecclesiastical courts, and non-resident clergy (26 and 29 Nov., 4 March).35 In the fourth session he received four more bill committee nominations, and probably took an interest in those concerned with subscription to the Articles of religion, and wine imports, which were a mainstay of the Cornish economy (14 and 22 Mar. 1610). The first reading on 26 Mar. of the contentious bill to confirm John Arundell’s* inheritance of the Gwarnack estate prompted calls for the rival claimant to be heard, and it was noted that ‘Sir Anthony Rous hath notice and is gone to him’. He left no further trace on the records of this Parliament, and did not sit again.36

As vice-warden of the Stannaries, according to Fitz-Geffrey, Rous ‘often desired to have some divine a spectator and arbitrator of his proceedings ... to be present at the scanning and censuring of cases, desiring to decide all matters by the best rule of religion and conscience’. He apparently remained active well into old age, marrying for the third time only months before his death, which was reportedly hastened by a chill caught while attending a sermon.37 He drew up his will on 30 Oct. 1620, no doubt with the assistance of Fitz-Geffrey, who witnessed his signature. Unsurprisingly, he expressed himself confident of salvation. Rous left his coach and horses and an annuity of £500 to his widow, but made only token bequests to his children. He also provided £15 in total for setting the poor of St. Dominick and Modbury, Devon to work. His sons-in-law Humphrey Nicoll* and John Upton*, together with the Calvinist dean of Exeter, were named as the will’s overseers.38 He died three weeks later, and was buried at St. Dominick. In his funeral sermon Fitzgeffrey praised Rous for his charity, his integrity in public life, and his ‘careful and religious care for the education of his children’, who included his stepson John Pym* as well as his sons Ambrose* and Francis*. He was succeeded by his grandson William*.39

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Anne Duffin / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. R. Carew, Survey of Cornw. ed. F.E. Halliday, 55.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413.
  • 3. Date based on estimated birth-date of eldest s. Ambrose*.
  • 4. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413; Vivian, Vis. Devon , 698.
  • 5. C. Fitz-Geffrey, Death’s Sermon unto the Living (1620), p. 27.
  • 6. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 413; C142/187/61.
  • 7. WARD 7/58/188.
  • 8. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 225, 598.
  • 9. WARD 7/18/162.
  • 10. PROB 11/70, ff. 297v-8v.
  • 11. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 123.
  • 12. WARD 7/58/188.
  • 13. Lansd. 737, f. 133v; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 205; C66/2174.
  • 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
  • 15. C66/1441.
  • 16. Carew, 155; Cornw. RO, CY/7261.
  • 17. E401/2400-1, 2410-11.
  • 18. C181/1, f. 82v; 181/2, f. 56; HCA 14/39, no. 217; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 11.
  • 19. C181/1, f. 122v.
  • 20. C181/2, f. 34.
  • 21. SP14/31/1; E179/88/286.
  • 22. C181/2, f. 91.
  • 23. SP14/43/107.
  • 24. DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1615-19’, f. 9; C. Fitz-Geffrey, Elisha his Lamentation (1622), p. 44.
  • 25. C181/2, ff. 269-70; 181/3, f. 6.
  • 26. E306/4/4-5.
  • 27. Cornw. RO, DD.B.35/1.
  • 28. WARD 7/58/188.
  • 29. R. and O.B. Peter, Launceston and Dunheved, 400; Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 281.
  • 30. D. and S. Lysons, Devon, p. ccxii; PROB 11/70, ff. 297v-8v; WARD 7/18/162; 7/58/188; Carew, 55, 182; APC 1596-7, pp. 21-2; Cornw. RO, CY/7290.
  • 31. APC, 1590-1, pp. 82-3, 39-41; 1591-2, pp. 37-8; Fitz-Geffrey, Elisha his Lamentation, 39, 41; A.L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 377, 395; A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 48.
  • 32. CJ, i. 152b, 154b, 157a, 230a.
  • 33. Ibid. 198a, 209a, 214b, 225b, 238b, 241b.
  • 34. Ibid. 258b, 261b, 262b, 263a, 288b; HLRO, O.A. 3 Jac.I, c. 40; Carew, 63.
  • 35. HLRO, O.A. 4 Jac.I, c. 24; CJ, i. 324b-5a, 326b, 347b.
  • 36. CJ, i. 410b, 414a-b.
  • 37. Fitz-Geffrey, Elisha his Lamentation, 40, 44.
  • 38. PROB 11/137, f. 508r-v.
  • 39. WARD 7/58/188; Fitz-Geffrey, Elisha his Lamentation, 42-4.