ROWE, Anthony (aft.1641-1704), of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1689 - 1690
5 Mar. - 12 Nov. 1690
20 Nov. - 20 Dec. 1693
16 Jan. - 20 Mar. 1701

Family and Education

b. aft. 1641, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Rowe† of Muswell Hill, Mdx. and Swarford, Oxon. by Anne, da. of Anthony Langton of Littleton, Worcs.  m. bef. 1696, Mary, da. of Maj. Robert Manley of London, 3da.1

Offices Held

Adj. and gent. of horse to Duke of Monmouth by 1678–85.2

Farmer of hearth tax 1679–84; purveyor and granitor to stables at St. James’s 1684–?5, 1689–94; avenor and clerk martial 1689–94; second clerk comptroller of board of green cloth 1693–1702; clerk of Bd. of Green Cloth 1702–d.; pond and fowl keeper of St. James’s Park 1700–d.; ranger, Hyde Park 1702–3.3

Asst. Miners Adventurers’ Co. 1693.4


Rowe, an active supporter of William of Orange in 1688, had sat in the Convention as a Whig. He was rewarded with a number of minor appointments in the royal stables and the forage contract for the army in Ireland in 1690. In the general election of that year he successfully contested Mitchell, after which he was listed incorrectly as a Tory by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). On 17 Apr. he acted as a teller in favour of allowing the sheriffs of London to present a petition. On the 23rd it was ordered in the House that Rowe attend in his place the next day, to answer to an information that he had ‘dispersed a printed paper, reflecting upon some of the Members of the last Parliament’. However, he did not attend the next day, and the serjeant-at-arms was ordered to give him notice to attend. However, on the 30th he was once again ordered to be present, this time on 2 May. When Rowe attended on the 2nd, Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., acquainted the House that Rowe had dispersed a printed paper entitled A Letter to a Friend upon the Dissolution of the late Parliament . . . together with a List of those that were against making the Prince and Princess of Orange King and Queen. The publication of this paper had been part of the Whig propaganda effort during the recent election campaign. A debate in the House followed, during which an attempt to adjourn was defeated by 180 votes to 156, and eventually it was resolved ‘that the said paper is a false and scandalous libel, reflecting upon their Majesties, and their government, and the rights and privileges of Parliament’. Rowe was unseated in the following session, on 12 Nov., on the grounds of bribery by himself and his agents during the 1690 election. Undeterred, Rowe contested two by-elections at Stockbridge in the following years. He failed in the first on 4 May 1691 but eventually succeeded at the second in November 1693, only to have the election declared void on 20 Dec. The following year he exchanged his appointment as avenor in the King’s stables, which carried a salary of £260 p.a., for a clerkship at the Board of Green Cloth worth about £1,000 p.a.5

Rowe contested Mitchell in 1695 and was involved in a double return. On 14 Dec. the House seated his opponents, Humphrey Courtney and Thomas Vivian. He petitioned on 22 Oct 1696, though the House eventually found in favour of Courtney’s return in a division on 4 Feb. 1697, despite the fact that Courtney had died before that time. Rowe was also defeated at the by-election in March necessitated by Courtney’s death, and failed again to win one of the borough’s seats at the general election of 1698. In 1699 he became involved in a long court case with Lady Wood, a creditor of one of his partners in a farm of the hearth tax during the reign of Charles II. Although Lady Wood had obtained one decision in her favour in the Exchequer, Rowe appealed and the case and the accounts were still unsettled at the time of his death. In November of that year he and a friend travelling from Hampton Court ‘were robbed by seven or eight footpads of all their money, watches, snuff boxes etc.; they broke Mr Rowe’s head for speaking hastily to them and threatened to kill him’.6

Rowe made his last attempt to be elected to Parliament at the first election in 1701 when he successfully contested Mitchell only to be unseated on petition a few weeks later. Commenting on his lack of success, the anonymous author of The Prophecy wrote:

          When Church to charity is given
          That is, when Numbers odd are even,
          Or Rowe’s in Chapel of St. Stephen.

In the pamphlet The Old and Modern Whig Truly Represented (1702) it was said to be his misfortune,

not to bribe the right electors, or the majority, and so was always put to petitioning: or if he got in, for his reputation and integrity of downright bribery was always turned out: so that even the disfranchised borough of Stockbridge was his last refuge, and both he and his borough made martyrs together.

In fact the bill to disfranchise Stockbridge in 1693 had not been passed.7

In 1702 Rowe had bought the office of ranger of Hyde Park, which he sold the following year to Lord Conway (Francis Seymour Conway*). It was reported in April 1704 that he had been removed from his office of clerk of the Green Cloth, though he appears to have retained the office until his death at the beginning of September that year. He was buried in Hackney. He left his widow in ‘a very deplorable condition, being ruined by a long suit in the Exchequer carried on by the Lady Wood and others on your Majesty’s name for not passing the accounts of the late revenue of hearthmoney’. She petitioned the Treasury for assistance, but the case, heard on 14 Dec. 1705, was decided in favour of Lady Wood, although Rowe’s widow was granted £100 as royal bounty. It emerged after his death that he had never paid in the customs duties he had collected on William III’s behalf in 1688. Rowe had married one of his daughters to Edmund Denton* who owed him £6,000, cancelling the debt in lieu of a dowry.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 374; W. Robinson, Hackney, ii. 10–11, 374.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1678, p. 141.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1679–80, p. 250; 1702–3, p. 144; info. from Prof. R. O. Bucholz; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 1020, 1042; xviii. 40; xix. 353; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 144, 293.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1693, p. 207.
  • 5. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/053/1, James Vernon I* to Alexander Stanhope, 9 Jan. 1690, U1590/059/3, Robert Yard* to same, 8 May 1694; Chandler, ii. 379; Grey, x. 102, 108–9, 111–12; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 448–9, 456, 476, 488, 500, 510, 546; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 346; Huntington Lib. Ellesmere mss EL 8977, Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†) to Ld. Bridgwater (John Egerton†), 2 May 1694.
  • 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1967–8; xix. 7–8, 10, 63, 98, 254, 280, 429; xx. 44–46; xii. 174; xv. 27, 93, 124, 132, 215, 381; xvi. 19; Luttrell, iv. 581.
  • 7. Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, vi. 536–7.
  • 8. Luttrell, v. 144, 293, 462; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/7, James* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 22 Apr. 1704; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 2209, John Isham to Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, 17 Sept. 1704; Cal. Treas. Bks. xix. 63; xx. 44, 229; xxiv. 216; T29/15, pp. 27–30.