ROWNEY, Thomas (?1667-1727), of St. Giles's, Oxford.
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Family and Education
b. ?1667, 1st s. of Thomas Rowney, an Oxford attorney. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 15 May 1684, aged 16; I. Temple, called 1694. m. (lic. 27 May 1691) Elizabeth, da. of Edward Noel of St. Clement Danes, Mdx., 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1694.
Returned unopposed as a Tory for Oxford in 1715, Rowney voted against the Administration in all recorded divisions. During the riots at Oxford on George I’s birthday in 1716,
the major of the regiment ordered the soldiers to go round the town and break all the windows that were not illuminated ... Poor Tom Rowney’s windows were broke, and he himself upon his coming out was insulted by several soldiers who flourished their naked swords over him, but did not cut him.
It was said that if his
servants had not forced him into his house, he had certainly been murdered. Tom had been at the tavern that afternoon with his Corporation, which made him a little more brave [than] usual.
His name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising. He was asked to stand with his son in 1722, but declined, also refusing to stand for the county in 1727.1 On his death, 26 Aug. 1727, Hearne, the Oxford antiquary, wrote:
His distemper was an apoplexy, with which he was struck on Sunday last, as he was at dinner at the mayor of Oxford ... [He] was a very rich man, and some years ago did some service to the poor, when corn being at ten shillings or more a bushel, he sold great quantities to them for four or five shillings a bushel, which I have heard mentioned in his commendation. But as for other acts of charity, I know of none, on the contrary I have often heard him railed at for a stingy, close, miserly man. Yet ’tis certain that he was generally looked upon as an honest Tory, and when he was Member of Parliament, he constantly attended in the Parliament House, a thing which cannot be said of many other Tory Members.2
In his will he left £300 towards rebuilding the town hall, as ‘some acknowledgement for the trust reposed in me by the city of Oxford, though it was never any profit to me’.3 The town hall was completed by his son in 1751.