Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Rowe (c.1543–1598/9)

Mayor of Oxford 1587/8 and 1593/4

Thomas Rowe was the son of Nicholas Rowe, a husbandman of Hampton Gay.

On 25 March 1557 Thomas was apprenticed to the mercer Thomas Cogan for seven years, and at the end of this term was to receive double apparel and to serve an extra year, receiving 26s. 8d.

Thomas Rowe duly became an Oxford mercer and he took on fifteen apprentices between 1566 and 1591: Robert Dey of Warwickshire (21 December 1556); John Harries of Shropshire (18 May 1567); Matthew Harrison of Derbyshire (25 March 1572); John Holloway of Gosford (29 September 1574); Thomas Stone of Berkshire (26 May 1577); William Boswell of Rutland (7 June 1580); Richard Belcher of Berkshire (transferred 23 February 1582); William Williams of Berkshire (transferred 15 March 1585); Thomas Strawbridge of Bedfordshire (14 May 1581); Richard Humfrey of Witney (24 June 1584); Richard Allen of Stadhampton (24 June 1586); Arthur Osbaston of Gloucestershire (25 March 1588); Edward Tilliard of Oxford (29 September 1589); Henry Waddington of London (29 September 1590); and John Hall alias Collins (25 March 1591).

In 1568 Rowe paid 2s. 6d. in a levy for the lottery, and in 1572 he paid three shillings in St Martin’s parish as his share of a seasement.

Thomas Rowe had four children:

  • Nicholas Rowe (baptised on 22 May 1568 at St Martin's Church, with surname recorded as Roo)
  • Rebecca Rowe (baptised on 11 June 1569 at St Martin's Church)
  • Katherine Rowe (baptised on 27 February 1570/1 at St Martin's Church)
  • Edmund Rowe (baptised on 6 December 1573 at St Martin's Church).

Rowe first appears in the list of the Common Council on 29 September 1571, and in 1573 he was appointed one of the two Chamberlains. On 19 January 1575/6 he was one of the people appointed to look into the possibility of a school for freemen’s children:

Yt ys agreed att thys Counsell that Mr Mondaye, Mr Pycover, Mr Hanson, the two Chamberlens for the yeare, Mr Rowe, William Tyllyarde, and Rychard Bryan shall confere with Mr Case as towching the place for a schole, and the order and rate of teaching of ffremens chyldren, and to make reporte of theire doings and opynyon theirein att the next Counsell heare holden.

On 29 September 1577 Rowe was appointed one of the two Bailiffs. In the council year 1577/8 his apprentice Matthew Harrison was admitted free. This was followed by John Holloway in 1578/9, Thomas Stone in 1585, William Boswell in 1588, Thomas Strabridge in 1590, and Edward Tilliard in 1598.

On 11 April 1581 Rowe was chosen one of the Mayor’s Associates, and on 18 September 1587 was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1587/8). At the end of his term of office he was allowed to make Thomas Buckner of Boldshipton free for a gilt penny, as he would not be making his own sons free.

His daughter Katherine Rowe died at the age of 17 and was buried at St Martin’s Church on 20 February 1587/8. His other daughter Rebecca Rowe married John Hicks there on 7 February 1591/2.

On 1 September 1590 Rowe was granted a lease of a house in St Martin’s (on the site of the present 5 and 6 Queen Street).

Rowe was elected Mayor a second time on 17 September 1593 (for 1593/4). Celebrations were muted, however, because of the plague; it had been agreed at the previous council that:

Neither Mr Mayor electe at his comminge from London, nor Mr Bayliffs electe on Michaelmas daye shall make any dynner or banquett at their howses to cause any multytude together, by reason of the sicknes; and in consideration thereof Mr Mayor geveth thirtie shillings and Mr Bayliffs sixe shillings and eight pence apeece of their owne good wills towards the relief of those that are shutt uppe by reason of the sicknes.

Rowe was appointed an alderman after his year on office, and on 7 October 1594 was appointed Coroner.

On 5 September 1597 “Mris. Margaret, wife of Mr Alderman Rowe” was buried at St Martin’s Church.

† Alderman Thomas Rowe died in January 1598/9. In his will he requested that he should be buried in St Martin's Church, and this duly took place on 14 January 1598/9.

His son Edmund Rowe

An entry in the council records on 11 April 1599 reads:

It is agreed that Mr Edmund Rowe, second sonne of Mr alderman Rowe, in consideracion that his father made request unto the citie in his deathbed to be good unto his said sonne in graunting him to renewe the lease of the howse he holdeth of this citie, and for that the renewing of the same lease is in consideracion of all his paynes and other demaunds whatsoever heretofore, the said Edmund shall have his lease renwed for fortie and one yeres.

The lease of the property at 5 and 6 Queen Street was duly given to Edmund Rowe, gentleman on 18 May 1599: it was then in the occupation of Thomas Stone.

See also:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/93/174 (Will of Thomas Rowe, Alderman of Oxford, proved 23 February 1599)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 February, 2021

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