Select Rowe Miscellany

Here are some Rowe stories and accounts over the years:

Rowes in Cornwall

Rowe has been a very common surname in Devon and Cornwall.  The table following shows the top five surnames in Cornwall in the 1881 census.

1881 census

The Rowe Family Manuscript

William Rowe, born in 1660, lived at Boyejovan in the hundred of St. Just in Penwith and farmed at Lower Hendra and Drift in the parish of Sancreed.  Also known as Wella Rowe and Willow Kerewe, he was part of a group of language enthusiasts who were seeking to preserve the Cornish language.  Various chapters of the Bible translated by him into Cornish have survived.

These chapters, compiled from the original manuscript, were included by a descendant William Rowe of Torleven in his document, the Rowe Family Manuscript, written in 1830.  The
Rowe Family Manuscript was a family history of the Rowes up to that time.  

Reader Feedback - Rowes from Camborne in Cornwall

Rowe was the maiden name of my grandmother Annie Eunice Rowe who was born at Nanaimo in British Columbia in 1912.   Her father Philip Rowe was born in Camborne, Cornwall.  He left there in 1884 and, with at least one working stop in San Francisco, made his way to Vancouver Island.

Research on the Rowe family tree began in 1973.  Since 1984 it has been continued in close collaboration with Jeannette C. Merritt of Camborne.
We are still attempting to find what happened to one sibling in our ancestry, a John Rowe, christened on 11 August 1810 at Camborne, who witnessed his brotherís wedding in 1854 and is referenced in his motherís 1861 will, but otherwise cannot be found.

Our research includes details about several Rowe family branches researched as we were attempting to confirm our own ancestry. The link below - Thomas and Margaret (Bayley) Rowe - relates to our direct ancestry.

  • Descendants of John Rowe (1574-1664), Rector from 1617 to 1664 of Camborne Parish Church in Cornwall, and his wife Kathryn (died in 1679)
  • Descendants of John Rowe and Josuan Cater (died in 1671) who were married in 1636 at Camborne, Cornwall.
  • Descendants of Thomas Rowe (ca. 1680s-1754) and Margaret Bayley (ca. 1685-1752) who married in 1709 at Camborne, Cornwall
  • Descendants of Mahershalalhashbaz Rowe (1702-1777) and Margaret Bate who married in 1734 at Camborne, Cornwall, but also resided at Crowan.
  • Descendants of John Roo and UlaliaBlande of Werrington, Cornwall who married in 1597 at St. Stephen by Launceston and whose son Degory Rowe (dd. 1668) paid the rates on Tuckingmill, situated on the outskirts of Camborne. 
Walter Meyer zu Erpen (

John Rowe's Irritation with His Lot in Gloucester

John Rowe, upon arriving in Gloucester, took possession of several acres of land in the Farms section of East Gloucester now known as Good Harbor Beach.  The area, surrounded by a thick forest, was isolated and desolate.  John was not very happy with his lot and complained bitterly.  In April 1656 he was charged with profanity and presented to the Essex Quarterly Court, Massachusetts for punishment.

"John Rowe of Gloucester, being presented for saying if his wife were of his mind, he would set his house on fire and run away by the light and the devil should take the farms.  Speaking of the same a second time he added that he would live no longer among such a company of hell hounds.

Sentence of Court is that he shall pay a fine of 20s.  Also to make confession at the next town meeting in Gloucester of the words spoken by him.  If he refuses, he shall appear at the next Court in Salem and pay the 2s 6d fees of Court."    

He continued living in this remote area until "death relieved him from his earthly trouble" in 1662.

The Legend of Lazarus Rowe

Lazarus and Molly Rowe were married for 86 years, until Molly's death on June 20, 1829, in Limington, Maine, "in the 104th year of her age."  Her husband hung on for another few months, according to his obituary in the Connecticut Courant of September 29, 1829:

"Mr. Lazarus Rowe, aged 104 years!  Mr. Rowe was a native of Greenland, New Hampshire and was one of the first settlers of Baldwin, Maine where he lived till within about two years since.  His wife, Molly Rowe, who died last spring, was born the same year as her husband in 1725.  They were married at the age of 18 and consequently lived together eighty six years.

It is presumed that the United States do not contain another man and wife, who have lived so long in the conjugal state.  They reared a numerous family and saw their descendants into the fifth generation.  Their youngest son is now a pensioner of the Revolutionary War."
Their story is described in Mary Palmer's 1992 book The Legend of Lazarus Rowe.

Rowes in Newfoundland

The first appearance of the name Rowe occurs at Trinity in the mid-1700's.  A 1753 census listed Edward Rowe with a wife, four sons and two daughters. 

Of those sons, only James has left a reasonably traceable trail.  He fathered at least five sons who survived to maturity and had large families of their own.  In 1783 he is said to have relocated from Trinity to Heartís Content and founded a family ship-building enterprise that lasted nearly a hundred years.  Virtually all of the Trinity Bay (Greenís Harbour, Whiteway, Chance Cove) and Seldom Rowes trace their roots back to him.

The first Rowes:
- in Carbonear were a Benjamin, born in 1786, and a Henry, possibly brothers;
- in Bonavista/Catalina, a Henry of Bird Island Cove who married there in 1823;
- in Pointe Verde, a William, born in 1828;
- in Cupids, a William, born in 1808
- in Old Pelican, a William who baptized a son in 1826.

Any or all of these could have had a connection to the Rowes of Trinity and Heartís Content.

The Rowes of the Duchy Hotel in Princetown

In 2009, descendants of the Rowe family who used to own the Duchy Hotel in Princetown visited the village in Devon for a special reunion and to trace their family history.  Around 14 cousins and their partners came together from all over England, Spain and Australia for their first ever reunion.  Four of them had a common great-great grandparent - Sarah Elizabeth Rowe who had married George Moore in 1833.

James Rowe was born in Bere Ferrers.  At some point before he had married Elizabeth Colman, he moved to Princetown where he built a successful business.  He bought the Railway Inn in 1815 which the family continued to run until some point in the 1880s.  One of his sons, James Julian, bought the prison officersí quarters in Princetown and converted them into the Duchy Hotel (now the High Moorland Visitor Centre).  The hotel remained in the Rowe family well into the 20th century.

One funny story recollected during the reunion was of two ladies who had called in at the Duchy Hotel sometime in the 1860s.  They reported that they had been sold bad bread, stale cheese, and even worse beer, and that they had been served by a vile lady (which could have been James Julian's wife!).

Rowe Miners in Mexico

When the Cornish mining industry collapsed, Cornish miners, including Rowes, went far and wide in search of mining jobs.  Some ended up at the Pachuca mine in Mexico.  The following Rowes are to be found in the English cemetery there:

William Rowe of Camborne, aged 30
his father Edward Rowe, aged 57
Charles Rowe, aged 2, drowned
Joseph Rowe, aged 57
his wife Rosina Rowe, aged 62
Juan Hosking Rowe
Eduardo Rowe

Jennifer Rowe, an Australian Writer

Jennifer Rowe is an Australian writer of children's fiction and of crime and fantasy stories.  She has written:

"It's the Australian landscape and situation that has always been at the forefront of my mind.  Still, the fact that my family came from Cornwall has in fact affected my writing quite profoundly - in a more indirect way.  When I visited Cornwall in my twenties I had a powreful instant feeling of being at home - not in the towns, but in the countryside."

Rowe said that this experience gave her a strong belief that people and places have links, ties in the blood over generations, and that this idea has come out in particular in her fantasy books.

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