ROUS, Anthony (1576-1632), of Fetcham, Surr.
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Family and Education
?Servant of 2nd earl of Essex by 1601.4
Rous belonged to a junior branch of the Cornish family which supplied four Members during this period. Like his uncle, Sir Anthony Rous*, he grew up in Sussex, where his father was a minor landowner. However, as the younger son of a younger son, he could not expect a substantial inheritance, and therefore sought his fortune in London. He may have been the man of this name who was a page to the earl of Essex at the time of the abortive 1601 rebellion.9 Rous was presumably living in Surrey by 1603, when he was commissioned by the Exchequer Court to inquire into tenures within the Crown’s manor of Chertsey Beamond. One of his fellow commissioners was Sir Arthur Mainwaring*, who perhaps provided his introduction to the Surrey-based kinship network which habitually held the clerkship of the pipe in the early seventeenth century. Mainwaring followed his cousin Sir Francis Wolley† in this post in 1610, and six years later sold it to Rous and Wolley’s brother-in-law (Sir) Henry Croke*.10 Having spent a large sum acquiring their new role, the joint clerks were naturally keen to recover their outlay, but with their formal fees set at just £10 p.a., and the pipe office’s profits in decline through the sale of Crown lands, they faced an uphill struggle.11 Ironically, their cause benefited from the reforming zeal of Edmund Sawyer*, a clerk in the revenue auditor’s office, who complained at about this time that inefficiency and abuses in the running of the pipe office were damaging royal revenues. Rous and Croke responded in 1617 by placing the blame on their subordinates, and although this provoked protests that they were merely trying to cover up their own conduct, they persuaded the Exchequer barons in November 1617 to strengthen the clerks’ personal authority.12 The way was now clear for them to start milking their office. Within six years, certain sheriffs were having to pay £16 or £18 to clear their accounts, instead of the traditional fee of £1 3s. 4d. Some other minor charges increased five- or six-fold, and by 1623 the clerks’ annual income had allegedly risen from £300 to at least £2,000. Rous protected himself by bribing influential courtiers, and, as one contemporary critic observed, kept the Exchequer barons happy by using his ‘pragmatic skill’ to generate extra business for their Court, thereby enhancing their own profits. This policy proved so successful that Rous and Croke emerged unscathed from both the 1621 Parliament’s inquiry into Exchequer charges and the Crown’s commission on exacted fees in 1623.13
In 1622 Rous contributed £13 6s. 8d. to the Benevolence for the recovery of the Palatinate, and began to participate in Surrey’s local government. However, he earned a summons before the Privy Council four years later by defaulting in the county’s musters.14 How Rous came to represent Wootton Bassett in the 1628 Parliament is unclear, though as Croke was also back at Westminster for the first time since 1614 this suggests that they anticipated a further attack on their conduct, which, in the event, failed to materialize. On 13 June, during the debate on the general pardon bill, Rous was requested to inform the Commons about the issuing of commissions for recovering old debts, but he failed to report back before the end of the session. Sir Edmund Sawyer attempted to stir up trouble for the pipe office clerks during the same debate, but Rous let Croke answer on his behalf, and they had the satisfaction of seeing Sawyer expelled from the House a week later for attempting to cover up his own involvement in the new Book of Rates. The ‘Mr. Rous’ appointed on 24 May to help draft a petition to the king about the spiriting abroad of a young Catholic convert was almost certainly Rous’s cousin Francis, notwithstanding the pipe office’s responsibility for compiling the recusancy rolls. In the 1629 session, his official role brought him a nomination on 14 Feb. to the committee to consider the Exchequer barons’ refusal to release John Rolle’s* confiscated merchandise.15
The profits of office enabled Rous in 1630 to purchase Polesden manor, close to his home at Fetcham. He made his will on 1 May 1629, providing portions totalling £700 for his two daughters, and died in January 1632. He was buried in Fetcham church, where a marble epitaph was erected in his memory.16
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. IGI Suss.
- 2. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 195; PROB 11/161, f. 160v; PROB 6/1, f. 33.
- 3. O. Manning and W. Bray, Hist. and Antiqs. of Surr. i. 484.
- 4. APC, 1600-1, p. 163.
- 5. LR1/236, f. 29.
- 6. C66/2096/2; E403/1745.
- 7. C212/22/21, 23.
- 8. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 136.
- 9. Vis. Cornw. 195; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 548; APC, 1600-1, p. 163. Al. Ox. confuses Rous with a namesake who entered Broadgates Hall, Oxf. in 1603.
- 10. Manning and Bray, iii. 221; Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 65-6; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 644.
- 11. Bodl. Tanner 101, f. 9; E369/118, f. 97; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 433.
- 12. SP14/88/34, 36-7; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 486, 507; Bodl. Tanner 101, f. 19.
- 13. Bodl. Tanner 101, ff. 6v-7, 8v-9; G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 190.
- 14. SP14/156/15; APC, 1626, pp. 172, 182.
- 15. CD 1628, iii. 593; iv. 294, 298, 404; CJ, i. 930a.
- 16. Manning and Bray, i. 484; ii. 689; PROB 11/161, f. 160v.