Row, John (1598?-1672?) (DNB00)

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ROW, JOHN (1598?–1672?), principal of King's College in the university of Aberdeen, the second son of John Row (1568–1646) [q. v.], minister of Carnock, Fifeshire, by Grisel, daughter of David Ferguson [q. v.], minister of Dunfermline, was born about 1598. He was educated at St. Leonard's College in the university of St. Andrews, where he took the degree of M.A. in 1617. Subsequently he acted as tutor of George Hay (afterwards second Earl of Kinnoull); and on 2 Nov. 1619, at the instance of the kirk session, confirmed by the town council, he was appointed master of the grammar school of Kirkcaldy. In June 1632, on the recommendation of the lord chancellor, he was appointed rector of the grammar school of Perth, at that time probably the most important scholastic appointment in the country, with which he had also hereditary associations.

Like his father and grandfather, Row was an accomplished Hebrew scholar; and in 1634 he published a Hebrew grammar, appended to which were commendatory Latin verses by Andrew Henderson, Samuel Rutherford, and other eminent divines. A second edition, together with a vocabulary, appeared at Glasgow in 1644. He held the rectorship of Perth academy until 1641, when, at the instance of Andrew Cant [q. v.], one of the ministers of Aberdeen, he was on 16 Nov. elected minister of St. Nicholas Church in that city, his admission taking place on 14 Dec. On 23 Nov. 1642 he was also appointed by the magistrates of Aberdeen to give weekly lessons in Hebrew in Marischal College; and in 1643 he published a Hebrew lexicon, which he dedicated to the town council, receiving from them ‘for his services four hundred merks Scots money.’ Row proved to be a zealous co-operator with Cant in exercising a rigid ecclesiastical rule over the citizens (Spalding, Memorialls, passim); and showed special zeal in requiring subscription to the solemn league and covenant (ib. ii. 288–9). On the approach of Montrose to Aberdeen in the spring of 1646, both he and Cant fled south and took refuge in the castle of Dunottar (Patrick Gordan, Britanes Distemper, p. 112; Spalding, Memorialls, p. 459), but returning at the end of March, after Montrose's departure, they denounced him in their pulpits with unbridled vehemence (ib. p. 464). On the approach of Montrose in the beginning of May they again fled (ib. p. 469), but when Montrose had passed beyond Aberdeen they returned, and on the 10th warned the inhabitants to go to the support of General Baillie.

By the assembly of 1647 Row was appointed to revise a new metrical version of the Psalms, from the 90th to the 120th Psalm. In 1648 he was named one of a committee to revise the proceedings of the last commission of the assembly, and on 23 July 1649 one of a commission for visiting the university of Aberdeen. He was one of the six ministers appointed to assist the committee of despatches in drawing up instructions to the commissioners sent to London to protest against the hasty proceedings taken against the life of Charles I (Sir James Balfour, Annals, iii. 385). Shortly afterwards he separated from the kirk of Scotland, and became minister of an independent church in Edinburgh.

It was probably his independent principles that commended Row to the notice of Cromwell's parliament, by whom he was in 1652 appointed principal of King's College, Aberdeen. It was during his term of office that the college was rebuilt, and for this purpose he set apart yearly a hundred merks, contributing in all two hundred and fifty merks (Fasti Aber. p. 532). Notwithstanding his previous zeal as a covenanter, and the fact also that he had been specially indebted to Cromwell, Row at the Restoration endeavoured to secure the favour of the new authorities by the publication of a poetical address to the king in Latin entitled Eucharistia basilikē, in which he referred to Cromwell as a ‘cruel vile worm.’ But this late repentance proved of no avail. In 1661 he was deposed from the principalship of King's College, and various writings which he had penned against the king were taken from the college to the cross of Aberdeen, where they were burned by the common hangman. Having saved no money while he held the principalship, Row now found himself in his old age compelled to maintain himself by keeping a school in New Aberdeen, some of his old friends also contributing to his necessities by private donations. Latterly he retired to the house of his son-in-law, John Mercer, minister of Kinellar, where he died about 1672. He was buried in the churchyard of Kinellar. Besides other children, he had a son John Row, minister first at Stronachar in Galloway, and afterwards at Dalgetty in Fife.

Row wrote a continuation of his father's history, which is included in the edition of that history published by the Wodrow Society and the Maitland Club in 1842. It is quaintly entitled ‘Supplement to the Historie of the Kirk of Scotland, from August Anno 1637, and thence forward to July 1639; or ane Handfull of Goate's Haire for the furthering of the building of the Tabernacle; a Short Table of Principall Things for the proving of the most excellent Historie of this late Blessed Work of Reformation.’

[Spalding's Memorialls of the Trubles, and Fasti Aberdonenses (Spalding Club); Robert Baillie's Letters and Journals (Bannatyne Club); Sir James Balfour's Annals; Memorials of the Family of Row, 1827; Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scoticanæ, iii. 471.]

T. F. H.