Rowe, Thomas (DNB00)

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ROWE, THOMAS (1657–1705), independent divine and tutor, elder son of John Rowe (1626–1677) [q. v.], was born in London in 1657. He was probably educated, with his brother Benoni, by Theophilus Gale [q. v.] In 1678 he succeeded Gale, both as pastor of the independent church in Holborn and as tutor in the academy at Newington Green. He removed his congregation to a meeting-house at Girdlers' Hall, Basinghall Street, and took his academy successively to Clapham and, about 1687, to Little Britain. His ministry was successful; but it was as a tutor, especially in philosophy, that he made his mark. He was the first to desert the traditional textbooks, introducing his pupils, about 1680, to what was known as ‘free philosophy.’ Rowe was a Cartesian at a time when the Aristotelian philosophy was dominant in the older schools of learning; but while in physics he adhered to Descartes against the rising influence of Newton, in mental science he became one of the earliest exponents of Locke. The imperfect list of his students (none from the presbyterian fund) includes an unusual number of distinguished names; John Evans, D.D. [q. v.], Henry Grove [q. v.], Josiah Hort [q. v.], archbishop of Tuam, John Hughes (1677–1720) [q. v.], the poet, Jeremiah Hunt, D.D. [q. v.], Daniel Neal [q. v.], and Isaac Watts, who has celebrated in an ode his ‘gentle influence,’ which

        bids our thoughts like rivers flow
And choose the channels where they run.

Rowe was a Calvinist in theology, but few of his pupils adhered to this system without some modification. In 1699 he became one of the Tuesday lecturers at Pinners' Hall. He died suddenly on 18 Aug. 1705, and was buried with his father in Bunhill Fields.

Benoni Rowe (1658–1706), the younger brother, was born in London, and educated for the ministry. His first known settlement was at Epsom, Surrey, about 1689. He succeeded Stephen Lobb [q. v.] in 1699 as pastor of the independent church in Fetter Lane, and was a solid but not a popular preacher. He died on 30 March 1706, and was buried with his father in Bunhill Fields. He left two sons—Thomas (1687–1715), husband of Elizabeth Rowe [q. v.], and Theophilus.

[Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808 ii. 253, 1810 iii. 168 sq., 449 sq.; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, p. 245; Waddington's Surrey Congregational History, 1866, p. 202.]

A. G.