Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bowes, Robert (1535?-1597)
BOWES, ROBERT (1535?–1597), English ambassador to Scotland, fifth son of Richard Bowes and Elizabeth Aske [see Bowes, Elizabeth], married first Anne, daughter of Sir George Bowes of Dalden, and in 1566 Eleanor, daughter of Sir Richard Musgrave of Eden Hall. He served under his father in the defence of the borders. In 1569 he was sheriff of the county palatine of Durham, and helped his brother, Sir George Bowes [q. v.], to hold Barnard Castle against the rebel earls. Afterwards he was sent in command of a troop of horse to protect the west marches. In 1571 he was elected M.P. for Carlisle. In 1575 he was appointed treasurer of Berwick, and in this capacity had many dealings with the Scottish court. In 1577 he was appointed ambassador in Scotland, where he had a difficult task to perform. His object was to counteract the influence of France, retain a hold on James VI, keep together a party that was favourable to England, and promote disunion among the Scottish nobles. His letters to Burghley, Walsingham, and Leicester are of the greatest importance for a knowledge of Scottish affairs between 1577 and 1583. In 1578 he managed by his tact to compose a quarrel between Morton and the privy council which threatened to plunge Scotland into civil war (Bowes's Correspondence, 6, 11). In 1581 he was busily employed in endeavouring to counteract the growing influence of Esme Stewart, lord of Aubigné, over James VI. He witnessed the events which led to the raid of Ruthven and D'Aubigné's fall. He tried hard to gain possession of the casket letters, which after Morton's death were said to have come into the hands of the Earl of Gowrie, but his attempts failed. He was weary of his arduous task in Scotland, and managed to procure his recall in 1583. But he still held the post of treasurer of Berwick, and was often employed on diplomatic missions in Scotland, though the affairs were not afterwards of so much importance. Like his brother, Sir George, he worked for the penurious Elizabeth at his own cost, and was rewarded by no substantial tokens of the royal gratitude. He wrote in 1596: 'I shall either purchase my liberty, or at least lycence to come to my house for a tyme to put in order my broken estate before the end of my dayes.' This satisfaction was, however, denied him. Elizabeth held him at his post, and he died in Berwick in 1597.
[The letters of Robert Bowes are published by Stevenson, 'The Correspondence of Robert Bowes, of Aske, Esquire' (Surtees Soc. 1842). For his life see Stevenson's Preface, and Sharp's Memorials of the Rebellion, p. 30.]