Richard Rowe (1797‒1878)

Richard Rowe was born on 25 December 1797 in St Botolph’s Lane, Cambridge. While Richard was still a boy, and after his mother had died, his father (also Richard, a botanist) was jailed for debt. Richard worked hard in raising the fee to release his father from the jail on Castle Hill. Being skilled in calligraphy and accountancy, he worked as private secretary to several senior members of the University, from whom he learned Latin and Greek. In March 1823 he was appointed one of the keepers of the University Library, a job he held until ill-health forced him to resign in 1840.

On 29 July 1823 he married Sarah Reynolds in her home town of Ludlow, Shropshire. The couple settled at 1 Brunswick Terrace, Cambridge, and had two children: Richard Reynolds Rowe (1824‒99) and William Rowe (1828‒59). They lived there for the rest of their lives with two servants. In 1840, he was appointed estate agent.  This position he retained until early 1859, resigning it in favour of his younger son William. However, William died within three months of taking up the position, and Richard resumed it, but resigned for a second time later that year. His entries in census reports record his various employments: 1841 and 1851 “butler”, 1861 “proprietor of houses & land”, 1871 “retired accountant”. He was allegedly an accomplished bell-ringer, and is reported to have been also a fine violinist, playing in many concerts with the celebrated Robert Venua.

He was for many years Churchwarden of St Andrew the Less (on Newmarket Road, now known as the Abbey Church), and in that capacity raised funds for the erection of Christ Church (on Maids’ Causeway), completed in 1839. He was also treasurer of the building fund for St Matthew’s Church (designed by his elder son Richard Reynolds). In 1849 he was returned as Councillor for the St Andrew’s ward, and re-elected continuously until voted Alderman of the City of Cambridge in 1868. In 1861 his wife Sarah died. In 1877 he was appointed Deputy Mayor. He died on 10 December 1878, and was buried in Mill Road Cemetery.

Rowe family inscription



Parish : St Andrew the Less

See family grave page for more information








census reports 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871

Births, Deaths and Marriages

Richard Reynolds Rowe, “Memoir of the Late Mr. Alderman Rowe of Cambridge by his Son”, Cambridge Chronicle, 21 Dec 1878

By Ian Bent, with Mary Naylor and Robin Mansfield


Richard Rowe