Francis Rous 1580/1-1659

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Francis ROUS 1580/1-1659

Biographical Note

Born at Dittisham, Devon, son of Sir Anthony Rous of Halton, Cornwall. BA Broadgates Hall, Oxford 1597; entered the Middle Temple, 1601. During the 1620s he published a number of theological tracts which “combine vehement hostility to his enemies [Arminians and Roman Catholics] with a desire for a mystical union of all souls with God” (ODNB). MP for Truro 1626, Tregony 1628-9, where he pursued his agenda for ecclesiastical reform. In 1640 he was active in the impeachment of John Cosin, and in 1643 he subscribed to the solemn league and covenant. Appointed a lay assessor of the Westminster Assembly, 1643, and oversaw a version of the Psalms adopted by Parliament for general use; Provost of Eton, 1644. Elected Speaker of Barebone’s Parliament, 1653; he subsequently participated in its dissolution, and the establishment of the Protectorate. He was a member of Cromwell’s Privy Council, and summoned to the 1657 House of Lords. His collected works, Treatises and meditations dedicated to the saints, appeared in 1657.


A collection of nine volumes of early Civil War tracts, dating from 1636-43 and containing ca.830 items, is thought to have been his. Otherwise, we have no knowledge of the extent of his library. His will makes provision for £5 per annum to be given, in perpetuity, for buying Bibles and catechisms for poor children in his native parish of Dittisham, to encourage them to learn to read.