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ROWE, JOHN (1764–1832), unitarian minister, sixth child of William Rowe of Spencecomb, near Crediton, Devonshire, was born on 17 April 1764. He was educated at Exeter under Joseph Bretland [q. v.]; at Hoxton Academy, and, after its dissolution, at the new college, ultimately fixed at Hackney, but then conducted (September 1786–June 1787) at Dr. Williams's Library, Red Cross Street, Cripplegate. He preached occasionally for his tutors, Andrew Kippis [q. v.], at Westminster, and Richard Price (1723–1791) [q. v.] at Hackney. On 14 Oct. 1787 he became colleague with Joseph Fownes (1714–1789) at High Street Chapel, Shrewsbury, and on Fownes's death (7 Nov. 1789) was elected sole pastor. His congregation built (1790) a new ‘parsonage-house’ for him; and at Michaelmas 1793 gave him an assistant, Arthur Aikin [q. v.], who left the ministry in June 1795. In January 1798 Coleridge preached some Sundays as candidate for the place of assistant, but withdrew in consequence of an offer of an income from Thomas Wedgewood (see letter of Coleridge, 19 Jan. 1798, in Christian Reformer, 1834, p. 838). Rowe left Shrewsbury in May 1798 to become colleague with John Prior Estlin [q. v.] at Lewin's Mead Chapel, Bristol. He was an impressive extempore preacher, and became a power in Bristol, both in charitable and in political movements. He was a founder of the Western Unitarian Society, which was established in 1792, on principles which many of his congregation thought too narrow. He held a doctrine of conditional immortality. In January 1831 he was seized with paralysis. He resigned his charge in 1832, and went to Italy. He died at Siena on 2 July 1832, and was buried in the protestant cemetery at Leghorn. In 1788 he married his cousin Mary (d. 1825), daughter of Richard Hall Clarke of Bridwell, Devonshire. His only son, John, died in Mexico on 17 Dec. 1827, aged twenty-nine. He published, besides sermons (1799–1816), ‘A Letter to Dr. Ryland, in refutation of a note contained in his Sermon, entitled “The First Lye refuted,”’ 1801, 8vo.

[Memoir (by Robert Aspland) in Christian Reformer, 1834, pp. 265 sq.; Murch's Hist. Presb. and Gen. Bapt. Churches in West of Engl. 1835, pp. 115 sq. 131 sq.; Astley's Hist. Presb. Meeting-House, Shrewsbury, 1847, pp. 21 sq.]

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