James Rowe of Great Torrington

1711 - 1785


Devonshire slave-owner. Likely the son of William Rowe of Southfields Plantation, Jamaica, and Tavistock, Devon. The Rowe family had been in Jamaica since the early 1700s and became significant plantation owners. The 1754 Quit Rent Books in Jamaica show James Rowe as landholder of 2709 acres in St Elizabeth parish, along with a John James Rowe with 200 acres in the same parish and John Rowe in St Catharine Parish with 300 acres. He subsequently sold 180 acres of land in St Elizabeth to Jonathan James, a planter in the parish. Rowe married Mary Allan of Jamaica.

Rowe retired to England sometime during the mid-1750s upon inheriting the family property in Devon. He left his two sons as attorneys in charge of the plantations. He 1756 he purchased the estate of Alverdiscott, Devon, and in 1760 the manor of Alverdiscott and Advowson of the parish church. In the early 1780s, James Rowe leased his Jamaican plantations to John Pine, late of East Down but now of the parish of Holy Trinity, for a year, before placing them in trust for his heir William. Before inheriting William had to pay £500 to his father and £50 to each of his siblings. William Rowe died shortly after his father, also in 1785.

  1. Will of James Rowe of Great Torrington proved 07/09/1785. In the will he stated that he had previously conveyed his property in Jamaica and Devon to his son William Rowe, and spoke of 'the small pittance I have reserved' for his other children, share and share alike: he identifies those children as Rev. John Rowe, Judith and Mary. The latter 3 shared some of Rowe's property in Devon but not Alverdiscott, which went to William. The previous conveyance by James Rowe of his estates in Jamaica to his son William had been on condition of a payment to him [the testator] of £500 p.a. beginning in 1780, and in 1781 when the will was made James had received only part of the first payment, and left the unpaid balance to his other three children.

  2. Records at the Devon Archives and Local Studies Service (South West Heritage Trust) show the conveyance by James Rowe of Great Torrington of Bagdale and Fullerswood and his other property in Jamaica to his eldest son William in exchange for a payment of £500 p.a. to James Rowe and £50 p.a. to five of James Rowe's younger children identified as James Rowe the younger of St Elizabeth, John Rowe of Great Torrington clerk, Charles Rowe of St Elizabeth, Judith Rowe and Mary Rowe of Great Torrington, spinsters.


Much of this material comes from the extensive research carried out by Peter Murray and generously shared with the project. It offers a detailed family history based upon wide ranging archival research. 'A List of landholders in the Island of Jamaica together with the number of acres each person possessed taken from the quit rent books in the year 1754', TNA CO 142/31 transcribed at http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Samples2/1754lead.htm.

  1. PROB 11/1134/37.

  2. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/92ac6bc4-cd2b-439e-922e-3c1c3f79bf77 [accessed 27/06/2016], 3012Z/T/6.

We are grateful to Peter Murray for his assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Mary Allan of Jamaica
William; John; Judith; Mary; Charles; James; Peter?

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1752 [EA] - 1766 [LA] → Owner

Inferred to be the James Rowe of Torrington

Relationships (4)

Executor → Testator
Notes →
Hiern's executor was either James Rowe of Great Torrington or the latter's son Dr James...
Father → Son
Father → Son
Father → Son

Addresses (1)

Great Torrington, Devon, South-west England, England