Rous, Francis

Francis Rous

b. 1579, Dittisham (or Halton), Devonshire [1]
d. 7/17 Jan 1659, Acton, near London

Title: Speaker
Term: 5/15 Jul 1653 - 12/22 Dec 1653
Chronology: 5/15 Jul 1653, chosen to preside at an Assembly summoned by the Instrument of Supreme Authority issued by the Captain General and Commander-in-Chief, session of the Assembly, Council Chamber, Westminster [2]
  6/16 Jul 1653, the assembly resolved to assume the name of Parliament, session of the Assembly, Council Chamber, Westminster [3]
  7/17 Jul 1653, Parliament resolved to assume the name of Parliament of the Commonwealth of England; the title of Speaker confirmed [4]
  2/12 Aug 1653, left the seat of Speaker on assumption that his one-month term expired; called to the chair again at the same session of Parliament; one-month term extended by the Parliament 30 Aug/9 Sep 1653, 27 Sep/7 Oct 1653, 25 Oct/4 Nov 1653 [5][6]
  12/22 Dec 1653, Parliament resigned the powers in favour of Captain General and Commander-in-Chief [7]
Born in the family of Sir Anthony Rous (knighted in 1601), sheriff of Cornwall and Member of Parliament; matriculated from Broadgates Hall (afterwards Pembroke College), Oxford (1593) and graduated with bachelor's degree (1597); continued his education in the University of Leyden, graduating in 1599; entered the Middle Temple (1601), but soon retired to Landrake, Cornwall, and occupied himself with theological study; established himself as a prominent puritan writer; represented Truro (1625-1626) and Tregony (1628-1629) in the first and second Parliament of Charles I; was returned Member of Parliament for Truro in the Short (1640) and Long Parliaments (1640-1653); served as Lay Assessor at the Westminster Assembly of Divines (1643-1649) appointed by Parliament to restructure the Church of England; chaired the committee for ordination of ministers after its organization (1643-1644); was appointed provost of Eton College (1644-1659); went over to the Independents (1649) and served on the committee for the propagation of the Gospel, which framed an abortive scheme for a state church on the Congregational plan; in the Nominated (or Little or Barebones) Parliament of 1653, he sat for Devonshire and was elected its Speaker (5/15 Jul 1653 - 12/22 Dec 1653); after this body dissolved itself on 12 Dec 1653, he was sworn in on the Lord Protector's Council of State and placed on the committee for the approbation of public preachers (1653-1654); represented Truro in the First Protectorate Parliament (1654-1655) and Cornwall in the Second Protectorate Parliament (1656-1658); served on the committee of discussion of the kingship (1656); his work, Psalms Translated into English Metre (1641, 1646), was approved by the Westminster Assembly and authorised by Parliament for general use, and adopted by the Committee of Estates in Scotland.
Biographical sources: "The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons", by James Alexander Manning (London, 1850); "Dictionary of National Biography" (Smith, Elder, London, 1900); "The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge", Vol. X: Reutsch - Son (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1953, web site); "A Genealogy of the Rouses of Devon", by by John C. Street with the assistance of C. Douglas Peters (J.C. Street, 2002).

[1] "A Genealogy of the Rouses of Devon", op. cit., p. 79: {Footnote 16} "His will of 1658 refers to 'the parish of Dittisham in the County of Devon, the place of my nativity and baptism'. Boase [595] and Rose [1.l.392] repeat the erroneous statement of Wood [1817:3.466] that Francis was born at Halton. Dittisham was one of the manors that Sir Anthony had inherited from his uncle John, but this remark in Francis Rous's will is the sole indication that Anthony or his wife ever spent time at that particular manor."
[2] Commons Journal, 7:281: "Tuesday, the 5th of July, 1653 | Mr. Speaker. MR. Rous was called to the Chair."
[3] Commons Journal, 7:281-282: "Title of Address. The House took into Debate the Title wherein all Addresses shall be made to this House. The Question being put, That the Title of Parliament shall be given to this Assembly; The House was divided. The Yeas went forth. <...> So it was Resolved, That the Title of Parliament shall be given to this Assembly."
[4] Commons Journal, 7:282: "Title of the House. The House this Day resumed the Debate, what Addition shall be made to the Word "Parliament," in the Title of this House. Resolved, That these Words, "of the Commonwealth of England," be added to the Word "Parliament," in the Title of this House. | The Speaker. Resolved, That such Person, as shall be called to the Chair of the House, shall be Speaker; and have the Title of Speaker."
[5] Commons Journal, 7:294: "Tuesday, the Second of August, 1653 | Mr. Speaker. MR. Rous having continued Speaker by the Space of a Month, came this Day into the House, and took his Place as a Member; and thereupon was, by the general Voice of the House, called to the Chair, to be Speaker for One Month, from this Day: And did thereupon take the Chair accordingly."
[6] Commons Journal, 7:310, 7:325, 7:339.
[7] Commons Journal, 7:363: "Monday, the 12th of December, 1653. Parliament resign their Powers. | IT being moved in the House this Day, That the Sitting of this Parliament any longer, as now constituted, will not be for the Good of the Commonwealth; and that therefore it was requisite to deliver up unto the Lord General Cromwell the Powers which they received from him; and that Motion being seconded by several other Members; the House rose: And the Speaker, with many of the Members of the House, departed out of the House to Whitehall; where they, being the greater Number of the Members sitting in Parliament, did, by a Writing under their Hands, resign unto his Excellency their said Powers: And Mr. Speaker, attended with the Members, did present the same to his Excellency, accordingly."
Last updated on: 13 Mar 2010 01:47:01