He was a son of Mr. John Row minister at Perth, who gave him a very liberal education under his own eye. He was settled minister at Strathmiglo, in the shire of Fyfe, about the year 1600, and continued there for several years.
He was one of those ministers who refused to give public thanks for the king's deliverance from his danger in Gowrie's conspiracy, until the truth of that conspiracy was made to appear. This refusal brought upon him the king's displeasure; he was summoned to appear before the king and council at Stirling, soon after. On the day appointed for his compearance, two noblemen were sent, the one before the other, to meet him on the road, and, under the pretence of friendship, to inform him, that the council had a design upon his life, that he might be prevailed on to decline going up to the council; the first met him nigh his own house, the second a few miles from Stirling, but Mr. Row told them, that he would not, by disobedience to the summons, make himself justly liable to the pains of law, and proceeded to Stirling, to the amazement of the king and his court. When challenged for disbelieving the truth of that conspiracy, he told them, That one reason of his hesitation was, That one Henderson, who was said to have confessed that Gowrie hired him to kill the king, and to have been found armed in his majesty's chamber for that purpose, was, not only suffered to live, but rewarded; whereas, said he, |if I had seen the king's life in hazard, and not ventured my life to rescue him, I think, I deserved not to live.|
The two following anecdotes will show what an uncommon degree of courage and resolution he possessed.
Being at Edinburgh, before the assembly there, at which the king wanted to bring in some innovation, and meeting with Mr. James Melvil, who was sent for by the king, he accompanied him to Holyrood-house. While Mr. Melvil was with the king, Mr. Row stood behind a screen, and not getting an opportunity to go out with his brother undiscovered, he overheard the king say to some of his courtiers, |This is a good simple man, I have stroked cream on his mouth, and he will procure me a good number of voters, I warrant you.| This said, Mr. Row got off, and overtaking Mr. Melvil, asked him, what had passed? Mr. Melvil told him all, and said, The king is well disposed to the church, and intend to do her good by all his schemes. Mr. Row replied, The king looks upon you as a fool and a knave, and wants to use you us a coy duck to draw in others, and told him what he had overheard. Mr. Melvil suspecting the truth of this report, Mr. Row offered to go with him, and avouch it to the king's face; accordingly, they went back to the palace, when Mr. Melvil seeing Mr. Row as forward to go in as he was, believed his report and stopped him: And next day, when the assembly proceeded to voting, Mr. Melvil having voted against what the king proponed, his majesty would not believe that such was his vote, till he, being asked again, did repeat it.
Again, he being to open the synod of Perth, anno 1607, to which King James sent Lord Scoon captain of his guards, to force them to accept a constant moderator, Scoon sent notice to Mr. Row, That if, in his preaching, he uttered ought against constant moderators, he should cause ten or twelve of his guards discharge their culverins at his nose; and when he attended the sermon which preceded that synod, he stood up in a menacing posture to outbrave the preacher. But Mr. Row no way dismayed, knowing what vices Scoon was chargeable with, particularly that he was a great belly-god, drew his picture so like the life, and condemned what was culpable in it with so much severity, that Scoon thought fit to sit down, and even to cover his face. After which Mr. Row proceeded to prove that no constant moderator ought to be suffered in the church, but knowing that Scoon understood neither Latin nor Greek, he wisely avoided naming the constant moderator in English, but always gave the Greek or Latin name for it. Sermon being ended, Scoon said to some of the nobles attending him, You see I have scared the preacher from meddling with the constant moderator, but I wonder who he spoke so much against by the name of praestes ad vitam. They told him, That it was in Greek and Latin the constant moderator; which so incensed him, that when Mr. Row proceeded to constitute the synod in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Scoon said, The devil a Jesus is here, and when Mr. Row called over the roll to choose their moderator after the ancient form, Scoon would have pulled it from him; but he, being a strong man, held off Scoon with the one hand, and holding the synod-roll in the other, called out the names of the members.
After this, Mr. Row was put to the horn, and on the 11th of June following, he and Mr. Henry Livingstone the moderator were summoned before the council, to answer for their proceedings at the synod above-mentioned. Mr. Livingston compeared, and with great difficulty obtained the favour to be warded in his own parish; but Mr. Row being advised not to compear unless the council would relax him from the horning, and make him free of the Scoon-comptrollers, who had letters of caption to apprehend him, and to commit him to Blackness. This was refused, and a search made for him, which obliged him to abscond and lurk among his friends for a considerable time.
He was subjected to several other hardships during the remainder of his life, but still maintained that steady faithfulness and courage in the discharge of his duty, which is exemplified in the above instances, until the day of his death, of which we have no certain account.