PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
With their inscription and Masonic imagery, the fire buckets were likely originally the property of John Rowe (1715-1787), the wealthy merchant, conservative Whig and diarist of Boston. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and became a Grand Master of the order in 1768. While this chest could also have been his property, it could have also been originally owned by John (Jack) Rowe (1765-1812), the nephew and namesake of John Rowe who was adopted by John and his wife Hannah (1725-1805) at age 7. Young John was the son of Jacob Rowe, John Rowe’s brother, who emigrated to Quebec, Canada around 1741. Young John graduated from Harvard in 1783 and was a classmate of Harrison Gray Otis and William Prescott. He married in Gloucester in 1792 and represented the town in the House of Representatives from 1796 to 1805. In 1806, he represented Essex County in the Senate. He later lived in Quincy, where he died in 1812.
After the elder John’s death in 1787 and his wife’s death in 1805, Jack Rowe and his family inherited some of their belongings including John Rowe’s diary and a Boston bombe slant front desk that descended through the Jack Rowe branch of the family before being sold at auction in 2004. It later sold in these rooms, Important Americana, January 19, 20, & 21, 2007, lot 363.
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