ROE, Thomas

ROE, Thomas. Low Leyton near Wanstead in Essex 1580/81 — Bath 6.11.1644. Sir. British Diplomat in India. Son of Sir Robert Rowe and Elinor Jermy, lost early his father. After early studies at Oxford (Magdalen College) he became esquire of the body to Queen Elizabeth I and was knighted by James I in 1604 (or 1605). In 1610-11 commanded an expedition to Guiana, South America. Already an experienced diplomat in 1614, when he was sent by James I to Surat, Ajmer and Ahmedabad to negotiate with Jahangir. Remained three years in Mughal court and succeeded in negotiating the trade agreement, although other aims remained unfulfilled. Returned in 1619 to England. Later he served as Ambassador in Constantinople (1621-28), Sweden (1629-30), Hamburg (1638-40) and Austria (1641-42). He was succesful in his negotiations and is praised as having exceptional economic insights. Also a long-time M.P. Retired 1643. Married with Eleanor Beeston (née Cave, d. 1675), no children.

Roe’s diary is an important source for Mughal history, but does not tell much of the life of people outside the royal palace. In education and skill he widely surpassed Hawkins and other agents of the E.I.C., but was and remained an aristocrat in his attitudes. Of Hindus he has very little to say.

Publications: Extracts of his diary publ. by Purchas in 1625, then by others (also in French and Dutch translations), the whole ed. by W. Foster: Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, as narrated in his journal and correspondence. L., Hakluyt Society 1899 (with introduction), rev. ed. 79+532 p. 1926.

Works on Osman empire and Sweden.

Sources: *M. J. Brown, Itinerant Ambassador: the Life of Sir Thomas Roe. Lexington 1970; S.L[ane]-P[oole], D.N.B. 49, 1897, 89-93; Oaten 1909, 147-154; Prasad 1980,128-163 (with portrait); *M. Stratchan, Sir Thomas Roe 1581–1644. A Life. Salisbury 1989; M. Strachan, Literature of Travel and Explor. 3, 2003, 1017-1019; Wikipedia with portrait and other pictures.

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