It is unusual for a family who lived in 17th century Plymouth to have no modern genealogical write-up. The basis of most accounts of this family comes from an article in the Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder from 1893. The Barrows also appear in the Genealogical Register of Plymouth Families by William T. Davis from 1883. Neither of these 19th century sources get this family correct.
Robert Barrows first appears when he married Ruth Bonum at Plymouth on 28 November 1666 [Vital Records of Plymouth, Massachusetts to the year 1850 compiled by Lee D. van Antwerp, ed. Ruth Wilder Sherman (Picton Press, Camden, ME, 1993), p. 665, hereinafter Plymouth VRs]. At the same time John Barrows appear in Plymouth Court records being fined 10 shillings twice in March 1665/66 and 8 June 1666 [Records of Plymouth Colony, ed. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff (Baltimore, Md.: Gen. Publishing Co., 1857, rep. 1991, p. 115-16]. John Barrows died on 14 February 1691/92 [Plymouth VRs, p. 135]. He left a will naming his eldest son Robert, wife Deborah, son Joshua, sons Ebenezer and Benajah, and daughters Mary and Deborah. It is clear that the two men were father and son. From his marriage date, we can extrapolate the birth of Robert to be say 1641 (age 25 at marriage) and doing the same for John we come up with say 1616, making him about 75 at death.
The family gets mangled in print and now on countless Internet sites because John Barrows of Plymouth has been confused with another man of the same name. On 10 May 1637 a John Barowe of Yarmouth (England), Cooper, aged 28 years and Ann his wife were given permission to move to Salem, Mass. On 14 August 1637, John Barowe received five acres as an inhabitant of Salem. In November he received an additional 10 acres. In 1644 he was appointed surveyor of fences at Salem. That is the last record for this man. There are no records generated by this man from 1644 to 1666 (if you believe they are the same man). A 22 year gap just didn't happen in colonial New England. One great aspect of the Great Migration Project is that we can clearly say that when these immigrants came to New England they left a continuous paper trail, even when they moved from town to town. Gaps are 1-3 years at most. The man at Salem and his wife must die without any family connections left in Salem, and their land is redivided without any surviving documents. The Essex County and Salem records are full of people for this time period. This family is not in the Salem Vital Records, probate records (in print), land records (in print), or court records (in print).
On 1 9 mo. 1656, Phillip Cromwell sold land to Francis Skerry that is partly described as "one acre of it was Richard Leache Sr.'s and 1 1/2 acres that was John Leaches and 1/2 acre Robert Leaches situated between land of Robert Fuller and an acre of land of John Burrows on the West butting on the North River." [Essex County Deeds 1:81]. Later on 2 11 mo. 1664, Phillip sold more land this time to Stephen Haskett described in part as "bounded north with the highway that goes between the North river and said house and east with land of John Gedney and south with land that was one Burrows (a cooper) and later Benjamin Fermaies" [Essex County Deeds 2:289]. It seems from these two references that the cooper's land was given to Benjamin Fermayes or Vermayes who was admitted to the Salem Church on 6 March 1641/42. He moved to Plymouth and married Mercy Bradford, the daughter of Gov. William Bradford on 20 December 1648 at Plymouth [Plymouth VRs, p. 656]. He died in the West Indies and left no children. His probate papers mention this piece of land, but not how he acquired it. Whatever happened to John Barowe/Burrows seems to have happened between 1644 and 1648. The second deed certainly implies that he was dead.
Internet sites give a birth date for Robert Barrows with day, month and year in Salem that is simply not in the Salem Vital Records. The Yarmouth, England records, including giving the Salem John Barowe a wife Anne Thompson, may be correct for him, but have nothing to do with the Plymouth family. Adding to this confusion is there is yet another Burroughs/Burrows family in Salem, that produced the Rev. George Burroughs who would be a minister in Salem and hanged as a witch in 1692.
John and Robert Barrows were very likely late arrivals to Plymouth, possibly Puritan sympathizers who leave England after the Restoration of Charles II.