E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Gown and town row. A scrimmage between the students of different colleges, on one side, and the townsmen, on the other. These feuds go back to the reign of King John, when 3,000 students left Oxford for Reading, owing to a quarrel with the men of the town. What little now remains of this ancient tenure is confined, as far as the town is concerned, to the bargees and their tails.