LOWE, George (c.1600-82), of Calne, Wilts. and Pennyfarthing Street, Oxford.
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Family and Education
b. c.1600, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Richard Lowe†, barrister, (d.1624), of Shrewsbury, Salop and Calne by 2nd w. Mary, da. and coh. of Charles Wotton, merchant, of Salisbury, Wilts., wid. of John Vennard of Salisbury. m. (1) 1s. d.v.p.; (2) c.1651, Jane (d. 9 Sept. 1655), da. of Martin Wright, goldsmith, of Oxford, wid. of Acton Drake of Shorthampton Lodge, Charlbury, Oxon., 1s. d.v.p. suc. mother in Calne property 1640.1
J.p. Oxon. 1646-53, Wilts. July 1660-c.63; commr. for assessment, Oxon. 1649-52, Wilts. Aug. 1660-3, 1673-80, Oxford 1661-79, Salisbury 1673-4, corporations, Wilts. 1662-3; bailiff, Oxford 1665, assistant 1666-d., commr. for recusants, Wilts. 1675.2
Clerk of petty bag 1666-80.3
Lowe’s father, of Shropshire origin, acquired an interest at Calne through his second wife and represented the borough in the Addled Parliament. His uncle and godfather, a prominent London merchant, also sat for the borough in the first three Parliaments of Charles I, and it may have been from him that Lowe derived the funds which enabled him to buy out his half-brother’s interest in the lease of the prebendal manor before his father’s death. Later he joined with his mother in renewing the lease on the eve of the Civil War at the cost of £4,000. In her will she required her other children to renounce their claims to the Calne property in his favour, and bequeathed £100 to the poor of the borough. It is therefore hardly surprising that he was elected to the Long Parliament a few months later. Lowe’s brother married the sister of Sir Edward Hyde, and during the Civil War he himself sat at Oxford, though he alleged that he acted under constraint, having visited the King’s quarters on business as a trustee and left before the vote declaring the Members at Westminster to be traitors. He surrendered to Edward Massey two months later, but according to the officer who took him into custody he was so popular in Calne that four or five hundred of his neighbours would have rescued him if he had given the word. His voluntary and early submission earned him leniency from the committee for compounding; he was fined at a tenth instead of a third, and on his release he became a j.p. for Oxfordshire, though how he formed a connexion with that county has not been ascertained. His second wife, whom he married some years later, was widow of the steward of the Danvers estates, which lay principally in Wiltshire; but the head of the family, the Earl of Danby of the first creation, lived near Oxford, and this may have been the link.4
Lowe regained his seat at the general election of 1661, though his lease was about to expire. On 17 July he complained to the House that the treasurer of Salisbury refused to renew it, although he had been a great sufferer for the royalist cause, and had spent ‘for preservation of his estate and in improvement and otherwise above £4,000’. Giles Hungerford, John Ernle and Jeffrey Daniel were ordered to mediate between Lowe and the treasurer, but the result of their mission is not known. Lowe was not an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being named to only 26 committees, the most important being to consider the bill for the execution of those under attainder in 1661 and to hear the petition of the loyal and indigent officers in 1663. He occupied himself principally with the municipal affairs of Oxford, in which his brother-in-law William Wright exercised great influence, and in 1668 he was voted the thanks of the corporation ‘for his constant help to the mayor and his brethren in the negotiations between the university and the city now happily finished’. Sir Thomas Osborne included him in 1669 as one of the Members who might be engaged for the Court by the Duke of York and his friends; but his support was probably lost by the Stop of the Exchequer. He had £2,900 on deposit with the London bankers at the time, little or none of which had been recovered when he drew up his will nine years later. Nevertheless, he received the government whip for the autumn session of 1675, although he is not known to have attended either then or later. Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’ in 1677, but also numbered him among the court stalwarts. He is unlikely to have stood again, dying on 19 Nov. 1682, ‘aged 88’. On his memorial in St. Aldates, Oxford, it is said that
he exerted himself for forty years, more or less, in the illustrious court of senators (commonly called Parliament) no less to the approbation of individuals than to the advantage of the public.