LOWTHER, Sir John I, 1st Bt. (1606-75), of Lowther Hall, Westmld.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Feb. 1606, 1st s. of Sir John Lowther† of Lowther Hall by Eleanor, da. of William Fleming of Rydal; bro. of William Lowther. educ. I. Temple of 1621, called 1630. m. (1) by 1628, Mary, da. of Sir Richard Fletcher of Hutton, Cumb., 52. 6da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Hare† of Stow Bardolph, Norf., wid. of Woolley Leigh of Addington, Surr., 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1637; cr. Bt. c.1638.1
Recorder, Kendal 1636-48; j.p. Westmld. by 1641-?48, by 1655-6, Cumb. Westmld. and Yorks. (N. Riding) July 1660-d., commr. of array, Cumb. and Westmld. 1642, oyer and terminer, Northern circuit July 1660, assessment, Westmld. Aug. 1660-d., (N. Riding) 1661-d., Cumb. 1663-d., dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-d., steward of Richmond and Marquess fees, barony of Kendal Sept.-Dec. 1660; sheriff, Cumb. 1661-2; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Westmld. 1662, charitable uses. Cumb. and Westmld. 1670, recusants, Cumb., Westmld. and N. Riding 1675.2
Col. (royalist) ?1642-4; gov. Brougham Castle to 1644.3
Lowther’s ancestors had been seated at the village from which they took their name since at least the reign of Edward I, and from 1305 regularly represented the county. Lowther himself claimed in his old age to have been first elected as knight of the shire in his minority, but it is probable that his memory played him false. He and his father sat together for Westmorland in 1628-9, a highly unusual distinction for any family, however eminent. ‘A man of rigid virtue, temperate and grave, bred from his youth to a great frugality and privacy of living’, he was twice defeated by Sir Philip Musgrave in 1640. Though a royalist commissioner and a colonel in the Civil War, he claimed never to have borne arms against Parliament. He took the Covenant on the approach of the parliamentary forces, and was recommended for reappointment as j.p. He admitted an income of £1,418 p.a., and was fined £1,500, which, even allowing for the vast taxes and free quarter extorted by the Scots, was at least £400 under value. He was again appointed to the commission of the peace under the Protectorate, but probably refused to serve.4
Lowther was returned as representative of the barony at the general election of 1660, though his eligibility under the Long Parliament ordinance must have been dubious. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 25 committees, including those to consider the indemnity bill and to prepare for a conference on three orders issued by the House of Lords. He also helped to consider the bill for settling ecclesiastical livings and was named to the revenue committee. On 17 Aug. he was among those ordered to report on the amendments to the indemnity bill, and after the recess he was appointed to the committee for the attainder bill. In his only recorded speech, on 16 Nov., he opposed the bill introduced by Charles Howard to deal with Scottish moss-troopers, urging that peace might be kept on the borders as it formerly had been.5
Lowther did not stand again, though he remained very active in local administration and continued to expand his estate. He was particularly severe on Quakers, but his gentry neighbours were even more frightened of him, unless their estates were invulnerable to his take-over bids. He died on 30 Nov. 1675 and was buried at Lowther. Sir Daniel Fleming computed the value of his property in Westmorland, Cumberland, and the North Riding at £80,000, and he left £20,000 to his widow to provide for his second family.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Leonard Naylor
- 1. Collins, Peerage, v. 704-5; E. Bellasis, Westmld. Church Notes, ii. 180.
- 2. Boke off Recorde (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. extra ser. vii), 29; HMC Portland, i. 186; CSP Dom. 1655, p. 94; 1660-1, p. 284; Westmld. RO, D/Ry 1124.
- 3. SP23/186/408; HMC Lonsdale, 89.
- 4. Collins, v. 696; HMC Le Fleming, 104; Cumb. RO, D/Lons.; SP23/173/127.
- 5. Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 15.