LOWTHER, William II, of Waitby Agnes, Westmld. and Rose castle, Cumb.
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Family and Education
Constable of Rose castle for his gdfa. Bp. Strickland of Carlisle 4 June 1414-d.
Escheator, Cumb. and Westmld. 18 Rev. 1427-4 Nov. 1428.
Commr. of array, Cumb. July 1437; to levy debts due to the Crown Nov. 1454.
Lowther was almost certainly still under age when, in June 1414, his maternal grandfather, William Strickland, bishop of Carlisle, made him constable for life of the episcopal castle at Rose, at an annual fee of ten marks. Although he had an elder brother, Hugh†, William was clearly his grandfather’s favourite, since he was chosen, along with his father, (Sir) Robert, to execute the bishop’s will. The two men began this task in the late summer of 1419, and William’s return to Parliament in the following year for Appleby (where the bishop had owned property) may well have been so that he could deal with any legal business then outstanding at Westminster. His elder brother did not himself enter the House of Commons until 1426, but from then onwards, as might be expected, he assumed a far more prominent position both in the Lowther family and in the local community. Hugh Lowther naturally stood to inherit all his father’s estates, but careful provision was made for his five younger brothers out of the property left to them and their mother by Bishop Strickland. William’s share, which seems to have been far larger than that enjoyed by any of his siblings, comprised land in the Westmorland villages of Soulby and Warcop as well as half the manor of Waitby Agnes in the same county. All these holdings were in his hands by 1422, just a year after his father had re-negotiated one of his leases at the Exchequer, thus allowing William to join with him in farming three fisheries in Cumberland for the next 20 years. Consequently, even though he was somewhat overshadowed by his father and elder brother, William was still well placed to pursue his own career and interests.2
Lowther was present at the elections held at Carlisle to the Parliament of 1427, and shortly afterwards he assumed office as escheator of Westmorland and Cumberland. In March 1430, (Sir) Robert Lowther made a nuncupative will in which he left £20 to William, who was to be one of his executors. It looks as if the latter decided to make his home at Rose castle rather than on his own estates, since the list of Westmorland gentry who were to take the general oath of May 1434 that they would not support anyone who disturbed the peace describes him as living there. He had connexions in the south, too, no doubt through his uncle, Geoffrey Lowther†, a loyal supporter of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, whom he served in his dual capacity as constable of Dover and warden of the Cinque Ports. In December 1434, William was named as a trustee by the London goldsmith, John Kingston, whom he had presumably come to know through his uncle. The latter had no issue of his own, and was thus all the more anxious to help his brother’s offspring. In May 1438, for example, he used his influence at the Exchequer to have William made joint farmer with him of a ferry across the river Solway on the Scottish border. Geoffrey had previously leased the ferry alone, but he clearly hoped to keep this valuable asset in the Lowther family. We do not know, however, if he was able to assist William and his brother, Hugh, when they became embroiled in what was evidently a serious dispute with Thomas, Lord Dacre, and his sons. In 1443, Dacre offered sureties of 1,000 marks as an earnest of his readiness to abide by the award of the earl of Salisbury and Marmaduke Lumley, bishop of Carlisle, so the affair may have been settled peacefully. William’s position as a landowner improved somewhat in 1449, on the death of his mother, who left him a tenement in Carlisle and all her holdings in Dalston, Cumberland. He also possessed a reversionary interest in his uncle’s estates in Well, Garrington and Lockingdale in Kent, which was settled on him at this time by a fine in the court of common pleas, although he only stood to inherit if his two nephews, Robert and Geoffrey, died without male issue. In the event, Robert had to fight a lengthy suit in Chancery to recover the property from one of the trustees, and William himself may have died before the case reached a verdict.3
Towards the end of his life it is easy to confuse this William Lowther with a namesake and relative who in 1422, as a ‘King’s servant’, was given charge of the upper ward of Inglewood forest. The latter was quite probably one of the trustees upon whom Sir Nicholas Radcliffe’s* widow, Elizabeth, settled certain property near Penrith, in 1458, although, according to at least one source, the MP himself lived on for another 11 years, if not longer, and was thus well over 70 when he died. He left two sons, John and Hugh, and was buried at Dalston, near the estates left to him by his mother.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xvi. 158-62; xxxix. 114.
- 2. CPR, 1413-16, pp. 202-3; 1429-36, pp. 340-1; Test. Ebor. iii. 60-61; CCR, 1422-9, p. 9; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxii. 338; xxxix. 114.
- 3. C219/13/5; CPR, 1429-36, p. 383; 1436-41, p. 192; CCR, 1429-35, p. 346; 1435-41, p. 113; 1441-7, p. 138; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xvi. 158-62; xxxix. 113-14.
- 4. CPR, 1441-6, p. 73; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. vii. 249; xxxix. 113-14.