Lowndes of Overton
- Origins of the family
- Original description of arms
- Origins of the South Carolina branch
- Origins of the Whaddon (Bucks) branch
- Appendix 1. de Lounde
- Appendix 2. Overton line pedigree
- Appendix 3. Overton line 1500-
- Appendix 4. Renfrewshire to Rio 1687- [possible errors]
- Appendix 5. Lowndes of Whaddon
- Appendix 6. Lowndes of Odd Rode [National Archives reference]
Addendum [Mike L, 2007] family trees:
- Stirnet have uploaded some related partial trees here: Stirnet - Lowndes 01 Families covered: Lowndes-Stone of Brightwell, Lowndes of Chesham, Lowndes of Winslow, Selby-Lowndes of Whaddon - Starts with Robert Lowndes, 1602
- Lowndes of South Carolina
Copyright William Lowndes 1972. Converted to HTML by Mike Lowndes, Feb 2000. This conversion copyright Mike Lowndes 2000. No commercial use may be made of any part of this without authorisation in writing from Mike Lowndes. The test is presented as received, with some remaining possible digitisation artifacts from OCR (Object Character Recognition). Modifications to the text and commentary is clearly defined.
It is rarely possible to carry out even a modest piece of research without help from both individuals and institutions. The present record is no exception to this precept, and I would like gratefully to acknowledge the assistance I have received from the following:
County Archivist, Cheshire Record Office, Chester
County Archivist, Buckinghamshire Record Office, Aylesbury
County Archivist, Essex Record Office, Chelmsford
Keeper of the Archives, The Old Schools, Cambridge
C. Rippon, A.L.A., County Librarian, Buckinghamshire
A. J. Condliffe, Editor, Congleton Chronicle
Brigadier Montacute W. W. Selby-Lowndes, D.S.O., m,F.H., Norfolk
Rev. J. E. G. Cartlidge, F.R.MIST.S., Oakengates, Salop
A. R. Hodgkinson, Overton Hall Farm, Smallwood, Cheshire
Mrs. Taylor, Old House Green, Nr. Astbury, Cheshire
Mrs. G. M. Crane, The Rectory, Astbury, Cheshire
Lady E. C. Cruise, 34 Wimpole Street, London, W.1.
I am particularly grateful to K. J. Lace, F.L.A., County Librarian of Essex, who provided me with a wealth of significant background material; and to Donald Lowndes, c.B.E., of Rio de Janeiro, whose help and co-operation have been invaluable to me.
"I think with you that the life of a Husbandman, of all others, is the most delectable. It is honorable. It is amusing and, with judicious management, it is profitable."
GEORGE WASHINGTON to ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD,
February 13th, 1788.
"In human beings, as in horses, there is something to be said for the hereditary principle."
F. E. SMITH, LORD BIRKENHEAD.
On the east side of the Cheshire plain, between the towns of Congleton and Sandbach, lies the ancient parish of Astbury. Eastward, the land rises steadily towards the foothills of the Derbyshire Peak District; standing on the slopes of Mow Cop -almost a thousand feet above sea level - you see the vast expanse of the plain stretching westward to the horizon and the hills of North Wales, a rural panorama of trees and fields and farms, with the great bowl of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope clearly visible in the middle distance. Manchester is twenty-five miles to the north, Liverpool thirty-five miles to the northwest. This is rich farming country, and for centuries its lush meadows have helped to provide some of the finest dairy produce in the kingdom.
Astbury is a very old parish indeed, with a tiny village and a beautiful fourteenth-century church at its heart. The ancient boundaries of the parish were extensive, embracing a number of sub-parishes Newbold Astbury, Smallwood, Odd Rode and others. Here, over the centuries. families farmed the land, living, working and dying within sight of Mow Cop and the Derbyshire Hills. The principle of primogeniture was rigorously upheld: eldest sons inherited ancestral homes, younger sons moved away, seldom very far, to establish their own farms and households. This quiet pattern of husbandry, so common a feature of English social history, continued, in many cases for five or six hundred years, until the middle of the nineteenth century. Then the industrial revolution gradually drew people from the land to the towns and the cities, where better wages could be earned in the factories. Slowly the long traditions of English husbandry were eroded, and in some instances, destroyed.
Among the families who farmed in the districts of Smallwood and Odd Rode in Astbury was one called Lowndes. Some of its earliest members had settled at Overton in Smallwood early in the fourteenth century, going there from Yorkshire, where they had owned land since the eleventh century. Their old manor house, Overton Hall, between Sandbach and Congleton, was in continuous occupation by successive generations of the family until the middle of the eighteenth century, when it was given to Cambridge University, with more than a hundred acres of land, to help found a Chair of Astronomy. But before this, scions of the family had spread their influence beyond the boundaries of Cheshire, and indeed, beyond England itself.
One had moved south to Winslow in Buckinghamshire early in the sixteenth century, and his great-grandson, William Lowndes, became Secretary of the Treasury in the reign of Queen Anne. He was known as "Ways and Means" Lowndes, and was credited with originating this phrase. And in an age when large families were common, he even achieved a degree of distinction in this sphere: he married four times, and his wives bore no less than twenty-five children. His fecundity was inherited by his son and grandson, who fathered sixteen and ten children respectively.
Other descendants of the Overton family went to America and established themselves in South Carolina, well before the loss of the American colonies and the Declaration of Independence: one, Rawlins Lowndes, became Governor of South Carolina in 1788. Thomas Lowndes, who gave Overton to Cambridge University, discovered a means of improving brine salt, which was reluctantly accepted by the Royal Navy. A young descendant of the clan, Samuel Lowndes, was a lieutenant on Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel's ill-fated flagship Association, and was drowned with the Admiral and most of the crew when the great ship foundered and sank off the Scillies in 1707. Sarah, daughter of John Lowndes of Overton, married, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a gentleman called Awnsham Churchill, who was descended from the same family as John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough. Another member of the family (not proven - this appears to be from the Rode branch of the family- ML) settled at Arthurlie in Scotland during the same century, one of his descendants emigrated to South America in 1841 and established a banking business there, which still thrives in Rio de Janeiro and other parts of Brazil.
All this, of course, is not remarkable. Thousands of families have had a far greater impact on their times, and many thousands more can claim an equally protracted lineage. If the appropriate documentary evidence were available, every one of us could trace our ancestry, if not back to the Normans, at least to the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. Much evidence of this nature is, of course, available and easily accessible. By consulting wills, parish registers, letters, deeds and other contemporary manuscript records, one can often piece together fragments of information that will give an authentic outline of one's family story. Genealogy is a completely fascinating subject, and pursuing it, one can gain an astonishingly vivid insight into social history. The way our forebears lived and worked, the money and personal goods they managed to acquire, the way they furnished their houses - all these facts, and many others, emerge from some of the contemporary records that I have mentioned. Working backwards, and trying to establish a link between one generation and its predecessor has the absorbing fascination of a jig-saw puzzle: suddenly you discover a piece of information which brings half-a-dozen other facts into their correct context. And even if you fail to establish some of the links, the insight into social history, and the limited knowledge of genealogy, heraldry and early handwriting that you inevitably acquire in the process, are sufficient rewards in themselves. As the search for corroborative detail spreads and deepens, it takes on the flavour of an adventure - a voyage behind the curtain of history, revealing a glimpse of England and its people that the textbooks often ignore.
The Rio connection
My own adventures started quite accidentally. My son, living in Rio de Janeiro, met Mr. Donald Lowndes in that city: Mr. Lowndes is a banker, and a descendant of Henry-Bandinel Lowndes who emigrated to South America from Arthurlie in Scotland in 1841. They discussed ancestral origins, and it became clear that Mr. Lowndes and his family in Rio were descended from the Cheshire family of Lowndes that had lived for centuries at Overton in that county. My own forebears, I knew, came from an area near Congleton in Cheshire. There might, it seemed, be a connection between the two lines. I decided to investigate.
I had only the briefest knowledge of my family's background. My father
and his brothers had lived all their lives in Manchester, and so, too,
had my grandfather, whose name was Samuel Hope Lowndes. I had heard
vague stories about the waywardness of my great-grandfather, John Hope
Lowndes, who had lived near Congleton in Cheshire, and who was much
too fond of the bottle. He had been a member of the Manchester Yeomanry,
a troop of part-time mounted soldiers that had assisted the regular
troops when they carried out their infamous charge on a peaceful meeting
at Peterloo Fields in Manchester, in 1819. This was the notorious Peterloo
Massacre that shocked English public opinion at the beginning of the
last century; and my distinguished forebear had been so drunk when
he spurred his horse into the crowd, waving his sabre madly, that he
succeeded only in cutting off both his horse's ears. It was an ignoble
part to play in an ignoble and ill-advised gesture of authority, and
my father always told the story with disgusted irony in his voice.
John Hope Lowndes was an ancestor of whom it was impossibe to be proud.
This, then, was the sum total of my knowledge, and it seemed far from promising. But then I looked at a one inch Ordnance Survey map of Cheshire, and discovered that Overton was a mere five miles from Congleton. The flame of interest quickened then. I went to Somerset House, hoping to discover some dates that would help to establish John Hope Lowndes's identity a little more precisely.
The records at Somerset House are not primarily concerned with the pedigrees of families. The main series maintained by the Registrar General is a record of births, deaths and marriages, starting only as far back as Ist July, 1837. But this record can provide a helpful and important start in the compilation of a pedigree. I searched through the index volumes, and eventually discovered details of the entries for the death of John Hope Lowndes, and for his second marriage. 1 applied for, and eventually received by post, copies of the appropriate certificates; and both these provided me with useful information.
The death certificate, dated January 1864, gave his age as 65: thus he was born in 1799 approximately. It also stated his occupation"formerly a cotton broker". The marriage certificate, dated April 1845, referred to him as a widower-hence the reasonable assumption that this was his second marriage. And more important, this certificate gave his father's name - William Lowndes.
So John began to assume a tangible shape. He was born right at the
end of the eighteenth century, presumably married for a second time
when he was 46, worked as a cotton broker, and died in 1864 at the
age of 65. The next step was to find some information about his father
- and my great-great-grandfather - William Lowndes.
I searched through the index volumes at Somerset House for the entry of his death, on the reasonable assumption that it was likely to have occurred after the records commenced in 1837; if he had been in his twenties when John Hope was born in 1799, and had lived his normal life-span, then possibly he had died between 1840 and 1850. I discovered an entry for the death of a William Lowndes, registered at Congleton on 26th December, 1844. The age was given as 72, and the occupation simply as "Gentleman". The cause of death was stated to be "old age".
This was, in fact, the entry I required, although at that stage I needed more corroboration. Several other men bearing the name of William Lowndes had died in Cheshire during that decade. A second or third Christian name could probably have identified him beyond reasonable doubt; but without additional names, it was impossible to be sure.
I argued that if he were a man of substance, he had most probably made a will - and that it was reasonable to believe that, if he had done this, the will had survived. I wrote to the County Archivist at Chester asking if a William Lowndes, circa 1780-1850, resident in or near Congleton, had made a will. If so, and if it had survived, might I have a xerox copy ?
It was a long shot, but it paid off handsomely. A week or ten days later I received a bulky packet containing a copy of my great-great grandfatl,ier's will. It confirmed that he had died in 1844, and that he had had a son named John Hope Lowndes. But it also gave me a great deal more significant information.
It was a lengthy document, written in beautiful copper-plate handwriting
on fourteen large sheets of paper, and beginning with the words "This
is the last will and testament of me, William Lowndes, of Old House
Green in Odd Rode in the county of Chester, esquire". The language
in which it was couched was characterised, of course, by dry legal
verbosity, but its import was abundantly clear. William had two sizeable
houses - Ramsdell Hall and Old House Green - a great deal of land,
and substantial sources of income. And he was in no doubt whatsoever
about how he wished to dispose of his considerable assets. He had married
Elizabeth Hope (this explained why the name Hope was given to succeeding
generations of the family: it was so prevalent that I had even given
it to my own son, without knowing why it had been used). William and
Elizabeth had eight children: two sons, of whom John Hope was the eldest,
and six daughters, who had all married when the will was made in 1840.
But this was an occasion when the principal of primogeniture was not allowed to operate. Halfway through the will, the testator made his intentions very clear: "And whereas", he wrote, "my son John Hope Lowndes ... has been a very great expense to me, I therefore leave to my said son John Hope Lowndes ... the sum of fifteen shillings a week for his life only". Peterloo was twenty-one years behind then, but my great grandfather had obviously not improved. His sustained wayward behaviour had resulted in his being cut off, in classic fashion, with a few shillings a week for the course of his life. The estate, the "mansion houses" as William called them - all the "messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments, and the income therefrom" were left to William's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who had married a wine merchant named Chaddock. With a stroke of his quill pen, the old man had disinherited John Hope and his right heirs for ever, and had ensured that his estates would eventually pass out of the family completely. He made one qualifying condition. "And further it is my will and mind, and I hereby direct", he wrote, "that the person who shall be so entitled to my said estates as last aforesaid, not previously having the Surname and Arms hereinafter required to be used, and also the husband of any female who shall so become entitled, forthwill shall take and use the Surname of 'Lowndes' alone, or in addition to his or her own name, but so nevertheess that the name of 'Lowndes' shall be the last, or principal name, and also to assume, use and wear my Arms, and thence-forth from time to time to assume, use and wear such Surname and Arms accordingly".
Elizabeth's husband, William Chaddock, complied with this condition immediately, and changed his name by deed-poll to Chaddock Lowndes; and years later his children placed a brass inscription under the west window of the south aisle of Astbury Church, which reads:"To the firm memory of their Grandfather and Grandmother, William and Elizabeth Lowndes of Ramsdell Hall and Old House Green in this parish; also to the memory of numerous relatives who are interred in this Churchyard, and to the beloved memory of their Father and Mother, this brass is placed by Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes, Isabella Sarah Hope and Lucy Elizabeth Chaddock, October 1883."
Thus I learned how an old man's intransigence, one hundred and thirty years previously, had changed the lives of succeeding generations in two families. My father, I know, had been completely unaware of these developments., discussion on the subject had obviously been discouraged long before he was born, and he knew only vaguely of John Hope's wayward proclivities, referring to him disparagingly as a wastrel. Only the faintest sounds of a rattling skeleton had occasionally issued from a distant cupboard. I had contrived, it seemed, not only to locate the cupboard, but to open the door.
I took an early opportunity to visit Ramsdell Hall and Old House Green, and found them both to the south of Astbury, close to the famous Little Moreton Hall, and about a mile east of the main road from Congleton to Ashton-under-Lyme. Ramsdell Hall is a spacious and beautiful eighteenth-century house, faced with red brick and set in about eighteen acres of gardens and open parkland. It was probably built about 1750, and consists of a central, three-storey block flanked by two long, low wings which contained the coach house and various service rooms.
The gardens are informally laid out, and contain two large lily ponds and a variety of particularly fine shrubs and trees. William had obviously been very proud of these, and of some of the meadows on the estate; he stipulated in his will that anyone entitled to live at Ramsdell Hall should not "break up, or leave in tillage any of the Oldrest meadows or usual mowing grounds which have, for many years past, been held in great estimation for the excellent Cheese made therefrom, nor cut down any of the ornamental timber on the said estates".
The house, inevitably, has its ghost. Legend has it that in its early days, a duel was fought on one of the lawns between two young men who were competing for the hand of the owner's daughter. She dashed out of the house to try to prevent them from fighting, and was tragically run through by a rapier; and her ghost, it is said, has haunted Ramsdell Hall ever since.
When I called there the house was empty, and carpenters were at work, carrying out alterations for a new tenant who had just bought the estate; he was, it appeared, the proprietor of a group of super-markets in Stoke-on-Trent, and was to move in during the following month. I walked through the empty rooms, and tried to imagine what they were like when William and Elizabeth were bringing up their eight children at the time of the Regency, and John Hope Lowndes was incurring his father's strong displeasure. It needed little inventiveness to re-create in one's mind the discord that his gambling and extravagances must have caused; eldest sons had to disgrace themselves pretty thoroughly before they were disinherited so completely.
Old House Green lay close by, less than half a mile away. It is a smaller house, but considerably older, and is now used as a farmhouse. After his wife's death, and after he had bequeathed Ramsdell Hall and the rest of his estate to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, William came to live here, and died in the house on Boxing Day, 1844, at the age of 72. He had lived a reasonably long life as a country gentleman, had farmed his acres and had brought up a sizeable family. He had twice been Mayor of Congleton, in 1828-29 and again in 1830-31, and for long had been a prominent figure in the social and political life of the district. The shires of England knew many such men in the first half of the nineteenth century, and the pattern of their lives was almost uniformly similar.
Having acquired so much information from William's will, I decided to find out what other testamentary documents existed for earlier members of the family. This became an exceedingly fruitful area of research, because a large number of wills are still in existence; I was able to carry the line back to 1599, without missing a single generation. Two factors enabled me to do this satisfactorily. One was the efficiency of the Cheshire Record Office, which has published indices of the large collection of wills in its possession, and which provides xerox copies of any of these at a modest charge. The other factor, less tangible but equally important, was the immobility, over the centuries, of families engaged in husbandry. My ancestors farmed the same land, and lived in the same neck of the woods, for centuries. In their wills they refer to "the ancient inheritance of Old House Green". and most of them asked to be buried in the churchyard at Astbury. Some left home, of course. and made careers for themselves elsewhere. Humphrey Lowndes, son of Hugh Lowndes, who died in 1630, was a stationer in the City of London; so was his brother Matthew. Hugh Lowndes, who died in 1754, was a clergyman whose living was the remote chapel of Saltersford in the east Cheshire hills, five and a half miles north-east of Macclesfie!d; he was the second minister at this tiny church, taking up the living in 1748. Others forsook farming and entered a number of trades and professions. But the majority lived, worked and died in this corner of east Cheshire, and left commonplace documentary evidence of their existence there wills, deeds, letters, receipts, etc. When this localised documentary evidence is available in sufficient quantity, the work of the genealogical researcher is made considerably easier.
Wills are particularly valuable. They contain references to personal names, often in profusion, and they state relationships exactly - for example, "I bequeath to my sister Sarah Lowndes . . ." or "I give to my good brother-in-law Randle Berkeley........ This type of information can often help to identify a person quite positively - especially as the will invariably bears a date. And the bequests themselves throw fascinating light on the way people lived hundreds of years ago. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example, domestic articles were highly prized, and were passed on from one generation to the next. When Robert Lowndes of Overton made his will in 1661, one year after the Restoration of Charles II, he arranged the following bequests: "First I give to Elianor, my loving wife, two beds with all their furniture as they stand in my chamber over the kitchen, and all the chests and trunks in the said chamber, two lesser pots and an iron cauldron in the kitchen, and all the dishes, spoons and trenchers and other things therein, except the grate, racks and such instruments as hold them up; the salt coffer and the dressers I give to John Lowndes, my son. Also I give to my said wife four of my best cows of her choice, my old bald mare and my white mare, three of my largest pewter dishes, half a dozen lesser, a pewter flagon, four of my best barrels, all my wooden brewing vessels and all that belong to her dairy, all my linnens in my said kitchen chamber, and such other things as she shall use for housekeeping. Also I give to John Lowndes, my son, a gold signet ring which was my grandfather's . . .
John was a younger son, and had to be content with secondary bequests like the salt coffer and the gold ring. His mother, as we saw above, inherited most of the domestic equipment. But the house and the land-the messuages, tenements and hereditaments-passed to William, the eldest son. The old custom of promogeniture was still inviolate. I examined copies of scores of wills such as this, and gradually I was able to build up an authentic pedigree; the first-born sons who inherited almost invariably made wills, and the task proved to be not too difficult. There were gaps and occasional inconsistencies, of course, but the main line, through the elder sons, was clearly defined. The method I employed was to work backwards, starting with the facts that I had acquired from the will of William Lowndes of Ramsdell Hall. I obtained copies of almost all the Lowndes wills preserved in the Record Office at Chester, and was able to take the line back with the help of the details that these provided. William's father proved to be Edward Lowndes, whose will referred to Old House Green and property at Barnton in Cheshire; he died in 1811, and the parish registers at Astbury provided me with his birth-date, which was 1730. His grandfather was Hugh Lowndes, who died in 1741 and who, in his will, numbered among his bequests "all my messuages, lands, tenements lying and being in Odd Rode and Barnton in the County of Chester"; he also referred to "the malt mill and all the stone troughs and cisterns now being at Old House Green at the time of my death" -confirmation once again. His father was also called Hugh and he, too, had left a will, indicating that the date of his death was 1680. The Astbury registers showed that he was born in 1604 - a hardy man, no doubt., seventy-six was a very good age to reach in the seventeenth century. From that point I established the identity of his father, Edward Lowndes, who died in 1608, and of his grandfather, another Hugh Lowndes, who died in 1599. The recurrence of names like Hugh and Edward tended to confirm the evidence provided by the wills, and to stress the value of Christian name pattterns in building up a pedigree.
The usefulness of parish registers in a search of this kind also
became vividly apparent at this stage. Churches began to record details
of births, marriages and burials in 1538, but few registers go back
as far as this, those at Astbury were begun in 1572, and they have
been carefully preserved at the church. The vicar's wife undertook
a search for me, at a nominal charge, and supplied me with a most valuable
list of baptism, marriage and burial dates for several members of the
family, these, as I have indicated, helped to fill in gaps in the pedigree,
and often provided useful and positive identification. It is worth
while, I also discovered, to check the registers of nearby parishes,
as well as those of the parish in which one's forebears lived and died.
The Astbury registers revealed that Hugh Lowndes of Rode was buried
on April 19th, 1599. 1 examined the registers of Gawsworth Church,
a few miles north of Astbury, and discovered the date of Hugh's wedding.
The entry was the first one to be made in the register under "Marriages",
and it read:-
1557 Jan 24th Hugh Lowndes and Thomasin Brodhurst of Prestbury.
I butt in here with some recent research by Irene Parker-Lowndes. Using Appendix 4 as a reference Irene has done some fascinating primary research using parish registers etc, and found a key error in the lineage around 'Hugh Lowndes.' Read it!
Thus Hugh married in the year preceding the accession of Queen Elizabeth I -the last year of Mary's brief, unhappy reign. If he had been in his twenties when he married-which is more than likelythen one could assume that he was born about 1530, or soon afterwards. A reasonable conclusion such as this is valuable only in that it restricts the limits of the period in which one must search to discover the exact date of birth.
After intensive examination of wills, parish registers and the records
at Somerset House, I now had the main components of an authentic pedigree
which went back to the middle of the sixteenth century (Appendix 6).
This was gratifying indeed; but I still needed to link the pedigree
with that of the main branch of the family which had lived at Overton
a few miles away. I was reasonably certain that Hugh Lowndes, who died
in 1599. was the son of a younger son of the house of Overton; and
eventually I found evidence which tended to confirm this fact. Hugh's
will had not survived, but that of his wife, Thomasin, who died in
1604. was in the Record Office at Chester, and I was able to examine
a copy. She left bequests to all her children, one of whom was the
Humphrey Lowndes who became a stationer in London. I had encountered
Humphrey's name when I visited the church at Astburynot on a tombstone,
or in the parish registers, but on the leather binding of an old book
on the Marian persecutions, that had once been part of the chained
library in the church. I had made a note of the inscription on the
book's cover which read: "The gift of Humphrey Lowndes. citizen and
stationer of London, son of Hugh Lowndes while he lived in this parish".
So Humphrey, it was clear, had left the parental fold and sought his fortune as a stationer in London, late in the sixteenth century. From the Record Office at the Guildhall I learned that he had owned property in the parish of St. Nicholas Olave, in Bread Street Ward, and at Somerset House I discovered his will. He died in 1630, and among the bequests he made was the following: "I give to my everloving cousin John Lowndes of Overton, in Cheshire, my gold ring, given to me by my sister Ann".
This isolated fact supported my belief that the two lines were connected.
If Humphrey and John were cousins, it was reasonable to assume that
their fathers were closely related-John's forebear being the elder
son who inherited Overton, and Humphrey's a younger son making his
way independently. And the gold ring, of course, was the same as that
mentioned by Robert Lowndes of Overton in 1661, in the portion of his
will quoted above.
These new scraps of evidence fitted like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, and the picture began to assume an even broader aspect. I had now to identify the Overton branch of the family more clearly, and to place my own branch in its context as a colateral, or secondary line.
According to Burke's Landed Gentry for 1850, the family of Lowndes is of Norman extraction.
I discovered very little evidence to support this fact until I visited the Buckinghamshire Record Office at Aylesbury, in pursuit of information about the Buckinghamshire branch of the family - a scion of the clan, it may be remembered, had settled in this county early in the sixteenth century. At Aylesbury I was able to examine an immense manuscript pedigree of the family, which I had good reason to believe had been compiled for William Lowndes of Whaddon in the nineteenth century. It was a huge document, several feet wide and literally yards long when it was unrolled. And it contained a wealth of information on the earlier members of the Lowndes family (Appendix 1).
William, Seigneur de Lounde, came with the Conqueror in 1066, and was given extensive lands in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire. He married Hawyse, daughter and heiress of Maurice de Ogwell, Lord of Ogwell and Kidwelly, and by this marriage acquired great possessions on the borders of Wales,
Note: (Mike Lowndes) there is evidence (some dug up by Matt Lowndes) that there is some confusion here between Ogwell and Ogmore - and between de Lownde and de Londres (given the castle of Ogmore, near Cardiff - and Kidwelly is near-by). I need to follow this up! Read this and the tomb enscriptions here. As far as I can see de Londres family is not mentioned until the 12th century. William Lowndes (the author of this book) may be incorrect in the de Lowndes - Hawyse marriage, unless de Lownde / de Londres are one and the same.
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. One of his sons was standard bearer to the nobles in the Crusades of Robert, Duke of Normandy, in 1098. And from his eldest son, William, was descended Sir John de Loundes, who was Custodian of the City of London in the reign of Henry III; in 1266, the jubilee year of the King's reign, the City and Tower were committed to Sir John's care, by an order dated 23rd November, 50 Henry III.
Sir John had three sons, William, RichArd and John. Richard was M.P. for Cornwall, and John sat for Stafford in the Parliament held at Westminster in 1312. William, the eldest son, again had three sons Sir Adam de Loundes, William de Loundes, and the Reverend John de Loundes, who was Rector of All Saints, York. It was at this time, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, that the family's roots in Cheshire were established. William married Agnes de Bretoste, and settled in the county; his son William became a cleric in Chester in 1357. In a deed bearing the date 35 Edward I (1305) mention is made of "Richard, the son of Adam de Lounde, of Swettenham" in Cheshire; and in a writ of dower of 9 Richard II (1386) reference is made to &'Thomas de Loundes and Johanna, his wife, of Wymboldsey" in Cheshire. The earliest seats of the family in the county were at Overton and Lea Hall.
Other members of the clan had resided in Yorkshire for at least a century previously: the name continually occurs in the commissions of Array for that county in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In the Parliament rolls for the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) there is a petition of William Loundes of Holdemess in Yorkshire. And Sir Alexander de Loundes of Cave, Yorkshire, is mentioned in an interesting deed dated 3 Henry V (1415), in which the King entered into an agreement with him to ensure his support, in person and with followers, on the expedition into France; Henry deposited the Crown jewels with Sir Alexander as security for the record of his services on this occasion. The family had received a grant of arms in 1180, the heraldic description being "Argent fretty azure, on a canton Gules a lion's head erased or". Very little documentary evidence exists to throw light on their progress during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but it seems clear that the main branch became established at Overton in Cheshire during this time. Then, in 1612, the heralds of the College of Arms carried out a visitation of Cheshire, and recorded a five-generation pedigree of the Lowndes family.
Heraldic visitations began in 1530, and continued until 1686. The heralds visited the counties at intervals of about a generation, and the gentry were summoned to justify their right to arms, and to the style of gentlemen. Details of their pedigrees and arms were entered in visitation books, which are still,in the possession of the College of Arms.
From the middle of the fourteenth century English society was classified most comprehensively. A law was passed in 1363, designed to restrain "the outrageous and excessive apparel of divers people against their estate and degree". Knights and rich esquires occupied an exalted position in the hierarchy; then came poorer esquires, yeomen and merchants, followed by craftsmen and grooms. At the bottom of the social pyramid were "grooms serving husbandry", and others, "possessing goods under forty shillings".
The classification was an integral part of feudalism, the name given to the social and political system that the Normans brought to England. The King granted land to the barons, and in return, he received service from knights. The barons, in their turn, gave manors to the knights, and these manors were let to sub-tenants. Thus the knights developed into the gentry; esquires, who were originally the servants of knights, came to indicate a class of country gentlemen, and below this rank came the yeomen. The whole system was based on the vassal's fealty to his lord; his return was the hereditary endowment of land, the fee or fief - Latin "feudum'l, which has provided us with the substantive "feudalism".
During their visitations, the heralds were allowed to grant armorial
bearings at their discretion. When they visited Cheshire in 1612 Sir
Richard St. George, Norroy King of Arms, granted a crest to John Lowndes
of Overton, the citation reading: "We
grant to John Lowndes of Overton, for his Crest, a Lion's Head erased
Or, gorged with a Chaplet Vert; as to their ancient Arms, there was
The pedigree which the heralds recorded for Lowndes' family in 1612 is reproduced in Appendix 2. Unfortunately it has very few dates; there are only two, and one of these was clearly added twenty years after the visitation. The same Christian names were repeatedly used among families in successive generations, and frequently dates of birth or death provide the only means of positive identihcation. In the Overton branch of the Lowndes family, the names John and William occur frequently; and in the Odd Rode branch, as we have seen, Hugh and Edward appear in several generations. This repeated pattem of Christian names is a useful guide for the genealogist, but the endorsement of dates is often necessary to avoid wrong identification.
Another element of vagueness in the heralds' pedigrees is the use of the phrase "and others". In the Lowndes pedigree of 1612 it will be seen that Richard Lowndes and his wife Isabel had a son William, a daughter Isabel, "and others". The un-named progeny, of course, were younger children who would not inherit, and who were not, therefore, identified. I was able to procure a copy of Richard Lowndes' will -he died in 1591 -and, through this, to identify his children fully. Had the will not survived, it would have been impossible to do this from the heralds' pedigree.
I knew, too, that the John Lowndes at the head of this pedigree, who was born circa 1500, had other children in addition to his son Richard. One of them, it seems virtually certain, was the father of Hugh Lowndes who died in 1599. Another was William Lowndes of Overton, from whom was descended the line of the family that established itself, many years later, in South Carolina. William's son, another William, bought Bostock House, near Sandbach, in the late sixteenth century, and one of his descendants, Charles Lowndes (1658-1736) emigrated to St. Kitts in the Leeward Islands; there he married Ruth Rawlins, and their third son, Rawlins Lowndes, became Governor of South Carolina in 1788. Another kinsman of John was Robert Lowndes, who moved south to Buckinghamshire early in the sixteenth century, and from whom was descended "Ways and Means" Lowndes who became Secretary of the Treasury in the reign of Queen Anne. This gentleman carried parenthood to absurdly excessive lengths., he had twenty-five children by four wives. His son was equally prolific, fathering sixteen children, eight of them in three years and eight months-twins, four tiines successively. And his grandson, Mr. Selby Lowndes of Winslow, had ten children. Three generations of this branch of the family thus produced no less than fifty-one children. Faced with miniature population explosions such as this, the heralds could hardly be blamed, one supposes, for using such phrases as "and others".
But Mr. Secretary Lowndes had more substantial claims to fame than those suggested by his virility. He was born at Winslow on Ist November, 1652, and after attending the free school at Buckingham he went on to Eton and Oxford, and then joined the Treasury as a clerk. He became Secretary in 1695, and his share of the fees for the first year of office was nearly £2,400 - generous remuneration indeed for the end of the seventeenth century. He carried out a reform of the coinage, and about this time the diarist, Evelyn, heard him read, at the Guildhall, the commission for the endowment of Greenwich Hospital. He was returned as Member for Seaford, one of the Cinque Ports, in 1695, and he represented that constituency in Parliament until the close of Queen Anne's reign. In 1700 he bought the manor of Winslow, and built his manor-house there from a design by Inigo Jones. It still stands, "a very substantial fabric", as Lipscombe describes it in his History of Buckinghamshire, with Lowndes' name over the door, and the date of its erection, 1700.
During the first Parliament of the reign of George I he represented the borough of St. Mawes in Cornwall, and in October, 1722, he stood unsuccessfully for Westminster. A few days later the seat at East Looe became vacant when the Member for that constituency, Horace Walpole, decided to stand for Great Yarmouth: Lowndes was returned, and once again represented a Cornish borough. At the beginning of 1723 he purchased from the Exchequer the reversion in fee of the property he owned in St. James's and at Knightbridge; Lowndes Square and Lowndes Street in this part of London perpetuate his name to this day. He died on 20th January, 1724. Walpole, announcing his death, said "the House had lost a very useful Member, and the public as able and honest a servant as ever the Crown had". And a few years later Lord Chesterfield described him, clearly with a little acerbity, as "the famous secretary to whose favourite maxim 'Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves', his posterity owed the very considerable fortune that he left them".
This considerable fortune no doubt had much to do with the linking of this branch of the family to the Barringtons of Barrington Hall, Essex, and later to the Selbys of Whaddon in Oxfordshire. Early in the eighteenth century three grandsons of Mr. Secretary Lowndes married three sisters, the daughters of Anne and Charles Shales. Anne was a daughter of Sir Thomas Barrington, who traced his descent from George, Duke of Clarence, the unfortunate brother of Richard 111 who was drowned in a butt of malmsey in the Tower in 1478. Clarence's daughter Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, married Sir Richard Pole, and eventually encountered an even worse fate than her father's: she was beheaded in 1541. Her son Harry married a daughter of Lord Abergavenny, and Winifred, their daughter, married Sir Thomas Barrington, who died in 1591. From him were descended Sir Francis, Sir Thomas, Sir John, and again Sir Thomas Barrington, the last of whom was the father of Anne who married Charles Shales (see Appendix 5). Anne's daughters were Mary, Anne and Essex. Mary married Robert Lowndes, grandson of "Ways and Means", and died at Bath, where she was buried within the rails of the font in the Abbey; Anne married Charles Lowndes, Robert's brother; and Essex married Richard Lowndes, a third brother, and bore him a son, William.
William became a great friend of Thomas James Selby, of Whaddon Hall in Oxfordshire, a scion of the ancient family of Selby, who traced their descent from John de Selebye, who died in 1199, and Ralph Selby, who was Master of King's College, Cambridge, in 1390, and Baron of the Exchequer. The friendship must have been a deep one, because Thomas James Selby left Whaddon Hall to William Lowndes, on condition that he took the name of Selby, and added it to his own. This was done in 1813, and the great-grandson of "Ways and Means" Lowndes became William Selby-Lowndes of Whaddon.
The baronetcy of Barrington became extinct in 1836, when Sir Fitzwilliam Barrington, 10th baronet, died without issue. According to a settlement made by Sir Charles Barrington, 5th Baronet, the whole of the property went to the heirs of his sister, Mrs. Shales - mother of the three sisters who married Charles, Robert and William Lowndes. These heirs were Lowndes of Whaddon and Lowndes of Chesham: they divided and sold, and the property was bought by Thomas Lowndes, son of Robert Lowndes of Palterton. He died without issue in 1840, and Barrington eventually passed to one of the heirs of his aunt, Mary Chadwick Gorst (Appendix 3), whose patronymic was George Alan Clayton. Mr. Clayton changed his name to Lowndes, and after his death the property passed to his son, Alan Herbert Wallington Lowndes. It was acquired, early in the present century, by a Mr. Gosling, whose son is the present owner.
The main branch of the Lowndes family at Overton were not by any means as prolific as Mr. Secretary Lowndes and his sons at Winslow. They occupied Overton Hall for approximately four hundred years -from early in the fourteenth century until the middle of the eighteenth century - and the line of their descent, through the eldest sons, is followed in some detail in the edition of Burke's Landed Gentry for 1850. The name of John Lowndes, born about 1500, is the first to be recorded, and it was from him, as we have seen, that the colateral branches stemmed: his younger sons almost certainly included the father of Hugh Lowndes who died in 1599. But his great-grandson, John Lowndes of Overton, who died in 1633, is the first member of this branch of the family about whom we have definite information. It was he who was granted a crest to his coat of arms by Richard St. George, Norroy King of Arms, in 1612. And it was to him that Humphrey Lowndes, stationer of the City of London, and son of Hugh Lowndes, had left his gold ring. He married Alice Rode, daughter of Randle Rode who, according to a pedigree produced for Robert Lowndes by the College of Arms in 1810, traced her descent from the Lady Margaret, commonly called St. Margaret, the last heir of the ancient Saxon kings of, England, and great-grandmother of King Henry 11. The family of Rode was ancient and well respected, and had long been prominent in Cheshire's history, John Lowndes must certainly have been considered to have made a good match. And if Alice's descent from the Lady Margaret is correct, the members of the family who stemmed from these two could legitamately claim to have royal blood in their veins.
John's will, unfortunately, has not survived, but I was able to obtain a copy of the inventory which was attached to it originally. It is headed "A true and perfect inventory, taken the 14th day of May, 1633, of all the goods, debts, cattle and chattels of John Lowndes, late of Smailwood in the County of Chester, gent, deceased, appraised by them whose names are underwritten", and it shows him to have been a man of some substance. In addition to considerable husbandryware and livestock, his household possessions reveal a standard of living that was high for the first half of the seventeenth century. Alice and he had, for example, 32 pairs of rough sheets, 10 pairs of fine sheets, 12 tablecloths, 8 dozen napkins, silverware, pewter and copper. In various rooms of the house there were a dozen beds, chairs covered with red leather, several tables and dressers, and carpets, cushions, curtains and curtain rods. He had a collection of books which the appraisers styled "his library"., and the rooms at Overton are referred to by such names as "the buttery", "the chamber over the buttery", "the little garret chamber", "the dayhouse". "the parlour". "the chamber over the entry", "the stone chamber", "the hall and entry chamber", etc. Eighteen rooms in all are mentioned, as well as a barn, a granary, a kiln, a brewhouse and a dairy. It must have been a well-equipped establishment, in keeping with John's status as a gentleman farmer. No doubt Richard St. George went to the house when he granted a crest to John's coat of arms in 1612: it was an important part of the herald's task, during visitations, to ensure that grantees were prosperously endowed.
More than a century later, as we shall see, Overton passed into the possession of Cambridge University, and in the Old Schools at Cambridge there is still to be seen a plan and description of the house and grounds. The house, facing Overton Green and the south, was a low, well-timbered building, covered with thick and broad slate; most of the structure dated from the time of Henry VIII, although there were parts of the original house dating from the fourteenth century. In front of the building there was a courtyard surrounded by a wall, and a gateway with two large stone pillars was added in 1700 -the same year that "Ways and Means" Lowndes was building his more commodious establishment at Winslow. Under a canopy on the roof was a bell which tolled the hours. This, no doubt, was to acquaint workers in the fields with the correct time; but the official guide to Congleton Rural District states that, prior to the erection of two non-conformist chapels in Smallwood, "services were held in the large kitchen at Overton Hall, hence the bell on the house". So the bell may have had a dual purpose.
The land which John Lowndes and his ancestors farmed was fairly extensive -one hundred and twenty-five acres of meadows, pastures and fields. Also contained in the estate was the Bear's Head Inn, with its outhouses, barns and stables, on the road from Warrington to Newcastle-under-Lyme (the present ASO); this old inn still stands, and is a splendid example of the black and white buildings for which Cheshire is famous.
So John Lowndes was comfortably endowed, and it seems probable that he lived happily at Overton with his wife Alice, until his death in 1633. They had eight children-four sons and four daughters. Of the sons, John, born in 1601, was the eldest; then came Randle, from whom sprang the line of the family that moved to Arthurlie in Scotland early in the eighteenth century, and thence to Brazil, to found the banking business that still thrives there. The third and fourth sons were Marmaduke and William, of whom noth'mg appears to be known; perhaps they died, as did so many others at that time, in childhood.
John and Randle, however, lived full lives and fathered children.
Randle's son, Matthew, died in 1687, and from him was descended another
Matthew, who established himself at Arthurlie in Renfrewshire in the
eighteenth century. He lived from 1705 to 1775, and had five sons-
John, William, Thomas, Matthew and James. William acquired an estate
at Upper Clapton, in Middlesex, and John, the eldest son, inherited
Arthurlie (Appendix 4).
John had two sons, Thomas and John. Thomas succeeded to his uncle's estate at Upper Clapton, and it is from him that the NobleLowndes branch of the family stems: the firm of Noble-Lowndes, a significant name in British insurance for many years, was sold out by Thomas's descendants in 1969.
John, Thomas's brother, sold Arthurlie to his uncle James. His son Henry-Bandinel, was born in 1810, and went to Rio de Janeiro when he was thirty-one years old. He married Rose Jane Steele, daughter of Andrew Steele, at the British Consulate in Rio on 16th August, 1854, and they had two sons, Henry Lowndes and John Henry Lowndes.
Henry became Count of Leopoldina, and died in 1931. His brother,
John Henry, had a son Vivian Lowndes, who married Alexyna de Azambuja:
they had three children, Donald, Augusta and John. Vivian, an octogenarian
in 1970, still goes each day to the headquarters of the banking business
that he created with his son Donald. His son, Donald, has been in active
control of the business and amongst other honours endowed upon him
(Knight of Malta and Knight Commander of the Order of Holy Sepulchre
of Jerusalem), he is one of the few Brazilians to hold the C.B.E. (since
Donald, eldest son of Vivian, married Dalva de Aguinaga: they have four children, Lilian, Daisy, Ronaldo and Monica. Ronaldo married and has three children: Andrea, Rodrigo and Renata.
John, eldest son of John Lowndes of Overton, and brother of Randle, died in 1656 at the age of fifty-five. He had married Alice, daughter of Robert Stevenson of Dalby, in Lincolnshire, and they had three children: a son Robert, and two daughters, Margaret and Anne. Robert, of course, inherited Overton-and, among other things, the gold signet ring that Humphrey Lowndes had left to his grandfather John, thirty years earlier. But he was granted very little time to enjoy his patrimony: he survived his father by only five years, and died in December, 1661. His children were five in number -three boys, William, Robert and John, and two girls, Alice and Anne. William, the eldest son, married, in 1680. his cousin Elizabeth Lowndes, daughter of Ralph Lowndes of Lea Hall, Middlewich, thus uniting two branches of the family: Ralph was a descendant of Roger Lowndes of Sandbach, who died in 1586, and was a younger son of the Overton line.
William and Elizabeth had nine children, some of whom died young (see Appendix 3). But three of them, John, Samuel and Thomas, made interesting careers for themselves away from Overton and the business of husbandry.
The eldest son, John, inherited Overton and Lea Hall from his father, and became Receiver General of the Land Tax at Chester. He died in 1734, and his daughter Sarah, born in 1716, inherited both estates. She married Awnsham Churchill, a member of the same family as John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough; and she eventually sold Overton to her uncle, Thomas Lowndes, and Lea to his brother, Robert Lowndes. Thomas paid her £4.000 for the Overton estate, and among, the interesting documents preserved at the Old Schools at Cambridge are the deeds of the sale, and Sarah's marriage settlement. Needless to say, the dowry she brought to her marriage with Awnsham Churchill was a substantial one.
Samuel, John's brother, joined the Royal Navy and became a lieutenant. He was still a young man - probably in his early twenties, and unmarried - when he died in 1707. He was serving on the Association, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel's famous flagship, when the great vessel foundered and sank off the Scillies, on 2.)nd October, 1707; with hundreds of others, including the Admiral, he was drowned. There was a fortune in jewels and gold bullion said to be on the ship, and recently efforts were made to recover some of the treasure. Divers brought up pewter plates, cannon and other articles, and these were auctioned at Sotheby's, bringing exaggeratedly high prices. Much reclamation still remains to be done.
Thomas Lowndes, the second of William's sons, was responsible for the bequest to Cambridge University of the Overton estate. He was baptised at Astbury on 7th December, 1692, and seems to have spent much of his childhood at Lea Hall. He became a clerk to the Treasury "by appointment of his relation, Mr. Secretary Lowndes" -nepotism, of course, was rife at this time -and he also received, from the lords proprietors, the patent of Provost-marshal of South Carolina. He never visited the colony, exercising his duties by proxy, and profiting handsomely from the financial dues. In 1732 Governor Johnson of South Carolina protested against the authorities "listening to Lowndes's insinuations - a man who, by the neglect of the late lords proprietors, had made the province his property to the extent of £4,000 or £5,000 by no other merit than a consumate assurance".
In the face of this pointed criticism, Thomas resigned his patent of Provost-marshal the following year, and then spent much time in perfecting his process for improving salt. English salt at this time was unquestionably bad, and large quantities had to be imported annually. Thomas, no doubt, became interested in the problems of processing during his years at Lea Hall, Middlewich, which lies very near the Cheshire salt beds.
But for a long time he met with little success, and although his specimens were highly praised by the Royal College of Physicians, the Admiralty consistently refused his terms: no doubt he kept them high, in an effort to redress the adverse balance caused by the loss of his easy income from South Carolina. In June, 1746, the House of Commons petitioned the King to instruct the Admiralty to accept the terms, and in September of that year Thomas published his pamphlet Brine salt improved: or a Method of making salt from Brine that shall be as good, or better, than French Bay Salt. He did not live to see the value of his method fully tested and confirmed; ill-health had dogged him for a number of years, and he died, on 12th May, 1748. He never married.
His will, preserved at Cambridge, was a significant one. He had, as we have seen, purchased Overton from his niece, Sarah, for £4,000. The will decreed that the estate, and all his other property in Cheshire, should pass to Cambridge University to found a chair of astronomy the Lowndean Astronomical Professorship, as it was to be called. The first professor, Roger Long, was appointed in 1750, and the chair still exists to this day.
Thomas seems to have been under no illusions about the importance of the gesture he was making, insofar as the advancement of scientific learning was concerned. He was exceptionally precise.- and indeed, grandiloquent - in stating the method by which the professor should be appointed; his will states: "Which Professor I will shall be for ever called Lowndes's Astronomical and Geometrical Professor in the University of Cambridge, and shall be from time to time chosen and appointed by the Lord High Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Great Britain, the Lord President of the Privy Council, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord High Treasurer, or the First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, the Lord Steward of the King's Household for the time being, or the major part of them, and I will and desire that proper Statutes, Rules and Ordinances in relation to the said Professorship, and the number of lectures to be read therein, and the times for such reading, and all other regulations for the perpetual Government of the said Professorship, shall be made by, and under the hands and seals of the above . . .".
One wonders whether Thomas really believed that his ambitious conditions would be fulfilled. Early in the nineteenth century another Thomas Lowndes, a grandson of his brother Robert, was moved to write, as an annotation to a pedigree, the following cynical comments on the award: "Though it is above 60 years since the Lowndeian Astronomical Professorship was founded by Thomas Lowndes, and though his will expressly states that lectures shall be given, it is made a mere sinecure, and not a lecture has ever been delivered. A warning to all those who have any idea about leaving their estates to idle priests. The estate left to the Professorship is about £500 per annum, being the last wreck of the Overton property, and had been in the Lowndes family above 400 years. The Professorship was left to the University of Cambridge, but is in the gift of five of the principal personages in the State, for which reason it is generally given to the man most useful to the Ministers for the time being, in contested elections for the University of Cambridge, and therefore ought to be called the political, not the astronomical Professorship; and could a sinecure astronomical Professorship be converted into an active political one, a great service would accrue to the rising Jacobin generation. If a Professor means a man who deals in professions only, but never acts, in that sense of the word the Lowndeian Professor is a Professor indeed".
Thomas Lowndes. who made the bequest to Cambridge, died, as we have
seen, in 1748, and was spared the disillusionment that his namesake
was to feel several decades later. His eldest brother, John, had inherited
Overton and Lea, and the estates had passed to John's daughter, Sarah,
who married Awnsham Churchill (page 20). Thomas purchased Overton from
Sarah, and his younger brother, Robert, puchased Lea. It was from Robert
that the Overton line of the family continuedJohn had no male issue,
and Thomas and Samuel (who was drowned on the Association) died unmarried.
Robert had three children by a second marriage-Edward, who served in the Marine Service of the East India Company; Robert, who inherited Lea, and later sold it to the Leicester family of Tabley; and Mary, who married Chadwick Gorst of Preston. After selling Lea Hall, Robert lived at Palterton, near Chesterfield, in Derbyshire; and in 1810 he commissioned the College of Arms to prepare a pedigree of the family. Francis Townsend, Windsor Herald, duly completed this task, and the pedigree concludes with the following legend: "To all and singular to whom these Presents shall come, We, the King's Heralds and pursuivants of the College of Arms, London, duly authorized under the Great Seal of Great Britain to Register and preserve the Genealogies and Arms of the nobility and gentry of this Kingdom, do hereby certify, that the within Pedigree of Robert Lowndes, formerly of Lea Hall in the County Palatine of Chester, now of Palterton, in the County of Derby, Esquire, deriving his descent from the Lady Margaret, last heir of the line of the Saxon kings, and also from King William the first, commonly called the Conqueror, is faithfully extracted from the records of our said College".
I have examined this pedigree closely. It is a completely fascinating document, tracing the descent of Alice Rode, wife of John Lowndes of Overton, from Edmund Ironsides, King of England, who died in 1017, through Malcolm, King of Scotland (whose father, Duncan, was murdered by Macbeth), Leofric and the Lady Godiva, Gundreda, the fifth daughter of William the Conqueror, Henry the First, King of England, and Hugh Kevelioc, Earl of Chester, who died in 1181. Unfortunately, from the point of view of my research, the Lowndes family only come into the pedigree at the point where John Lowndes of Overton married Alice Rode, somewhere about the year 1600. Nevertheless, it is a remarkably interesting document.
Thomas Lowndes, son of the Robert Lowndes who caused it to be prepared, added a great number of revealing notes to the pedigree, and his pungent and highly critical comments on the implementation of his great-uncle's will, establishing the Professorship at Cambridge, have already been quoted. Thomas added notes to many of the names on the pedigree, including his own. He describes himself as "formerly Gentleman Commoner of Pembroke College, Oxford, afterwards Member of the Middle Temple, London, and now of Hampstead Heath, in the County of Middlesex, Esq., B.A., living unmarried, 1810". He purchased Barrington Hall, in Essex (the connection between the families of Lowndes and Barrington is outlined on pages 15, 16) and he lived there for some time.
He had two brothers, Robert Lowndes, who died as an infant, and Milnes Lowndes, of Christ Church, Oxford, Barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple, who died unmarried at the age of 36, and who is buried in the Temple Church. These three were the last members of the direct line of the Overton family of Lowndes: none of them left issue, so the direct line ends at this point.Their aunt, Mary Lowndes, married Chadwick Gorst of Preston, and her grandsons assumed the surname and arms of Lowndes by royal licence, in compliance with the testamentary injunction of Mary's brother, Robert Lowndes of Palterton; this was to ensure that inheritance would carry with it the family name. Mary's great-grandson, Edwdrd Chaddock Lowndes, inherited Palterton and also lived at Castle Combe, Wiltshire. He was High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1874. His lovely manor house at Castle Combe is now used as a hotel, and among several armorial shields incorporated in the stonework of the fagade can still be seen the arms of the Lowndes family.
Surviving members of the Winslow branch of the family (and of Lowndes of Whaddon) are represented by Brigadier Montacute W. W. Selby-LowndeS, D.S.O., who now lives at Mundesley in Norfolk; it was through his kind offices that I eventually discovered the huge pedigree in the Buckinghamshire Record Office at Aylesbury. Other branches of the family - Lowndes-Stone of Brightwell Park, Oxford, and Lowndes of Chesham -also stemmed from this Winslow branch. And the members of the Lowndes family in Brazil are directly descended from the family of Lowndes of Arthurlie in Scotland, a line that descends from Randle Lowndes, second son of John Lowndes of Overton.
My own branch of the family, which has retained the surname of Lowndes, without addition, for centuries, is a colateral of the same Overton line. Its land and properties were never as extensive as those inherited by the elder sons of Overton, but its continuity has been preserved, and thy son can point to his direct descent from the family of John Lowndes of Overton, who was born about 1500, and through him, back to Guillaume de Lounde in the eleventh century. Nine hundred years of a family's history -with the exception of a gap between 1350 and 1500, from which period no documentary evidence has apparently survived -have been revealed, quite clearly, through the medium of miscellaneous collections of ordinary documents-wills, deeds, registers, pedigrees, etc.
Surely no more valid reason could be found for the careful preservation of these minor archives?
A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
- Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850. 1894. 1952.
- Cartlidge, J. E. G.: Newbold Astbury and its history, Congleton, 1915.
Chase, G. B.: Lowndes of South Carolina, Boston, 1876.
- Dictionary of National Biography (Articles on Lowndes).
- Essex Archoological Society: Transactions, Vol. 1, 1878.
- Essex Review, Vol. 31, 1922.
- Harleian Society Publications, 1868-.
- Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society: Transactions, Vols. 2, 4. 15, 189 209 25.
- Lipscomb: History and antiquities of the county of Buckinghamshire, 4 Vols., 1847-1931.
- Marshall, G. W.: Genealogist's guide, 1903.
- Wagner, Sir A. R.: English genealogy, 1960.
- Wagner, Sir A. R.: English ancestry (abridged version of English genealogy), 1961.
A response from Ngaire Lowndes:
"Thomas succeeded to his uncle's estate at Upper Clapton, and it
is from him
that the NobleLowndes branch of the family stems: the firm of Noble-Lowndes,
a significant name in British insurance for many years, was sold out by
Thomas's descendants in 1969."
Well, gee, thanks, Lowndes of Overton I realise this booklet was
produced largely for the benefit of my distant cousin Donald Lowndes of Rio
(a very kind man, who with his wonderful ebullient wife Dalva gave us a most
memorable holiday in Brazil when I was 12), but hey, what about the Canadian
Lowndeses? The New Zealand Lowndeses? The Australians? Why do I get the
feeling that the writer knew little and cared less about the rest of the
world-wide family? I am affronted!
The background to the 'selling out' of the very considerable insurance
business of Noble Lowndes Insurance was simple: in 1969, Noble was an old
man and retired to Jersey, where he had bought the Seigneurship of the Parish
of St. Johns. My father, Roy Lucas Lowndes (Noble's youngest brother) was
Chairman of the group of companies, and much beset by the appalling state of
the economy at the time. The firm, while not in difficulties, was certainly
not thriving under the ministrations of the Labour government, and the level
of taxes imposed was becoming intolerable. My father, who at the time had
four young children, was in a position where, had he died, the death duties
and taxes on the estate would have left his family impoverished. In order to
provide security for the family and the firm alike, the only option was to
allow Hill Samuel, a very large company, to acquire the Noble Lowndes group.
This happened in 1969 and my family moved abroad to a less punitive country,
and thereafter returned to New Zealand, where my father lived happily until
his death in 1997, at the considerable age of 86. He had survived immense
poverty as a child, four years as a Prisoner of War at the Germans' hands
during WWII, and had worked his socks off with his brothers Noble and Colin
to nurture the family business and provide for his family.
I'd be interested to know what, if any, information exists about Joseph
Lowndes, my great-grandfather, who emigrated to New Zealand in the mid-19th
Perhaps I shall spend my dotage refuting that very slighting reference to my
immediate ancestors and writing a substantial appendix to 'Lowndes of
Ngaire, you are welcome to add to this document - Mike..
Please send corrections and any other Lowndes-related
material to mikelowndesATyahoo.co.uk
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