About Lowther
Lowther Estate
Woodland & landscape
The Lowther family
Lowther family archive
Is your name Lowther?


The Lowther family


The Lowthers are one of the oldest of recorded English armigerous families, both their yellow arms – Or Six Annulets Sable – and the family tree are documented from the late 12th century. The name is mentioned in grants of land from the time of Henry II. Sir Hugh de Lowther, Attorney General to Edward I, was the first of the family to be knighted and in 1283 was granted the licence to ‘impark’ land at Lowther. Every successive head of the Lowther family through the Middle Ages was knighted, often fighting for the King in Scotland. They served in parliament as MPs and later as peers for 600 years from the 13th to the 19th century, a remarkable tradition. Their industrial development at Whitehaven and agricultural improvements at Lowther were among the most impressive of the industrial age. As patrons they helped to introduce classical architecture to the North West in the late 17th century and at Whitehaven laid out the first planned town in England since the Middle Ages. From the 17th century onwards they were collectors of pictures, silver, sculpture and books. They were also keen sportsmen, being closely associated with horses, with traditional local sports and boxing, to which they lent their name to the prize of the Lonsdale belt.


The 5th Earl (right) in arctic expedition gear (left); 'Wicked Jimmy' (right).



John, 1st Viscount Lonsdale in the late 17th century was the founder of the Lowther dynasty in Cumberland and Westmorland. He rebuilt Lowther Hall and laid out the huge gardens whose outlines still exist. James, 1st Earl of Lonsdale was by inheritance one of the richest men in England in the 18th century and used his wealth to buy land and political influence – for which he became known as ‘Wicked Jimmy’.  William, 1st Earl of Lonsdale of the second creation, built Lowther Castle and was the founder of the modern family. The most famous and also the longest lived Earl of Lonsdale was Hugh, 5th Earl, the ‘Yellow Earl’ under whom Lowther Castle had its Edwardian heyday and swansong. In 1953 James, 7th Earl of Lonsdale inherited crippling debts but was the saviour of the Lowther estates. He dismantled the castle, retaining only the shell, sold the materials, developed forestry, agriculture, the Lowther Horse Driving Trials and expanded the estate which remains the largest in the north west of England. He died in 2006 and was succeeded by his eldest son Hugh Clayton, the present and 8th Earl of Lonsdale.



The 5th Earl of Lonsdale, the 'Yellow Earl' (left); the 7th Earl with HM The Queen in at Lowther Show 2005.