He was born at Whitehaven, Cumberland, the son of Strickland Lowry, a portrait painter. The family settled in Worcester, and Wilson Lowry, as a boy, left home to work as a house painter in London and Arundel, Sussex. On returning home is received some instruction in engraving from a local craftsman.
He went to London at the age of 18 with an introduction to the print seller John Boydell, who gave him work and introduced him to William Blizard, the surgeon. Blizard encouraged Lowry to become a surgeon and for four years he undertook training, but abandoned it.
Lowry received training at the Royal Academy and worked for a number of engravers, as well as Boydell. Lowry developed a number of special instruments to assist his work: about 1790 he devised a ruling machine; in 1801 a device for generating elliptical curves; in 1806 another for making perspective drawings. Lowry was the first engraver to use diamond points and to discover the composition of a corrosive fluid for biting the lines into steel plates.
Lowry specialised in making engraving of architectural and mechanical topics, and excelled in perspective views of machinery. His work appears in Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, and the Journal of the Society of Arts, Wilkins's Magna Graecia (1807), and Vitruvius (1812), Peter Nicholson's Principles of Architecture (1795–98), and Architectural Dictionary (1819), George Crabb's Technological Dictionary (1823), and the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana. Lowry's most famous work in this field was undoubtedly the work he did for Rees's Cyclopaedia between 1802 and 1819, including contributing articles, but did work for other encyclopaedias including Pantologia and the British Encyclopaedia.
He married firstly a Miss Porter: they had two daughters, one of whom, Matilda, (who became Mrs Hemming) was a portrait painter. He married secondly Rebecca Delvalle (1761–1848) a mineralogist: they had a son Joseph Wilson Lowry and a daughter Delvalle, who married John Varley the landscape painter.
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