James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale

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James Lowther, 1st Earl Lonsdale (Richard Cosway)

James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale (5 August 1736 – 24 May 1802) was an English country landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons for 27 years from 1757 to 1784, when he was raised to the Peerage of Great Britain as Earl of Lonsdale.

Life[edit]

Lowther Castle in the early 18th century

The son of Robert Lowther of Maulds Meaburn, Westmorland and Catherine Pennington, he was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge.[1]

He succeeded his father in 1745 and to the baronetcy and the estates, including Lowther Castle, of his great-uncle Henry Lowther, 3rd Viscount Lonsdale on 6 March 1751. He also inherited the estates of Sir William Lowther, 3rd Baronet of Marske on 15 April 1756 and the estates of his cousin Sir James Lowther, 4th Baronet of Whitehaven in 1755.[2]

Lowther exercised influence over a number of "rotten" or "pocket" boroughs, including Appleby, a classic example of this type of constituency. In 1761 he was credited with securing the return of eight MPs—two each for Cumberland, Westmorland, and Cockermouth, and one each for Appleby and Carlisle.[3] Later, in 1781, he secured the election of William Pitt the Younger as member for Appleby.[4]

He married Mary Crichton-Stuart, daughter of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and Mary Wortley-Montagu, 1st Baroness Mount Stuart on 7 September 1761 and had a string of mistresses. He fell in love with the daughter of one of his tenants and made her his mistress keeping her in luxury. When she died he could not endure to have her buried and the body remained lying in bed until the increasing putrefaction became unbearable. He then had her body placed in a glass topped coffin that was placed in a cupboard. Eventually her body was buried in Paddington cemetery.

He was created Earl of Lonsdale on 24 May 1784 and Viscount Lowther on 26 October 1797, with special remainder to his third cousin Sir William Lowther, 2nd Baronet of Little Preston.[2]

On 9 June 1792 he fought a duel with a Captain Cuthbert of the Guards, when the latter refused to let the former's carriage pass through Mount Street in London where some rioting had been taking place. The Earl asked him if he knew who he was which this led to an unpleasant exchange of words following which the Earl felt obliged to challenge the Captain to a duel the next morning. A pistol ball passed through the flap of Cuthbert's coat but after the exchange of fire both men were unhurt. The matter was concluded with a handshake.

He was variously known as "Wicked Jimmy", the "Bad Earl", the "Gloomy Earl" and "Jimmy"[5][6] or "Jemmy Grasp-all, Earl of Toadstool".[7][8]

Death and succession[edit]

He died in 1802, having had no children by his wife. His earldom and baronetcy became extinct but he was succeeded as Viscount Lowther, according to the special remainder, by his third cousin William Lowther, 2nd Viscount Lowther, who was later (1807) advanced to Earl of Lonsdale of the second creation. The latter, a coal magnate, also inherited Lowther Castle, which he rebuilt between 1806 and 1814.

The Earl and the Wordsworth family[edit]

Lowther had accumulated debts to his solicitor, John Wordsworth, the father of William Wordsworth. Although Wordsworth worked for Lowther, Lowther never paid Wordsworth for his various expenses, which amounted to ₤4,000 from 1763 until Wordsworth's death in 1783. This debt was finally discharged after his death by his successor.[9]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lowther, Sir James, Bart. (LWTR752SJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ a b "LOWTHER, Sir James, 5th Bt. (1736-1802), of Lowther, nr. Penrith, Westmld". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ Beckett, J. V.. “Lowther, James, earl of Lonsdale (1736–1802).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, Accessed 4 Nov. 2014 (subscription required)
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lonsdale, Earls of" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 987.
  5. ^ Hilton, Boyd (2006). A mad, bad, and dangerous people?: England, 1783-1846. New Oxford history of England. Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-19-822830-9.
  6. ^ Kümin, Beat A. (2009). Political space in pre-industrial Europe. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 104. ISBN 0-7546-6072-9.
  7. ^ Caufield, Catherine (1981). The emperor of the United States of America and other magnificent British eccentrics. Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 122. ISBN 0-7100-0957-7.
  8. ^ Davenport-Hines, Richard Peter Treadwell (1998). Gothic: four hundred years of excess, horror, evil, and ruin. Fourth Estate. p. 92. ISBN 1-85702-498-2.
  9. ^ Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth: A Biography, The Early Years 1770-1803. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. p. 8
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir John Pennington, Bt
Sir William Fleming, Bt
Member of Parliament for Cumberland
1757–1761
With: Sir John Pennington, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir John Pennington, Bt
Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bt
Preceded by
Sir George Dalston, Bt
Robert Lowther
Member of Parliament for Westmorland
1761–1763
With: John Upton
Succeeded by
John Upton
Robert Lowther
Preceded by
Sir John Pennington, Bt
Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bt
Member of Parliament for Cumberland
1762–1768
With: Sir John Pennington, Bt 1762–1768
Henry Curwen 1768
Succeeded by
Henry Curwen
Henry Fletcher
Preceded by
Sir George Macartney
George Johnstone
Member of Parliament for Cockermouth
1769–1774
With: George Johnstone
Succeeded by
George Johnstone
Fletcher Norton
Preceded by
John Robinson
Thomas Fenwick
Member of Parliament for Westmorland
1774–1775
With: Sir Michael le Fleming, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Michael le Fleming, Bt
James Lowther
Preceded by
Henry Curwen
Henry Fletcher
Member of Parliament for Cumberland
1774–1784
With: Henry Fletcher
Succeeded by
Henry Fletcher
William Lowther
Preceded by
Sir Merrick Burrell, Bt
Peter Burrell
Member of Parliament for Haslemere
1780
With: Edward Norton
Succeeded by
Edward Norton
Walter Spencer Stanhope
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir John Pennington, Bt
Lord Lieutenant of Westmorland
1758–1802
Succeeded by
The Viscount Lowther
Preceded by
The Earl of Egremont
Lord Lieutenant of Cumberland
1759–1802
Vacant
Title last held by
The Earl of Egremont
Custos Rotulorum of Cumberland
1765–1802
Vice-Admiral of Cumberland
1765–1802
Vacant
Title next held by
The Earl of Lonsdale
Vacant
Title last held by
Sir James Lowther, Bt
Vice-Admiral of Westmorland
1765–1802
Vacant
Peerage of Great Britain
New title Viscount Lowther
1797–1802
Succeeded by
William Lowther
Earl of Lonsdale
1784–1802
Extinct
Baronetage of Nova Scotia
Preceded by
Henry Lowther
Baronet
(of Lowther)
1751–1802
Extinct