James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale
James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale (5 August 1736 – 24 May 1802) was an English politician and landowner. He was a Member of Parliament for over twenty years before, in 1784, he was raised to the Peerage of Great Britain as Baron Lowther.
The son of Robert Lowther and Catherine Pennington, he was educated at the University of Cambridge. He 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.
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 he 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.
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.
The Earl and the Wordsworth family
He 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 by his heir, William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale of the second creation, in 1802.
- 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)
- 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.
- Kümin, Beat A. (2009). Political space in pre-industrial Europe. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 104. ISBN 0-7546-6072-9.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth: A Biography, The Early Years 1770-1803. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. p. 8
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