William Lower

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Sir William Lower (1570 – 12 April 1615)[1] was an English astronomer from the early telescopic period, and a Member of Parliament.

He was born in Cornwall, and after studying at Exeter College, Oxford, he married and settled in South-west Wales. In 1607 he observed Halley's comet and took a number of careful measurements which he communicated to Thomas Harriot, by which it was determined that the comet was following a curved course. Lower suggested that the comet's orbit obeyed Kepler's laws (instead of being an atmospheric phenomenon or following a rectilinear path, as was generally thought at the time)

Using a telescope that had been provided by Harriot, Lower made a number of observations of the moon, and noted that its surface appeared irregular and "like a tart that my cooke made me last weeke". Similar observations were published by Galileo a few weeks later.

Lower represented Bodmin in the 1601 parliament, and Lostwithiel from 1604 to 1611. He was knighted in 1603.[2]

Lower married Penelope Perrot, the daughter of Sir Thomas Perrot and Dorothy Devereux, by whom he had three sons and a daughter.[3][4][5] After Lower's death Penelope (née Perrot) married secondly Sir Robert Naunton, by whom she had a daughter Penelope, who married Philip Herbert, 5th Earl of Pembroke.


  1. ^ Jones, Bryn. "Sir William Lower". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  2. ^ Alumni Oxoniensis 1500-1714 "Lower, (Sir) William, of Cornwall, gen. fil. EXETER COLL., matric. 10 June 1586, aged 16; of Treventy, co. Carmarthen, astronomer; student of Middle Temple 1589 (as son and heir of Thomas, of Winnow, Cornwall, esq.); knighted at Theobalds 11 May 1603; M.P. Bodmin 1601, Lostwithiel 1604-11; died 12 April 1615; brother of Alexander and Nicholas; father of Thomas 1643."
  3. ^ Lower, Sir William (c.1570-1615), of St. Winnow, Cornwall and Trefenti (Tra'Venti), Llanfihangel Abercowin, Carmarthenshire, History of Parliament Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  4. ^ Trefenty, Dyfed Archaeological Trust Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  5. ^ Roche 2004.