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The Lowe Blarney Gene

The Blarney DNA Stone

You know how you can often recognize the emotional character of a family group.   Lowes give new meaning to blarney in their family stories.   They're aggrandized like noone else's, and the mythology shows a complete lack of any sense of the fantastic.   Other bipolar family groups are content to believe that back in the beginning of the mists of time their ancestors were the Angevin Kings of England, or Phoenicians, or whatever.   Not so the Lowes.


From a fourth cousin;

I don't know who that could be.  The librarian in the law library at Trinity College in Dublin, and Seamus McCarty of Enniskillen, both checked, among other places in a reference book of every judge that has ever been in Ireland since the 13th century.   No Nathaniel Lowe has EVER been a judge, anywhere in Ireland, atleast, not beyond the role of simple justice of the peace.   Nathaniel was part of the naming pattern of an entire large family group of Lowes, some of whom were gentry, and some of whom were attorneys, and it is conceivable that someone found a picture of one of them in a barrister's robes and wig.   (The current occupant of the Lowville estate, who says he isn't a Lowe but is fascinated with the Lowe story, said there actually was a judge named Nathaniel Lowe, and he is sending me what he's talking about - and I never received it.  In fact, when he realized that I'm not as nuts as he is, he broke off communication.)   

Now, as for our 3x great grandfather, Nathaniel Lowe, his marriage record, Royal Irish Constabulary record, and death record show that he was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, at the rank of subconstable, for his entire working life, and died a "police pensioner".    He may have been who was buying objects with Lowe crests in bucket shops and handing them down more than one line of descent as heirlooms, or maybe that was his son Henry Nathaniel, who was in touch with his siblings.

On to our  great-great grandfather, Henry Nathaniel Lowe.   From different fourth cousins.   

Then, according to my first cousin who was having a manic moment, Henry Nathaniel was run out of Ireland for being a Mason.

Henry Nathaniel Lowe probably was educated at the elite school, because it doubled as the common school for the boys of Enniskillen.   He never attended Trinity College in Dublin - according to Trinity College in Dublin.    He was never an attorney.    He was a law clerk, then a court clerk, and a commissioner for taking signed documents from people - the title looks similar to that of Justice of the Peace, but he was closer to a notary public.   (To be sure that last fooled both me and Seamas McCarty, until a Masonic organization sent me a letter he'd written on his own stationary that showed his actual title.)  He managed the properties of the Enniskillen Corporation, a group of local gentry, and others, as agent, which may have given him standing with the local gentry, and that may have been why he did it.   The system wasn't rational, and for some purposes a landless person could qualify as gentry by managing the property of landed gentry.    His main economic activiity seems to have been running a general store, which sold every sort of item and from which his wife sold shoes and boots.    He was in the Masons, he was Worshipful Whatever of his lodge at one point, but he was never Grand Master of Ireland.   Not even close.   I have a complete list of all the grand masters and deputy and assistant grand masters o Ireland for a large period of time that encompasses Henry Nathaniels entire life.    Noone in Enniskillen or in Ireland in the 1870's to 1880's was ever run out of the country for being a Mason.   Masons were the Anglo-Irish gentry.   

He waxed hypomanic in the last years of the 1870's; he ran a printing press out of the store, with which for several years he published one of the local newspapers, and a directory of the area still used as a historical reference.   He was never a "Newspaper man", though his son was a newspaper reporter.   He certainly slept less than six hours a night.

 Then he fell apart.   He got into a battle with somebody, over some kind of personal affront, and it went to court.   He was found to have misappropriated some of the money he collected in rents for the Enniskillen Corporation, and couldn't produce the money.   His wife died of TB.      The gentlemen of the Enniskillen Corporation paid him a visit, and reported him to be so severely depressed that he was quite unable to get out of bed.   He went bankrupt, and his business enterprises went bankrupt.  He himself ran away to America, leaving his 65 year old mother to explain his absence in court and sell his things.    Eventually he returned to the far end of Ireland, where he got another job as a court clerk, somehow, and rejoined the Masons.    Years later his son's account of this was that he made a great deal of money, which he lost and was robbed of.    My great grandfather problably left Ireland for good in 1881, when he was 16, and saw his father for the last time when he returned to Ireland by 1889.  

From my mother: the sacred Lowe family crest.   Our great grandfather was the first to mention it; it was one of a number of revered family heirlooms that were lost.   My mother went to great lengths to try to get this image reproduced and properly drawn out or whatever.    A fourth cousin sent me an imprint of her stationary; it looks as though it was handed down from Nathaniel, but it is possible that our 2x great grandfather, who did have issues with his mental health and did some serious doodling with the family history at the Office of Heraldry or whatever, passed them around among his siblings.   They appear to have come from a bucket shop.  

After consulting books on heraldry in the Humanities library at the local university, here is my own rendition, with all of my wonderful graphic arts skills.


To fully appreciate this, one should know that "Spero Meliora" means "We hope for better".   This motto was cited by my great grandfather, who was living with his second wife in Manhattan near Greenwich Village and working in a record store, in a letter that had tears on the last page, shortly before he died.  The second wife, who may have known little about the son by the first marriage, let alone correspondence with him, did not inform my grandfather his father had died, and my grandfather never knew what became of his father - though he'd have learned more if it had occurred to him to research where he last knew his father to be living.   He was clearly never told his father had remarried, and he had to swear not to tell his mother where his father was before relatives would connect him with his father.

Hysterically funny though the resulting cartoon is, this and wolfs' heads without the arrow through the neck were the standard theme of Lowe crests and coats of arms throughout England.   The medieval form of the name around Worcestershire was de la Lawe or Atte Lawe.  Lawe was Saxon for hill.   It meant of the hill or at a hill.   Possibly long ago an ancestor held a hill in battle; and long before my line went to Ireland, Worcestershire records are full of evidence that this family had the temperament for it.  For instance, when land first began to be enclosed, during high medieval times, the local aristocracy would raid each others' land with small warbands composed partly of yeomen, and guess who took part in such a raid.   

However, it doesn't belong to Nathaniel's actual ancestral Lowe family, in County Westmeath, not even if they're improbably claiming a coat of arms and/ or crest of a family of Lowe gentry in Worcestershire that makes the same untrue claim to descent from followers of William the Conqueror who were given land in Worcestershire.   (Sure, and then they Saxonized their name?   LOL.  But the common thread of blarney raises the question of whether they could be related.)     This crest belongs to a Lowe family in three counties further east.   They were, to be sure, granted a coat of arms very similar to that granted to the Lowe gentry of Worcestershire.   Now, it isn't the actual crest that my family had; theirs was a simple embosser, and the spear was arranged wrong.   It was standing up above the head in a quite dignified manner!   

Now, the actual crest makes more sense in light of the true story of our actual ancestor Barry Lowe holding Christendom against the Catholics of Kilbeggan.  Man was insane, and he acted like it was Armageddon.   This crest is how he saw himself.  Several generations later it was Samuel Handy, who may have been Barry's direct descendant, galloping around Kilbeggan and Tyrrellspass with the Wesley brothers, making to defend the Christian world against Armageddon and demon Catholics.  (According to one of several tales in circulation.  It is known only that his Low mother was closely related to one of the Ebenezer's who exchanged land with the Handy's,  the Handy's lived in the Kilbeggan area, closest to the Lowe's of Newtown-low, an Ebenezer who was son of Barry Low was disinherited, and one of several stories in circulation is that all Lowes of the Moate area are descended from him.  Another story is that they're all descended from Barry's uncle George, who had seven sons, one of whom was Ebenezer.)

Local histories and church histories written by Catholics visualize Barry Lowe a little differently.

Other fourth cousins' reaction to all of this; I'm not surprised by what you are finding.   My mother always said that your people were trying to make more of themselves than they were.


But this is only the tip of the blarney stone.  This is from letters by my great grandfather, Henry Nathaniel's son Joseph, to my grandfather, in 1923   The first passage tells us something about his own character, and also that of some of his wife's nephews.   My great grandfather at that time lived in Manhattan, just north of Greenwich Village and worked in a record shop.  In 1908 to 1910 he lived in a house full of theater person in Boston, as did his second wife.  I could find no record that he divorced the first wife before remarrying.   He wrote bawdy plays and light opera.   

"Dropped out"?   In California?   Albert did indeed go to California, actually to Hollywood, I think; I located him there.   Not he was successful there.  These people were the roaring 20's version of beatniks or whatever.   Unstable, and flaky.    Joseph Lowe had married a woman from a family not unlike his own in mental health history.   His first wife - he had more than one, and never went through the formality of divorcing the first one - died in a state psychiatric hospital.   Her father, an accountant who styled himself a "collector" when older, died of severe alcoholism.   Her brother disappeared, and noone has ever shared the story of what happened to him; my grandfather was never told he'd existed, nor a sister who was a laborer in Montreal all her life and never married.   A published genealogy of a related family says only that he was his mother's only son.   

Neither of these Lowes were related to ours, and our Lowes were from Worcestershire, not Suffolk.   Lowe ancestors of ours in County Westmeath were overactive in vigorously persecuting Catholics in the 17th and 18th centuries, and one has to wonder if Joseph knew this, told us how he really felt about it, but didn't pass on the story itself.   Or maybe he didn't know the story, but sensed that something was wrong in the past of this family.   Schizoid-seeming ambivalence about the family history does seem to be a Lowe hallmark.    

Only piece of truth in this story is that Nathaniel Lowe really married Catherine Allen in County Galway.   Lord only knows where he got the rest of it.   Catherine wasn't even 16 when they married; she was 20.   Nathaniel Lowe did not found the Irish Lowe family; his family, which is not the only Lowe family in Ireland, was already a century and a half old in Ireland when he was born.  

Now, get ready for this one - it's a true gem.

No, they're no relation to the Scottish Allan family of Galloway and the Aran Islands, in Scotland, who began as servants before founding the steamship line.   My great grandfather, who was in his mid 50's at the time, and had been educated in Ireland, managed to confuse the two pairs of places.   .   


You'd expect the Lowe's most closely related to us to be the most emotionally like us.    Grin.   So here goes with the Blarney Trail.

Unfortunately, the only thing that can be said of the following is that it appears to come from descendants of a Lowe family that settled near Moate in the early 18th century.   Our Nathaniel does strongly appear to have come from near Moate, but since most Lowes were not very far away from Moate, and the most far flung Lowes in the area had known dealings with the place, it isn't possible to firmly conclude that by knowing that JP Clibborn sponsored him for the Royal Irish Constabulary.

This from I think Willie Small to Don Lowe, both being descendants of Robert Lowe of Cornaher, who was born and raised his children on a good sized rented farm in Lurgan and then died in Cornaher, and wasn't the only Lowe who wasn't of the branch that owned that estate that spent time there.   Otherwise it was from Don Lowe, whose father or grandfather came to Bear Creek, Canada.   Robert Cornaher cannot be tied to the family that settled where he was born and raised his children with existing information, but most surely belong to it.   Of course, since all of the Lowe's in that location rented their land, that could be coincidence.  It wasn't as if there was no land anywhere else for Lowes to rent, and there were actually a number of pockets of them in the area.   

The following appeared in "The Westmeath Independent" "sometime in the 1950's"; it "is believed to have been written by one of the Nash family (a Lowe descendant).    The Nash family were descended from John Lowe of Ballycahilroe, of Griffiths in 1854; his daughter, Isabella Lowe Nash, traced the family to the Lowe who settled in the little group of townlands south of Moate in the 18th century.   She also placed Nathaniel Lowe of Lowville in this family, and probably this is more Lowe mythologizing.   One of the family researchers reported that Nathaniel Lowe's father was Eusebius of County Dublin as shown by a deed.    He was of the Westmeath Lowe family group.    But his socioeconomic status, and that of Eusebius, were both far above that of supposed father James who settled in the little group of townlands south of Moate in the 18th century.   It is believed in Moate that the Lurgan Lowe family was a descendant of Barry Lowe and his father William, through the son who Barry Lowe disowned.  It is somewhat mysterious.  In the 1820's this family were renters of very small plots of land, yet before the end of the century one of them owned a sizeable plot at Cornaher, possibly the Cornaher estate itself.  That there was a link is supported by the frequent reports that Moate Lowes were buried in the churchyard at the parish of Kilkenny West, which was where Nathaniel Lowe's main Westmeath land was.   Both people said to have been buried at Kilkenny West in quite colorful and detailed family stories have actual graves at the churchyard in Moate, and I've not seen any transcript of the graves at Kilkenny West, so it's impossible to know what to believe.   Nash family members were buried at Kilkenny West and didn't live there; they did live near Athlone.   The two people said to be buried at Kilkenny West are Robert Lowe of Lurgan and Cornaher, and John Lowe of Ballycahillroe, and while some lines on Isabella Lowe Nash's family chart variously aren't followed at all and make no sense, these two men can't have been very closely related, even if they did occupy adjacent blocks of land.   To add to the confusion, church records of Robert's family are supposed to be in the rectories at Clara and Tullamore, in northern Kings/ Offaly County.   Lowe families lived down there in the early to mid 19th century, who can't be connected to Isabella Lowe Nash's chart at all.

OK, let's see.   There were three brothers.   Their father came from Worcestershire.   They did not come to Ireland before that, but 19th century writers evaluated the story about William Strongbow.   This means it is very OLD Westmeath Lowe mythology.   It is clear that the Westmeath Lowes knew they were from Worcestershire, and at some point adopted the false Norman ancestry myth of a probably unrelated family of Worcestershire gentry named Lowe, who were actually Saxon, like all other Lowes in Worcestershire.   It's the first I've heard of the notion that the name Lowe came from the French word for water; that is more creative than usual.   Most Lowe's prefer to believe that their name was Germanic for wolf, and actually, it was Saxon for hill, and was pronunced that way (Hrlawe), into the 17th century - even in Westmeath.  Since Normans never Saxonized their names, there were no Norman Lowes in Worcestershire.   Of the three brothers, George died fighting with William III, and his brother Wiliam, a major, built a great house at Newtown.   His son Barry, who was atleast half mad, was in charge of supplies for William III, was never mayor of London, and was infamous for terrorizing the Catholic clergy and peasantry on his lands.   He was probably father of the aforementioned young man who was disinherited for marrying against his parents' wishes.   This however is only one of two equally vague accounts of the ancestry of the 19tth century Lowes of Westmeath.   Barry did not build Cornaher; it was built early in the 19th century by the Vignoles family, who inherited the land via a Lowe daughter, descended from Barry's uncle.   Lowe's still live in the area today, and the Nash's have always known this.    

The name Lowe derived from the French word l'eau for water?   That's a completely new one.   

It isn't altogether unlikely that John Lowe of Ballycahilroe suffered from delusions of grandeur, but these don't seem to have been reflected in his manner of living, nor in his treatment of other people.   The first part of the piece is a biography of the man.   He had a large farm, but he shared everything he had and then some, and tended the sick; both animals, and impoverished people.   Twice during the great famine he took in families of starving, sick Catholics and nursed them back to health.   He "lived and died a poor man".    His problem solving style strongly resembles my grandfather's in his complex and drone-like working through of how to follow rule-like constructs of what he had to do.   Food was handed out the back window, and he slept in the barn with his patients.   

General Irish attitude on ancestry, reported by Shirley and Don Lowe in a long letter to Bernice Buell , in 1992, about their visit to Moate:

That attitude about specific factual information sets up genealogical confusion and concatenation of stories and generations to happen, and it could be the case that Protestant Irish families in general take a mythological approach to family history that can emphasize fantastic stories.   On the other hand, it is not clear if Shirley and Don Lowe were mostly getting this from Lowes and Lowe relations in the area.    This could simply be the outlook of a large and dysfunctional family group.    I have other families that spent time in Ireland; one passed down no family history, and the others passed down only specific factual information.    One of them is actually the Clibborn family of Moate.   Most of the people Don and Shirley Lowe reported contact with were members of the Lowe family group.   It's hard to say how much of it is Irish and how much of it is Lowes.    

Supporting thinking that some of it is Irish, is my experience on some of the Ireland county genealogy lists at Rootsweb.    It's hard to figure the purpose for some of these lists' existence, because it's against the list members' norms to do genealogy.    I got into real trouble on them for having what others found the temerity to want specific factual information, and to know specifically how to find it, and my own posts and fighting with me was the only activity I saw take place.    I've yet to get anyone on any list, for instance, to tell me how to find land deeds, though a few people gave me the vague information that deeds are kept in a registry in Dublin (they did name it).   That doesn't tell me in Texas how to research deeds there.   The really weird thing is that it is specifically mostly people of Protestant, mostly Anglo-Irish, descent who are acting like this, and they are justifying themselves in terms of Irish culture.   Now, someone at a local history society finally told me how to research deeds in Ireland; that deeds registry in Dublin has indexes, and she told me that LDS has films of the indexes.   Catholics at libraries and historical societies in Ireland, with thick Gaelic accents who often are hard put to speak English and can barely be understood in that language, tell me specific answers to questions all of the time.   

Getting still weirder, Don and Shirley Lowe visited this registry of deeds in Dublin, wandered around, reported that the place has no deeds older than 1850, which isn't true, and completely missed the indexes.  

It can be said that my grandfather would probably have done the same thing, if he found the registry of deeds, which he probably would not have.    My grandfather's strategies of trying to find his mother's father never included looking at the records in the city where he knew his father was.    He wrote a letter here and there, and learned that his grandfather had once owned vacation property far from Montreal where he was, and that he'd worked for a certain accounting firm for a long time.   Then he wrote a letter or two to people in the place where the vacation home temporarily was and that person didn't know anything, so he reported that he'd looked very hard for him in this other place and found no trace of him.   

Actually his father was born and grew up in the city where my grandfather's parents married.   More children were born to his grandparents at the same church than my grandfather knew of.   His grandfather had two brothers and two sisters, and the one brother who can be found as an adult, witnessed his wedding at the same church.   Everybody who died late enough, which included his great grandfather, was buried at the most obvious cemetery.   All of them were found in the expected places in the city directories and tax records.   And it was such a rare name (Cauthers), that only a couple of dozen people in North America, mostly descended from three emigrants to this continent, have ever shared it.    My grandfather would have found that one late resident in Montreal belonged to the Ontario Cauthers family, and all the rest were his.   My grandfather was very bright AND couldn't think logically to save himself, unless he were pursuing a business arrangement.   He was exceptionally good at that, and usually he both thought outside of the box of where a needed resource was logically likely to be, where noone else had, and found creative ways to go after it.    

There was more strangeness in the Cauthers family.   Rosannah Cauthers, widow of John Cauthers, a blacksmith of Montreal, died and was buried in 1824, and the death recorded at one of the Presbyterian churches where her son, Samuel Cauthers, married Jane Bane/ Cabane.   This Jane consistently signed with her mark, and every record had a different version of her name, which probably began life as Bayne or McBain or McBean.    Cauthers is a corruption of Carruthers, a clan of border reivers in southwestern Scotland, and Jane was clearly also of Scotch-Irish stock - but probably not 100% of Scottish stock.   Samuel and Jane had five children; Samuel, John, Rosannah, another girl, and Thomas.   Four of these children were baptized in assorted Presbyterian churches.   Edward Griffin, who was a co-owner of a rising hardware firm and iron manufactury in Montreal, witnessed the marriage and the baptisms.   Samuel was a blacksmith; I don't have where he worked, but I can guess.   Samuel was born in Belfast, Ireland, and this group of hardware merchants who were primarily from the Belfast area were instrumental in founding the Unitarian church in Montreal, to which both sons, Samuel and John belonged.  Samuel and John both worked for this hardware company, all of their traceable adult lives, in John's case until he retired.   John Cauthers, who characterized himself in old age as "a collector", died of severe alcoholism.  He must be seen to be appreciated.  I included his wife, who together with her husband hardly presents a picture of a household of normally spirited parents possessed of spines.  

 Now, Samuel's and Jane's two youngest children were baptized at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Montreal, and then Jane's death was recorded there, and the death of her youngest daughter not all that long after she was rebaptized a Catholic was also recorded there.  Jane was evidently a troubled woman.  There was also a Charles Bain, a laborer, who attended that cathedral, and especially given the bitter ethnic and religious divisions that characterized Montreal at the time, it seems very unlikely that he was not Jane's brother.  Samuel was buried in the main Protestant cemetery, by himself.   John Cauthers had a son and four daughters.   One of the daughters can't be traced, though she may be Harriet Cauthers a laborer of Montreal.   The boy, Edmund, became a shoemaker, an odd choice for the son of an accountant whose brother was also an accountant.   He moved to northeastern Massachusetts, and eventually became a manager in a shoe factory, married and had no children - and his wife reverted after his death to the ancestral version of his name; Carruthers.   It is strange that my grandfather's mother also moved with her husband to Massachusetts, she consistently lived in Massachusetts, and my grandfather never at any time had any idea of her brother's existence.   My grandfather's mother seems never to have been entirely rational, was noted for psychotic rages, and died psychotic in the Northampton state hospital.  

My grandfather seemed to think he outright needed someone else's permission to research his family history, as did both of his daughters, and that's another attitude I'm finding alot of among Anglo-Irish Protestants.  Among Anglo-Irish Protestants, you're expected to negotiate permission through third parties, even to talk to people.   This is certainly a very different style than that of the blunt, direct, independent and completely adult Scotch-Irish who include my father's Smith line, and I'm not finding current Irish Quakers with 17th century Irish Quaker ancestry to be caught up in it, either.   Having ancestors in the Royal Irish Constabulary who ate Catholics, for example, is a badge of honor among these people.   It's particularly honorable if the ancestor got medals for eating Catholics, or for inciting or outright forcing Catholics to kill him.    I got kicked off one of their forums for insisting differently.   I was told I have an "agenda" that isn't consistent with that of their forum.    The only agenda I know about is to tell the truth, and stand up to bigotry; both are how I was raised, and when I was growing up, I honestly thought that was how both my parents, and not only my father, wanted me to be.   

It is conceivably possible that the key to the entire blarney thing is to be found in the following quotation from an episode of the televison series Legacy House, about a genetic curse killing people thirteen generations descended from a fanatical Puritan clergyman who drowned a woman in a lake while trying her for witchcraft, while the members of their small community looked on.   The people who were dying actually shared a piece of genetic code passed down from the fanatical clergyman.

The Catholics of Ireland have already moved on, but generations from now, people of Anglo-Irish descent will still be getting back at themselves.