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Research on Westmeath Lowe's and Nathaniel Lowe b 1812 Co Westmeath, Ireland

Lotta explanations for why a silver wolf is the heraldic Lowe symbol.   Linguistic coincidences to Germanic words for wolf don't pan out; all known English Lowe lines were Saxon (or atleast their name traces to Saxon-speaking people).  The Wolf appealed to our Lowes because they saw themselves in it.   This is a totem animal.

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See my Nathaniel Lowe page at my Rootsweb Worldconnect database.    This database is much easier to update than my web site - a simple matter of creating and uploading a GEDCOM of my database - and is updated more often.   Under ideal circumstances it contains the same information but not as nicely formatted.  Nathaniel's origins, as well as those of his wife, Catherine Allen, have long mystified my family.    This mystery has broken.   I have Nathaniel's marriage record in Galway, the baptism of his first son, Henry Nathaniel, nearby, and his Royal Irish Constabulary file.   His occupation was RIC constable and not secretary for Lord Loftus Whoever, nor (choke) Judge of the Four Courts of Dublin.    I have the probable names of both of Catherine's parents.    Her father was probably a military officer and not a respected local landowner since the time of the Stuart kings - though I have not proven that he was not local.    I have the probable identity of Nathaniel's family group in Galway, and a possible ancestry of them.    It does appear that Joseph'may have told a slightly garbled metastory colored somewhat by his father's mental illness, but, on the other hand, blarney is a prominent trait throught the family group.   This is a fast breaking story and will be updated regularly.   Nathaniel was born in County Westmeath in 1811 or 1812; he probably belonged to a large family group that lived nearby, and if he had a brother Stephen who settled in Tyrrellspass, then he probably settled very near the homes of his family, and possibly those of his ancestors.   

Actually Nathaniel Lowe served in the Royal Irish Constabulary, for most of his adult life.   He joined at age 20, in 1831.   He was born in County Westmeath.  He was sponsored, according to his RIC record, which I obtained on microfilm from LDS, by "Sir F. Clibborn, JP", which was almost certainly mis-transcribed from the original record.   Probably this was Cuthbert John Clibborn of Moate Castle, as that was the only JP of that name in the county in 1834, and if not, all Clibborns in the area lived within six miles of the little town of Moate.  He was a laborer when he joined the RIC, which doesn't necessarily mean that he was not the son of a farmer, though by that date some of the clan, originally gentry, were laborers.   He had a good basic education, because people who joined the Royal Irish Constabulary were required to be able to read and write well, and do math.  His name, and those of his brother,  immediate descendants, and brother's immediate descendants, were Westmeath Lowe clan names, and Nathaniel was the most distinctive of these names.   Nathaniel was first stationed in County Galway, in or near Tuam, where he spent his first eight years.   While stationed there he married Catherine Allen.   His marriage record and the baptismal record of his first son, born nearby, tell that he was a subconstable, which was the lowest rank of the RIC, and the rank that he held for his entire career.   His record shows that he obtained the required permission to marry Catherine Allen, and he was transferred as soon afterward as possible, in accordance with RIC policy.   An RIC member could not serve in his home county, nor in the county his wife was from; this avoided corruption and enabled the preponderantly Catholic officers to vigorously oppress their own people.

Do you know how you can often trace a lineage by paying attention to who in a family group is most like your own?   There is a real streak of blarney-telling through some of the Westmeath Lowe lines.    I compiled a page of my own Lowes' blarney, and blarney by other Westmeath Lowes.

   RIC constables were not for the most part a crime fighting force; their most important duties were to evict tenants and quell disorder.    There's no record I've yet found of what role Nathaniel Lowe may have specifically played in this struggle, and it is possible that his consistently undistinguished career reflects a lifetime of not eating Irish Catholics for dinner.   Like all members of the RIC he was transferred frequently all over Ireland, despite having a family.    He somehow seems to have avoided having children between Nathaniel's birth 10 months after their marriage, at the end of 1837, and Alice's birth in 1847.   

The truth to the story that Nathaniel settled in Manorhamilton rests in the fact that Alice was baptized there, as per her baptism record, but Nathaniel was not there for very long.   It is not clear to me if he got to County Fermanagh for the second time in 1851, or retired then.    Griffiths Evaluation, a country-wide tax assessment, finds him in Trory Parish, in Derryinch townland on the lake, immediately north of Enniskillen, in 1862, where he rented a house and office (which I'm told meant outdoor shed or toilet facility), but not the land it sat on.   I don't know if he was still in the RIC at that time or not.   He died at Belfast in 1868, and his death record says that he was a "police pensioner", which seems to mean that he had retired, and his son in law John Clingen, who Joseph Lowe says belonged to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and who did not live at the address where Nathaniel died, was with him when he died and acted as informant.    He died of "asthma" lasting 12 months, at age 56.  His son died of pulmonary disease resulting from heart failure, and it is possible that the doctor couldn't distinguish emphysema or other lung disease from asthma.  

At this time the family may have broken up;  son William, who was not quite 18 years old, seems to have split for the U.S. at this time, atleast according to his report on the 1900 census.    Two of his sons lived with his son Henry Nathaniel, the only adult among his children, who was established in several careers in Enniskillen, and had a wife and already two children; and they subsequently died of TB.   I've no idea where their mother went; she took part in Henry Nathaniel's bankruptcy hearing in 1881, coming to court to say that he'd run away to America, and died in 1895 while "visiting" her daughter in County Down.   Daughter Kate and John Clingen went to Massachusetts about 1872, and he quickly died; she remarried.   Elizabeth did not marry for another 10 years, and it was she who her mother was "visiting" when she died.   Three of Nathaniel's seven children did not live past their teens.   

The household in Enniskillen must have broken up in 1881, when Henry Nathaniel's wife Mary died of TB, and he went bankrupt and fled the country, leaving his mother to explain his absence in court and sell his possessions (according to a newspaper article and an announcement of the sale of his possessions).   I do not know where Catherine, the mother of Henry Nathaniel and widow of Nathaniel, lived after 1881.   She was 65 in that year and couldn't support herself.   Most of Henry Nathaniel's daughters were very young, between 3 and 18 years old, and I also have no idea who cared for them.    A number of them ended up in New England as adults.  Possibly aunts and uncles in Ireland, which I think pretty much consisted of Elizabeth who Catherine was visiting when she died, took them in.   Several of them never married, and lived with their sister Maud, who married.  Joseph, who was 16, appears to have gone to Canada or Massachusetts, and stayed there, shifting around between his relatives and possibly the family of his future wife.   

There were also Lowe's living IN Moate.  One of them in the 1881 Moate directory, John, acted like a clone of Nathaniel's and Stephen's sons in the north of Ireland.   John was a storekeeper with hands in more pies than one could imagine;.  He sold groceries and spirits, imported wool, hung draperies, and acted as some sort of emigration agent; if that was a sort of travel agent or a government agent.    As with Henry Nathaniel in Enniskillen, some of this turns out in later directories after John had died, to have been carried on by family members.   A daughter was the drapery hanger.     

John Lowe of Ballycahilroe held several large contiguous blocks of land in the 1854 census.   He rented out a portion of his land for a local Royal Irish Constabulary Force barracks in 1854, and who attended church in Athlone, and was buried in Athlone.

Several members of the Clibborn family owned large estates near other Lowe residences within six miles of Moate, but they don't appear to have been JP's.

Finally, there seem to have always been Lowe's of the clan living in Athlone.    The first was apparently Thomas, the third brother, who rented land north of Athlone.  Unlike his brothers, while he did fight in Cromwell's army, he was not an officer, and possibly he was not given land.    It is not clear whether later Lowe's in Athlone or elsewhere are descended from him.   In the mid 18th century, the most prominent of the Lowe's named Nathaniel was based there, before going to County Galway to found Lowville.   A generation before him was one of the relatively few Edward Lowe's, and this was a name our Nathaniel gave one of his sons.   I have not been able to learn this Nathaniel's line of descent so far.    However there were Nathaniel's among Lowe's farther east who are known to be descended from George.   It is possible that the name caught on among both surviving lines of the family.    

Later in the 19th century, after Griffith's Evaluation, some Lowe's lived off and on on the former Lowe estates of Newtownlow and Cornaher.   At that time, these estates were still owned by Lowe's, only inheritance by a female had changed their surname.   One Lowe who appears there on his son's birth certificate was caretaker at the time.   I've not uncovered what Robert Lowe of Cornaher was doing there, but while he is identified that way in his burial records in Moate, he wasn't living there by 1854, even though he was born about 1809.     

For relatives, I compiled a folder of the Lowe photos that I have.

I compiled Lowe data from historical sources and online resources, including indexes, from Westmeath, Meath and Offaly /Kings , in Ireland.    The bmd indexes link to bmd records that are available for about $7 or $8 in U.S. dollars.   There are ALOT of them, and if anyone purchases some of them, please let me know what data you found so I can add it.    This research will go much faster if people work together.   Most info is from Westmeath though clearly the family lived in an adjacent area of Offaly/ Kings County.   Don't know how many lived in Meath.   

This Lowe family belongs to a group of families in southern County Westmeath, that is descended from a family of Cromwellian gentry that settled in that part of County Westmeath (Newtown, 2 miles from the western border of Tyrrellspass, and Moycashel Barony, which includes Kilbeggan and Moate.   John Low somehow went to Ireland before Cromwell did anything there, as he was buried in 1838 in a big family tomb at St. Laurence's in Chapelizod, a suburb of Dublin.  He may have been a "gentleman of Dublin", and atleast one of his children may have been born there around 1630.   He had three sons who fought in Cromwell's army; of those, two were officers.   William was given 5000 acres of land in Newtown parish, including the townland and estate of Newtownlow, and George was given lands in Moycashel Barony.    Their brother Thomas apparently also settled there by 1662.   The list of estate grants tells us that actually all three brothers got land in Moycashel Barony, in the parishes of Newtown, Rahugh, and Castletowne.  Their lands were most concentrated in Newtown, they had substantial lands in Rahugh, and George apparently set up his home in Knockicosker in Castletown.  Thomas Lowe appears to have also rented a piece of land north of Athlone.  Two sources say that all three of them settled within five miles of the town of Moate.   The family that was there in the 19th century and into teh 20th, used a similar naming pattern, and was confined to a remarkably tight area that includes Kilbeggan and places within about 10 miles to the west and south, in nearly a straight line, ending near Athlone.  In the 19th century, most Lowes were concentrated around Moate, and Clara in County Westmeath, with a pocket in Kilkenny West.  The Cromwellian family came from Bewdsley, near Kidderminster, in Worcestershire, where many people named Lowe lived in 1600; they shared a similar naming pattern.   

There was a line of Lowe gentry in Worcestershire that alleges itself to be quite old, claims Norman descent and a Saxon geographical name (hlaw ---> lawe), that was spelled and pronounced by the Saxon spelling  until after it went to Ireland..  They used a number of coats of arms that bear similarities to that described by my great grandfather, Joseph Lowe, though none of them is identical, and they used the same motto.   A coat of arms exists no the tomb in Chapelizod but I have not yet seen it.   I put together what I so far know of the genealogy of this family.    

Online resources and the only historical resource that I know of concentrate on the immediate family that held the estate of Newtownlow, which is William and most of hisdescendants, who were half to fully insane and tended to die childless.   That line is said to have died out (the last of them having died in an insane asylum.)  William's half insane son Barakah (Barry Lowe), the priest hunter, had one son who was not followed because he was disinherited, and William's brother George had seven sons, of whom I've so far seen only one even named.   One version of the history of the Lowes who lived around Moate in the 19th century was that they were descended from Barry's son who was disinherited after marrying someone Barry didn't approve of, and another version is that they were descended from George.   Thomas may also have had sons.   There was additionally an Edward Lowe who showed up in an early tax roll, from the 1650's, among those who William the father of Barry Lowe settled on his lands from England.   The name Nathaniel came into the family naming pattern in Westmeath, but once it did, it seemed that lots of the family were named Nathaniel, including Nathaniel Low who founded the estate of Lowville in Galway in the late 18th century.    I have not however learned exactly how he links to the Westmeath family.   Probably there is a common ancestor of the Nathaniel's, and I expect that most likely he was descended from George.   

The anti-Catholic activities of Barry Lowe and a number of equally insane kin, of whom I do not have a list; maybe they were all descendants of William and maybe not, was atleast one driving force in the exeptional violence that characterized Catholic-Protestant relations in the Lowe's portion of County Westmeath.  In the mid 18th century, powered by a Lowe descendant, probably of George, Charles and John Wesley actually got caught up in it.   Lowe descendant, named Samuel Handy (mother was a Lowe), and his more seriously manic-depressive brother, were very impressed with the Wesley's, found Jesus, and repeatedly invited the Wesley's to hold meetings at their castle in Rathugh, south of Kilbeggan.   This lead to a center of Methodism based in Rathugh and Moate.  

Barry Lowe's father,William, was an ardent Anabaptist, and an ardent bigot.   The Lowes came from Bewdsley, outside of Kidderminster, in Worcestershire; Bewdsley was the seat of the founding of English Anabaptism.   William even got into trouble with the Cromwells, because he opposed the protectorate, not on the grounds of tyrrany, as William was no democrat and had full traditional feudal powers over his large estates; but because only the Lord is entitled to be called Protector.  It is not clear to me if George and Thomas were anabaptists.   Their father was either a soldier or a merchant, or possibly a silversmith or jeweler, based in Dublin, with both the money and the connections to be buried at Chapelizod, a very small seat of the anglo-irish aristocracy, occupied by two of their more important palaces, a historic church, 10 peasant homes and a communal oven.   Barry was struck blind by God, another descendant of William was struck dead by God, several went mad, one dying in an asylum, and one died less humanly.   The peasants apparently feared these people like Nosferatu.   

Nosferatu Wolf

Joseph Lowe was no more than three when his grandfather died, and parted company from his father at age 16 or shortly thereafter.   Much of his family history is garbled.   His description of the Lowe family crest is garbled, and his description of his father's very strange-sounding genealogical activities may be garbled.   One gets the idea that once Nathaniel left home, he had contact with just one brother of all his kin.   Henry Nathaniel allegedly spent time and a lot of money in the office of Heraldry researching his family background, and talking to his Westmeath kin would have been a far more logical move.  I have to wonder whether Joseph knew the family history or not.   If Nathaniel, a laborer and then a lifelong low level soldier/ goverment agent/ policeman, didn't want to talk about it, very little of it could have come down, and one can see Henry Nathaniel wondering why they had a family crest on top of inheriting the bipolar Lowe temperament.   That would definitely have gotten my imagination going.   Joseph writes that he left home at a very young age and was too young to be bothered about ancestors.  However, once one knows the truth, Joseph's sad rambling about Robert Lowe and the Corn laws, and our ancestry giving no cause for vainglory, come across like conceivably an effort to communicate his feelings about his family history without passing it on.    The deliberate systematic starvation of the Irish people that created the Irish potato famine was founded on the same social philosophy as the corn laws, and makes the corn laws sound like small potatoes (or whatever), and Nathaniel may have been in the middle of it, or trying not to be in the middle of it and quietly thanking his lucky stars.   The Irish Potato Famine occurred in the middle of the 1840's, and the worst problems associated with it happened in the years leading up to it.   Nathaniel spent time in some of the worst affected places, like Westmeath, and Galway.   

I compiled snippets of Westmeath Lowe genealogical information from the web, and from charts and stories compiled by descendants of the family group.  Several people writing around 2000 on the genealogical boards state that they have atleast one of the lines traced to George, one of the two Cromwellian army officers granted land in Westmeath - the one who was given land in Moycashel Barony west of his brother William's estates in Newtown.   Since both were given multiple estates of individual Irish lords they were confiscated from, probably both had multiple properties in multiple locations to leave to offspring.   I also compiled a list of the people doing the research.   They have grown hard to find.   Since the line that traced to George uses more recent clan names like James and Nathaniel, this pretty much cinches the origins of all of the Lowe's in the region in the mid 18th to 19th centuries.   It does look like some of the lines may trace to George's brother Thomas.

Someone in Dublin with knowledge about the family told me that "From the Christian names you describe, it does sound very likely that Nathaniel belonged to one of the many lines of the Westmeath Lowe family."    Others agree that Stephen's and Nathaniel's names belong to this family.   

My Lowe database also includes what I have on the Worcestershire gentry family.   I have absolutely no reason to think that the Cromwellian family was related to them, certainly not closely.   It is conceivable that Henry Nathaniel Lowe thought otherwise, but if so his coat of arms should have more closely resembled theirs, which most often had three wolves' heads arranged diagonally in a bar thingy across it, and has no castle any place.   Joseph was describing it from memory and could have confused a boar's head with a wolf, particularly as the Worcestershire Lowes' wolves are heads facing left with the tongue sticking out, and conceivably the castle was really a knight's helmet.   There were two branches of the Worcestershire gentry family; Bromsgrove and Lindridge.  It is strange that Henry Nathaniel Lowe would have spent large amounts of time and money researching his family background in a resource on heraldry, when surely his Lowe kin back in Westmeath could have told him the whole story.   He probably couldn't have found the Westmeath family's history by that route.   It is unclear if he came up with a coat of arms the family was entitled to, or bought what was popularly known as a "pig in a poke".    He could actually have arrived at a coat of arms similar to those of the Worcestershire Lowe families by coincidence, because it was the oldest of the Lowe coats of arms in England and is often cited as a pattern for later coats of arms of other Lowe families.   Nathaniel himself was a laborer, if that means common laborer or farm worker, maybe even on his father's farm.   He is almost certainly of the Westmeath Lowe family.   

It turns out, however, that one of Catherine Lowe and Frank Pierce's descendants has a small block with a coat of arms on it.   She got this from her mother, and it apparently came independently from Nathaniel via his daughter Catherine, without coming through Henry Nathaniel.    In time we will know what coat of arms Nathaniel had.    She did say that the motto - Speliora Melori (I may not have that spelled right) is the same.   I have a page of photos of the block, photos of the crest it made on a piece of stationary, photos of Lowe coats of arms, and a listing of all information on Lowe crests and coats of arms that I could find.  It turns out that the crest and a coat of arms were officially granted - to a different family.   Also the crest is blazoned incorrectly.   It looks likely that Nathaniel, or possibly Henry Nathaniel, picked up some items with the crest on it in a "bucket shop".    

I compiled two maps - Lowe map 1, and Lowe map 2, showing where 19th century Lowe's lived in County Westmeath, and where Cromwellian army officers George and William were granted land in the 17th century. (red placemarks)   The maps are not the best; several Lowe's were at some places, and they don't all display, and some names or placemarks are obscured.   Notice that the surrounding area is completely barren of Lowe's; all Lowe's in the entire larger area lived within 10 or 15 miles of where the Cromwellian army officers were given land.   Even the Lowe's on the eastern edge of County Galway (Lowville), were of this family.   

I also have a set of maps from the Ordnance Survey maps that are keyed to Griffiths Evaluation, showing where Lowe's, and also Clibborn's were living in 1854.  On the same page, I have Westmeath and Kings County entries for Low and Lowe, and the complete Tithe Applotment books for southern Westmeath County and several counties along the county line (which I transcribed from LDS films)..

I have been in in touch with three descendants of Nathaniel Lowe's daughter Catherine, who married twice, to John Clingen and Frank Pierce, and came to the U.S.  The Clingen descendants seem to be odd and tell strange stories, when they tell anything, and the Pierce descendants seem with it.    

The following story comes from the Clingen descendants, and did not prove to be true.   Well, duh, since he was really the lowest rank of Royal Irish Constable all his life.   Nevertheless I checked the report out completely.   

"He was Judge Nathaniel Lowe, they were both from Enniskillen, or nearby,
and Judge Nathaniel Lowe became a Judge in the 4 Courts
of Dublin (which is the name of the court building).  Tucker
has a wonderful picture of him in full dress and it is so noted
on the back of the picture that he is Judge, which I always
knew, but I had never seen a picture of him."

I checked with a librarian at the law school at Trinity University in Dublin.  She checked thoroughly and we went back and forth on it for over a week.

Alumni Dublinensis – which lists entrants to the College.  I’ve also checked the following reference works:

Ball, Francis Elrington.  The Judges in Ireland.  1221 – 1921.  London, 1926;   - lists all judges who have ever been in Ireland.

The  King's Inns admission papers 1607-1867.  Dublin, Irish Manuscripts Commission,  1982

The King’s Inns Barristers.  1868 – 2004.  Dublin, Honorable Society of the King’s Inns, 2005

Admissions Papers to Gray’s Inn

Admission Papers to the Middle Temple

Admission Papers to Lincoln’s Inns

Then Seamas McCarty of Enniskillen, a local historian who helped me crack my family's mythology on Nathaniel's son Henry Nathaniel, checked most of the same sources and also found nothing.  

No Nathaniel Lowe was ever a judge, any place in Ireland, or atleast not beyond Henry Nathaniel's rank of court clerk and JP.  (The current occupant of Lowville insists that there was such a judge and is sending me his reason to think so.)   However, thinking that if he were a judge in Dublin he'd necessarily have been to law school at her school, she checked for admissions to entrants to the college, as she said above, and found two Nathaniel Lowe's.   Neither is our Nathaniel Lowe.   She had dates of admission, age at admission, and father's name and place of origin for each.   One of them was the son of William Low, Esq, of Lowville (son of Nathaniel Lowe, of the Westmeath family).   The other was son of a Dublin banker.   Neither was born close to 1811 or 1812.   She said that to become a "barrister", he'd have ahd to belong to one of the inns or temples and eaten there a few times even if he were antisocial.    The term barrister is unclear; it's most common meaning is lawyer, not judge.   Actually a barrister was a higher class of attorney who represented people in the superior courts; all other legal business was done by solicitors.  Which is even more confusing because it evidently wasn't a judge.  See Wikipedia article on barristers.   Now, quite a number of the Westmeath family were lawyers.  The family were originally gentry, and some lines stayed gentry through the 19th century.  There were also a number of Church of Ireland clergy among them.   The name Nathaniel was very common among the Westmeath family, and possibly not unknown elsewhere in Ireland, though it's hard to tell because not all of the Westmeath family stayed in Westmeath.   Putting it altogether, I think that what happened is that someone encountered a Nathaniel Lowe who was an attorney, thought he was ours, mistook the British barrister's robes for those of a judge, and labelled the photo "Judge Nathaniel Lowe".    Confusing people of the same name is the oldest genealogical mistake in the book, and one of the most common.    Possibly no Nathaniel Lowe was a barrister, either, but I"m too vague on that.

The only Nathaniel Lowe I found in Dublin in 19th century directories was employed variously as a stock market salesman, a bank clerk, and a bank officer; it may or may not have all been the same individual.  I was not told if both the Nathaniel Lowe's who enrolled in the law school at Trinity College during the 19th century ever got degrees.   Maybe one of them did like EM Forster's Maurice, dropped out of university, and went into finance.   

These two individuals weren't forthcoming with more information.   It reads more like confusion, but the possibility exists that the story is entirely made up.   




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