Select Lowe Genealogy

Lowe and its variants Low and Loew can be English or German in origin and will have a different meaning in each case.  

In England the name derives from the Old English word blaw, meaning “a prominent small hill,” and would describe someone who lived by such a place.  Another derivation may be from the Old Norse lagr meaning “low” or “short,” and here it might describe a short person.  Lowe and Low are the main spellings, Lowe in England and Low in Scotland.

The German derivation is from lewo and later loewe meaning “lion” and would possibly describe a brave or regal person. 
In some cases the surname could be habitational, from a house distinguished by the sign of a lion.  The Dutch equivalent is Louw.

Select Lowe Resources on The Internet

Select Lowe Ancestry

EnglandThe earliest mentions of Lowe seem to have been in Cheshire.  From there the name spread into the West Midlands, to Shropshire on one side and to Staffordshire and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire on the other.

Cheshire and the West Midlands
. The town of Macclesfield in east Cheshire listed Thomas del Lowe as its mayor in 1430 and Thomas Lowe in 1448.  One family line began with Thomas Lowe who died in Macclesfield in 1415.  His grandson Lawrence acquired property in Denby, Derbyshire by marriage and the family migrated there. 
Richard Lowe died without heirs in 1785.  The Derbyshire estates then passed to his cousin William Drury of Nottingham who adopted the name of Drury-Lowe.

Another migration from Cheshire occurred sometime in the 16th century to Shropshire.  William Lowe, who died in 1587, was a Shrewsbury draper and burgess.  His son George became a London merchant and local MP.

However, an earlier Lowe sighting in Shropshire was in the mid-15th century at Highley on the banks of the Severn river.  William Lowe took over the operation of the Borle mill there at that time.  By the middle of the 17th century the family had grown in importance.  Thomas Lowe had become lord of the manor and styled himself as living in Borle Hall.

One Lowe trail began in the Barthomley area of south Cheshire close to the Staffordshire border.  John Lowe was born there in 1749.  Some of his descendants moved from Wybunbury in Staffordshire to Manchester in the 1830’s. John Lowe emigrated to Australia with two of his brothers.  A younger brother Thomas Lowe remained in England and founded the Wesleyan Chapel in Rusholme near Manchester.  His son Joseph settled in the Lake District where he established a reputation as a photographer and painter.

The Lowe name also appeared in Nottinghamshire.  The Sherbrookes, Lowes and Bechers were gentry families at Southwell in Nottinghamshire, frequently marrying between themselves, from the 17th century onwards.  The Sherbrookes lived at Oxton Hall, the Lowes at Dunham.  From this line came Robert Lowe, a British statesman and Cabinet minister under Gladstone between 1868 and 1874.  He was ennobled as Viscount Sherbrooke. 

Meanwhile Joseph Lowe, a Nottingham draper, was three times Nottingham’s mayor around the year 1800.  His Highfield House home was built at that time.

.  There were also Lowes in London and East Anglia.  The pirate Ned Low, born around 1690, came from London.  Daniel Lowe was born in Stepney in 1761. 
John Lowes was the vicar at Brandeston in Suffolk from 1596 to 1646. 

William Lowe, born in 1744, lived in Buxton on the river Bure in Norfolk.  A descendant Thomas Lowe emigrated to America in the 1840’s.  William and Newell Lowe departed Aylsham in Norfolk for Prince Edward Island in Canada in 1830.

Scotland.  The spelling in Scotland is Low and the name is mainly found along the eastern coastline.  It could be here a pet form of the first name Lawrence. 

One family line began with the marriage of Charles Low and Elizabeth Morrison in Aberdeenshire in 1778.  Alexander Low was born in the parish of Logie Pert in Forfarshire (now Angus) in 1710.  John Low, a shoemaker in Brechin in 1785, was the forebear of a family of Scottish dance teachers in Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century. 

.  Lowes in Ireland would be of English extraction.  One Lowe family in Westmeath descended from an English officer at the time of Cromwell.  James Lowe made his home at Moate in Westmeath in the 18th century.  John Low meanwhile had settled at Spring House in Kilshane, Tipperary.  Later Lows of his line became sizeable landowners in Tipperary and Limerick

Bahamas.  Family lore and DNA analysis suggest that the Lowes of the Bahamas were of Portuguese origin.  It was said that Gideon Lowe was shipwrecked off the Bahamas in the early 1700’s.  A mariner by trade, Gideon later settled on Harbour Island.  

His grandson William was a sea captain in the Caribbean and the progenitor of the Lowes that migrated to Key West in Florida in the 1830’s.  However, many Lowes – the descendants of John Lowe – remained at Green Turtle Cay. Their line extended to Albert Lowe, a woodcarver of ship models whose work is commemorated in the Albert Lowe Museum that was opened in 1976

AmericaLowe arrivals in America are mainly English, but also include arrivals from Scotland, Ireland and Germany.

New England.  Captain John Low was master of the ship Ambrose and commander of the fleet that brought over Winthrop's colony in 1630.

“The cane and Bible, said to have belonged to Captain John Low, were handed down in the Low families of Essex, Massachusetts.  The Bible was imprinted in London in 1579.  It was marked Thomas Low his book and Susanna Low her book in 1677.”

Thomas Low, who married Susanna Stone in 1648, had made his home at Chebacco in Essex county, Massachusetts by 1641.  He was by trade a maltster.  He was also the progenitor of some notable Low lines.

A line via his son David led to William Henry Low of Salem, a pioneer of the US-China trade in the early 1800’s.  His niece Harriet Low wrote a journal of her time in China.  When he retired in 1833 his nephew Abiel Abbot Low took over.  Abiel’s son Seth Low was first Mayor of Brooklyn and then Mayor of New York City.

A line via his son Thomas the deacon became Lowe sometime in the 18th century.  Levi Lowe fought in the Revolutionary War and migrated to New Hampshire.  His son Clovis was a drummer boy in the War of 1812 and later a successful merchant.  Clovis’s son Thaddeus, otherwise known as Professor T.S.C. Lowe, was a remarkable scientific tinkerer in
meteorological sciences and in balloon building.  His later inventions in ice making machines and in hydrogen gas processes made him rich. 

Meanwhile another line from Thomas the deacon led to Maine and Pike county in Illinois

Elsewhere.  The Lowe name cropped up in Virginia in the 17th century, eleven men of that name recorded as being transported to Virginia at the time.  One line from Bedford county had descendants in Wilkes county, North Carolina by the 1770’s. 

John Lowe – thought to have come from Denby in Derbyshire - emigrated to Maryland sometime in the 1670’s.  A descendant John Tolson Lowe fought in the Revolutionary War.  He made his home at the Fernandina Beach plantation in Nassau county, Florida in 1804.  John Henry Lowe meanwhile settled in Clarke county, Georgia in 1807. His son Thomas, an accomplished violinist, was the acting mayor of Atlanta in 1861 during the Civil War.

The Lowes of Guilford county, North Carolina had uncertain origins.  They fact that they were Quakers might suggest Pennsylvania as an early arrival point.  The first recorded was Samuel Lowe, born in Guilford in 1720.  Judge William Lowe moved to Indiana a century later.  Jesse and Enos Lowe were early settlers of Omaha, Nebraska in the 1850’s. 

German.  Lowes in America can also be of German or even of Jewish origin.  The spelling on arrival could have been Lau, Loy, Loew, or Lowe.

One early arrival was Christian Lau from the German Palatine who had a terrifying journey from Rotterdam to Philadelphia in 1732.  Christian settled in York county, Pennsylvania.  Michael Lau adopted the Lowe spelling.  He migrated to Scott county, Tennessee where he was one of its early settlers. 

Later arrivals were the German Jewish immigrants Hermann and Ida Loew who came to New York in the 1860’s.  Their son Marcus started Loew’s Theaters in the early 1900’s for vaudeville and movies.  He later helped found the MGM film studio.

.  David and Jean Lowe from Aberdeen departed Scotland for Quebec in 1836.  Their son James, a farmer and a poet in his spare time, later settled in America, first in Iowa and then in Minnesota

Australia.  Robert Lowe emigrated from London to NSW in 1812 and later bought up lands to farm in the Bathurst and Mudgee districts.  His son Bobby was not one to be messed around with, as local bushrangers found to their cost.  Don’t try a Bobby Lowe with me was their lamented refrain.  Lowes are now in the fifth generation on the land, with David Lowe a respected winemaker in the area.

Select Lowe Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Lowe Names

John Lowe was a Catholic priest martyred for his faith in London in 1586.
Robert Lowe
served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Gladstone from 1868 to 1873.
Thaddeus Lowe
was a self-educated American scientist and inventor in the second half of the 19th century.  He is considered the father of military aerial reconnaissance.

Marcus Loew
, the son of Jewish immigrants, was a pioneer of the American film industry, founding Loew’s Theaters and the film studio MGM in the early 1900’s.
Arthur Lowe
 played Captain Mainwaring in the British TV sitcom Dad’s Army from 1968 to 1977.

Select Lowes Today
  • 52,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 40,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 31,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)