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Denbighshire Record Office

Lowther MSS

Reference code(s): GB 0209 DD/L

Held at: Denbighshire Record Office

Title: Lowther MSS

Short title: Lowther manuscripts

Dates of creation: 1524-1935

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 0.432 cubic metres (16 boxes). Extent includes DD/L ADD

Name of creator(s): Lowther family of Swillington and Erbistock Hall


Administrative and biographical history: The Lowther family of Swillington, Yorkshire, and Erbistock, Denbighshire, descended from the Lowther family of Lowther in Westmoreland. Sir John Lowther's youngest son was Sir William Lowther (1612-1688) of Swillington, Great Preston and Garforth. William's elder brothers were Sir John Lowther, first Baronet of Lowther, and Sir Christopher Lowther who was the founder of the Whitehaven branch of the family. William amassed most of his fortunes during the civil war, when he spent some of his time in Holland. In August 1656 William and his brother, Sir John, bought Great Preston and Astley for £7000. In the same period, William purchased with the aid of his cousins, Jeffrey Northleigh and Thomas Tite, the manor of Swillington from Conyers Darcy. William rebuilt the mansion of Great Preston and resided there. In Astley and Swillington, William and his descendants were actively involved in working the coal mines there. The estate passed from father to son (each named William) until the death without issue of Sir William Lowther (1694-1763). He bequeathed the Swillington estate to his cousin, the Rev. William Lowther (1707-1788), a family historian, who was created a baronet (second creation). In 1753 he married Anne, daughter of the Rev. Charles Zouch, and sister of Thomas Zouch (1737-1815). The Rev. William Lowther also owned Alverthorpe Hall near Wakefield, which he bought from a cousin, Thomas Maude, in 1754. The Rev. William Lowther's eldest son, William (1757-1844), succeeded to the estate and title. In 1802 he succeeded to the title of a distant cousin as Baron and Viscount Lowther, and in 1807 was created first Earl of Lonsdale. Between 1807 and 1824 he sold the Swillington estate to his younger brother, John (1759-1844), who in 1824 was created a baronet (third creation). Sir John, 1st Bart was offered a seat in parliament by Sir James Lowther, and was elected in 1780 as M.P. for Cockermouth as one of Sir James's 'nine-pins', serving as M.P. for several different constituencies from then on. Sir John Lowther was succeeded by his son, Sir John Henry Lowther (1793-1868), 2nd Bart. He followed in his father's footsteps and was elected an M.P. for Cockermouth 1820-1826, for Wigtown and New Galloway, Scotland, from 1826 to 1831, and as member for the City of York from 1835 to 1847. Sir John Henry died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother, Sir Charles Hugh Lowther (1803-1894), 3rd Bart, who was blind. On his death the estate passed to his grandson, Sir Charles Bingham Lowther (1880-1949), 4th Bart. Sir Charles sold Swillington House, Great and Little Preston Halls and his surrounding properties and collieries in 1920. He lived for some years in Northamptonshire before moving to Erbistock, Denbighshire. He was succeeded by his son, Sir William Guy Lowther (1912-1982), 5th Bart, who in turn was succeeded by Sir Charles Douglas Lowther, 6th Bart.


Scope and content: Deeds relating to the Lowther estate in Hertfordshire but mainly in Swillington, Garforth, and Kippax (Preston townships), between Leeds and Castleford, Yorkshire, 1524-1855; estate records, mainly rentals and accounts, 1754-1893; coal mining records, mainly the family's Astley colliery, Yorkshire, 1744-1893; personal and household accounts, 1655-1844; papers relating to politics, mainly in Cumberland, 1812-1833, Lancashire, 1784-1793, and Yorkshire, 1795-1886, especially the York election of 1832, business correspondence, including a letter-book of Sir William Lowther (d. 1687) relating to the cloth trade, 1649-1654; family, personal and literary papers, 1649-1844, including a diary of Sir John Lowther's Grand Tour of France and Italy in 1784-1785, correspondence of Sir William Lowther (1639-1705), 1677-1705, Rev. Sir William Lowther (1707-1788), 1762-1788, Sir John Lowther (1759-1844), 1785-1837, and letters to and from the Rev. Thomas Zouch (1737-1815), botanist and antiquary, 1785-1815. General correspondence and papers of the Lowther family, 1695-1894.


Language/script: English, Latin

System of arrangement: Arranged chronologically into the following: deeds; estate papers; coal mining; lead mining; family papers; politics; military and naval; ecclesiastical; education; transport; and miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access: No restrictions

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Denbighshire Record Office, National Library of Wales and the National Register of Archives.
Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records deposited at Denbighshire Record Office have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Lt. Col. Sir William Lowther and Lt Col Sir Charles Lowther, Fintancon House, 64 Haig Road, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.


Related units of description: Further papers relating to the Lowther family are Denbighshire Record Office, DD/L; West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds Acc 1634; Wigan Archives Service; North Yorkshire County Record Office, ZCN; and Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle Headquarters, D/LONS/L3/5/155.


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds

Archivist's note: Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description:, (7 January 2002); Clwyd Record Office, Report on the papers of the Lowther family, Baronets of Swillington, Yorkshire; Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (London, 1959); Guide to collections held at the Denbighshire Record Office (, viewed January 2002).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2 and LCSH

Date(s) of description: January 2002



Coal mines and mining | England | Yorkshire

Deeds | England | Yorkshire

Estate administration | England | Yorkshire

France | Description and travel

Italy | Description and travel

Lowther family, | of Swillington and Erbistock | Archives

Political campaigns | England, Northern

Textile industry | England

Personal names

Lowther family, of Swillington and Erbistock

Lowther, John, 1759-1844

Lowther, William, 1639-1705, Sir

Lowther, William, 1707-1788, Sir

Lowther, William, d. 1687, Sir

Zouch, Thomas, 1737-1815

Corporate names

Erbistock Hall Estate (Wales)

Swillington Estate (England)