Sir Christopher Lowther, 3rd Baronet
Sir Christopher Lowther, 3rd Baronet (1666 – 2 October 1731) was an English baronet, the eldest son of Sir John Lowther, 2nd Baronet and Jane Leigh (died 1678). His alcoholism and irresponsibility caused his father to disinherit him in 1701, leaving his brother James to become master of the Lowther estates at Whitehaven.
Lowther was born at Sockbridge Hall and baptised on 4 June 1666. Correspondence suggests he may have been lame. He entered Queen's College, Oxford in 1685, but fell in with the rakish set there, and took to drinking and gambling. However, after leaving Oxford and taking up legal studies at the Inns of Court in 1688, his behavior improved somewhat, and his father began to consider finding a post for him.
Relations with family
Unfortunately, Christopher quarreled with his father in 1691, and spent the next several years with a friend, the Rev. H. Maurice, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to forswear alcohol and resume his legal studies. While he several times pledged to forgo liquor, the return of his brother James as Member of Parliament for Carlisle in late 1694 aroused great jealously in him, and he began drinking again.
In 1698, Lowther was reconciled with his father, who brought him to Whitehaven and gave him a part in the management of the family estates. He does not appear to have shirked his duties, and letters from him regarding the operation of the coal mines are still extant. Sir John again began to consider finding a government employment for him. However, on 5 July 1700, he precipitately left Whitehaven without his father's permission and returned to London. Three months later, he was imprisoned by his creditors in London, and was not released until 1702, when William Lancaster, the future provost of Queen's College, Oxford, paid his debts.
Disinheritance and later life
This final episode served to exhaust the patience of his father, Sir John. When he fell ill in February 1701, he made out a will leaving the Lowther estates to James, in lieu of Christopher. James was then studying in London, and he continued to report on Christopher's escapades until May 1702, when he agreed to no longer mention him to his father until they could be reconciled again. It was not to be. Sir John died in January 1706, leaving the bulk of his fortune to James, and an allowance of £2 a week for Christopher. By this time, Christopher had again gambled his way into debt, and was thrown into Newgate Prison. James obtained his release in June 1706 by paying a debt of £54. In return for his residual rights on the Lowther estates, James settled on him an annuity which, with the allowance already made by the will, gave Christopher about £200 a year.
In 1710, he married Jane Nanson, daughter of Philip Nanson, rector of Newnham, Hampshire. He spent the remainder of his life dwelling with his father-in-law or in his house on Brook Street, Holborn. He left no children, so upon his death in London in 1731, the baronetcy passed to his younger brother.
The two brothers, Christopher and James, were remarkably different in personality: Christopher was a drinking, gambling, swaggering fellow, while James was a diligent and parsimonious lifelong bachelor. By reluctantly disinheriting Christopher in favor of James, Sir John prevented the estates he had laboured to build at Whitehaven from being dissipated and squandered. In fact, James would not only maintain them, but improve them to such a degree as to become the richest commoner in England.
- Beckett, J.V. (1980). "The Disinheritance of Sir Christopher Lowther in 1701". Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society 80: 131–136.
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