Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lower, Thomas

LOWER, THOMAS (1633–1720), quaker sufferer, fourth son of Humphry Lower of Tremeere, St. Tudy, Cornwall (d. 1683), who married Margery Billing (d. 1686), was baptised at St. Tudy on 11 Aug. 1633. Richard Lower (1631–1691) [q. v.] was his brother. He was elected scholar of Winchester College in 1646. When George Fox was in Launceston gaol he was visited by Lower, (then dwelling with his aunt Loveday Hamley or Hambly at Tregangreeves, St. Austell, Cornwall), who offered him money. This was declined; but immediately on his liberation (13 Sept. 1656) Fox held a meeting at Tregangreeves. Lower became a convert to quaker principles, which he adhered to throughout life; and although he qualified as a physician, and, according to Sewel, practised in London, he seems to have spent most of his time in promoting their growth. His first wife is said to have been Elizabeth Trelawny, who died about 1662 without issue. On 26 Oct. 1668 he married, at Swarthmoor Hall, near Ulverston, Mary Fell, fifth daughter of Judge Fell and his wife Margaret Fell [q. v.] and stepdaughter of George Fox. In 1673 Fox and he were arrested at Armscott, Worcestershire, and carried to Worcester gaol, where they remained for more than a year. A letter which would have secured Lower's release was obtained through the interest of his brother, Richard Lower [q. v.], but as it did not mention Fox both of the prisoners continued in restraint. His wife and children lived at Swarthmoor Hall until 1676, when Lower purchased from the Fells the estate of Marsh Grange in Furness, and removed thither. In 1683 he went into Cornwall to transact some private business, and, after holding a religious meeting at Tregangreeves, was apprehended and sentenced to imprisonment for life. His name is first on a petition of quakers in Launceston gaol (1 Aug. 1683), which was presented to Sir Job Charleton, judge, at the assizes, and in spite of occasional periods of liberty he remained a prisoner until released by royal proclamation in 1686. He received from Fox in 1687 instructions respecting the disposition of his property. Under Fox's will he obtained legacies of books, dials, and other property, and it was added that he could assist in compiling an account of the travels and sufferings of the Friends. In 1715 he purchased some of the American property which had belonged to Fox. Lower died in 1720, aged 87, and his wife died in 1719, aged 75. They had ten children, nine daughters and one son, Richard, who was born in 1682, and, after being educated in Holland, died in 1705.

The titles of three works containing testimonies by Lower and of four pamphlets, which were signed by him with others, are specified in the ‘Bibliotheca Cornubiensis,’ i. 327. Daniel Phillips on commencing doctor of physic at Leyden in 1696 dedicated to Lower and others his treatise on the smallpox; and a letter from him to Sir Hans Sloane is in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 4052, fol. 97. He gave the quaker burial-ground at Tregangreeves, which still exists.

[Sewel's Hist. of Quakers, ed. 1834, i. 173, ii. 216–21; Maria Webb's Fell Family, pp. 247 et seq.; Bickley's George Fox, pp. 141, 327–34, 404–5, 433–4; Besse's Quaker Sufferings, i. 119, 126, ii. 71–5; E. and T. J. Backhouse's Biog. Memoirs, i. 209; Maclean's Trigg Minor, iii. 382–389; J. Morgan's Phœnix Britannicus, 1732, pp. 190–1.]

W. P. C.