also Lowther opposed, denouncing it as an extremely bad measure and speaking disrespectfully of Disraeli, its framer. But his independent action did not prevent him from being offered nor from accepting the post of parliamentary secretary to the poor law board in Disraeli's first administration (1867–8). At the general election of 1868 he was again returned at the head of the poll at York, and in the following years he took a vigorous part in opposition to Gladstone's government in Parliament. He was never afraid of controversy with the prime minister, and was one of the minority of eleven against 442 in the division on the second reading of the Irish land bill (1870). At the general election of 1874 he was for a third time returned for York, but on this occasion second at the poll. When Disraeli formed his second administration in 1874 he appointed Lowther under-secretary for the colonies. In 1878 Disraeli, now Lord Beaconsfield, gave further proof of his confidence in Lowther by nominating him chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland in succession to Sir Michael Hicks Beach. He was sworn of the privy council at the same time. This was Lowther's highest official appointment, and his last. It caused surprise at the time. His character and temperament always appeared to greater advantage in the freedom of opposition than under the restraint of office, and it was remembered to his detriment in Ireland that he had voted against the land bill of 1870. He showed no lack of ability in conducting the business of his department, nor any vacillation in dealing with the spirit of disorder which was becoming manifest in the country. But the duke of Marlborough was lord-lieutenant; Lowther was not in the cabinet, and consequently was not charged with full responsibility. He held the appointment till the general election of 1880, which was fatal alike to the government and himself. He lost his seat at York after a fifteen years' tenure of it. For eight years his efforts to re-enter the House of Commons proved unsuccessful. In Feb. 1881 he stood and was beaten in East Cumberland, and in September in North Lincolnshire. At the general elections of 1885 and 1886 he was defeated in the Louth division of Lincolnshire and the Eskdale division of Cumberland. In 1888 he was returned at a bye-election for the Isle of Thanet, and that constituency he represented until his death. On his return to the house he made a reputation as a rare survival of old toryism. He deplored Ritchie's bill for the establishment of county councils (1888), which he was not in the house in time to resist. He was always an unwavering advocate of protection, and welcomed the prospect, which was realised in his last year in parliament, of tariff reform becoming an accepted principle of his party. He had great knowledge of parliamentary procedure and paid constant attention to forms and precedent. He was popular among all parties in the house. It was his annual habit during his last years in parliament to oppose the sessional order of the house prohibiting lords-lieutenant and peers from taking part in elections, on the ground that it was an anomaly and that it was not rigidly enforced. It continued to be passed until 1910, when it was finally dropped.
Outside politics Lowther had many public interests. He served as alderman of the county council for the North Riding of Yorkshire and on the Tees Fishery Board, and he was one of the founders and sometime president of the Darlington Chamber of Agriculture. On his father's death in 1894 he inherited Wilton Castle, Redcar, and took personal interest in his estate. In 1873 he began to breed horses at Wilton Castle, and registered his colours—blue and yellow hoops, red cap. He trained at Newmarket with Joseph Enoch, who was Lord Zetland's private trainer. Enoch died in 1902, and thenceforth Lowther trained with John Watts and, after Watts's death, with Golding. During these years Lowther won many races, but none of first-rate importance. His first success was in 1877, when he won the Gimcrack Stakes with King Olaf, ridden by Archer. His most successful horse was King Monmouth, who began by winning the Great Yorkshire Handicap in 1885, and ended with a record in 1889 of twenty-three races and upwards of 11,000l. in stakes. Lowther's best year was in 1889, when he won fourteen races and over 7000l. in stakes. He ran his horses regularly in the north of England, and was a constant attendant at meetings at York, Stockton, and Redcar. Lowther's reputation did not, however, depend only or mainly on his achievements as an owner. He did not bet, and was known to be a good judge of racing and to demand as high a standard of honesty in its conduct as was required in any other occupation. He became a member of the Jockey Club in 1877; he first served as a steward in 1880. When senior steward in 1889 he was appointed a member of a special commission with Prince Soltykoff and Lord March (duke of