THOMAS LOWE and his ERRANT DAUGHTER ISABEL - SHEFFIELD 1878

The 1851 census gives a the following entry

NAME STATUS AGE SEX OCCUPATION BIRTHPLACE
THOMAS LOWE MARRIED 59 M AGRICULTURAL LAB DISLEY CHESHIRE ENGLAND
BETTY LOWE MARRIED 59 F DISLEY CHESHIRE ENGLAND
ELIZABETH LOWE UNMARRIED 29 F COTTON PICKER DISLEY CHESHIRE ENGLAND
HARRIET LOWE UNMARRIED 28 F COTTON PICKER DISLEY CHESHIRE ENGLAND
THOMAS LOWE UNMARRIED 20 F BLUE DYER - PRINT SHOP DISLEY CHESHIRE ENGLAND

Ten years later the son CHARLES (30) has married a woman JANE (27) and was working as a railway labourer in Langleydale Shotton (Durham). They were lodging on a farm (Hollin Hill) with others whilst working on the construction of the railway. His wife was born in Staindrop, Durham. 

By 1871 THOMAS and JANE  were living in Sheffield at 131 Bernard Street in the Park District of Sheffield. They had two children ISABEL age 9 and PETER age 6. ISABEL had been born in Copley Co Durham whereas Peter had been born in Middlewich Cheshire. Thomas was now a 40 year old  "contractor and carter" whilst both his children were scholars.

The family seemed to have been mobile up until then but they must have decided to stay in Sheffield. They did move from Bernard Street to Langdon Street sometime in the 1870's because it was there that Thomas Lowe committed "a series of assaults" on his 16 year old daughter  Isabel

 

It is quite clear from the hearing that this was more than just a series of assaults. Even the redoubtable Charles Clegg who was defending Lowe, pointed out that it was a "very unfortunate case" and that he had used "more violence than he was justified in inflicting." And so even the defence thought that Lowe had greatly exceeded what was deemed acceptable. Lowe's defence that he was "very exasperated" at the time of the assault fell a long way short of what the Court and the prosecution wanted to hear. This was nothing short of a violent pre-meditated assault that caused actual bodily harm and left the victim screaming with pain. Furthermore there was visible evidence that Lowe had repeatedly kicked his daughter on more than one occasion - "across the room and down the stairs."

This was a man who had no compunction in violating women just because they did not do what he wanted when he wanted. To "thrash" a 16 year girl with a horsewhip for fully five minutes borders on attempted murder rather than a common assault.

But what followed next takes a bit of believing but given the norms in Victorian society it was only really to be expected. The magistrates initially contemplated that Lowe should serve a prison term for the vicious assault but thought that this course off action may provoke future ill-feeling between the defendant and his daughter and so found Lowe the sum of 5 and bound him over for a 12 month period. And then they turned their attentions to the daughter and gave her "advice about her future conduct".

To modern day sensibilities the actions of Messrs Vickers and Webster in implicitly admonishing Isabel for her conduct seem outrageous but in Victorian Britain it was commonplace for women in her position to receive "advice" from the Bench. Of course the Bench's time may have been more profitably expended in informing Lowe that he ever does such a similar thing again, he will be sent to prison for a long time. 

But at least Isabel stated that she was going to seek a "respectable position" and leave home. She did neither. The 1881 Census has the following information

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Thomas LOWE Head M Male 50 Disley, Cheshire, England Contractor
Elizabeth A. LOWE Wife M Female 26 Bolton, Lancashire, England
Isabel LOWE Daur U Female 19 Copley, Durham, England
Peter LOWE Son Male 15 Middle Witch, Cheshire, England Masons Apprentice
Robert LOWE Son Male 1 Sheffield, York, England
John MILLHOUSE Boarder U Male 22 NK, Lincoln, England General Labourer

Source Information: - Dwelling 69 Langdon St Census Place Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England
Family History Library Film 1342120 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 4638 / 97 Page Number 13

Isabel did not acquire a respectable position and she was still living with her father and stepmother in the same house where the assault had taken place. there could be a number of reasons for this but they would be pure speculation. There is a chance that they were reconciled in some fashion and/or Lowe made some agreement with his daughter, as indicated in court.

But sadly this reconciliation did not last because just over three years later Isabel died at Sheffield's Dispensary and was buried alongside her mother JANE and baby brother JAMES in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery

Sheffield Dispensary where Isabel died

LOWE, Isabella (Daughter of Thos Lowe, age 22).
Died at Dispensary; Buried on August 27, 1884 in General ground;
Grave Number 114, Section Z of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: 18875 25049 Residence Langdon Street.
LOWE, James (Son of Thos Lowe, age 3 weeks).
Died at 122 Bernard Street; Buried on August 13, 1873 in General ground;
Grave Number 114, Section Z of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: .Plot Owner: Lowe THOMAS of 122 Bernard Street.
LOWE, Jane (wife of Thos Lowe, age 43).
Died at 73 Fentonville Street; Buried on May 2, 1877 in General ground;
Grave Number 114, Section Z of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Remarks: reopened 18875.

Also laid to rest there were Isabel's little stepsister FLORENCE

LOWE, Florence (Daughter of Thos Lowe, age 3 weeks).
Died at 69 Langdon St; Buried on September 14, 1880 in General ground;
Grave Number 114, Section Z of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Remarks: 25049 18875.

The last person to buried in the grave was Thomas Lowe, nearly 13 years after the daughter he assaulted with such brutal ferocity

LOWE, Thomas (Builder & Contractor, age 64).
Died at Bishop Street; Buried on June 3, 1897 in General ground;
Grave Number 114, Section Z of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: 18875.

I wonder if Thomas Lowe did learn his lesson??

Notes

Deaths Jun 1877   Lowe Jane 43 Eccesall Volume  9c Page 189

Sources

Sheffield and Rotherham Independent  - 10 - 11th February 1875

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This page was last updated on 15/05/12 10:00