LOWE, alias FYFIELD, Simon (by 1522-78), of London and Bromley, Kent.
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Family and Education
Warden, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1549-50, master 1557-8.2
The family of Lowe alias Fyfield had a branch at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire to which Simon may have belonged. Of modest origin, he prospered as a merchant taylor in London under Henry VIII but seems to have been unrelated to other London merchants of his name. He was active in the landmarket. In 1543 he bought a Lincolnshire manor for £100 and in the following reign he acquired extensive lands there and in Suffolk; in 1551-2 he added manors in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and in December 1551 he and William Garrard were granted the next presentation to the archdeaconry of Taunton. Many of Lowe’s acquisitions were to involve him in litigation during the reign of Mary. In London he had a house by the Bridge and tenements elsewhere, some of which he had bought from his Company in 1551 for more than £600.3
It is easier to understand why Lowe should have wanted to sit in Parliament under Mary than how he contrived to do so: he doubtless looked on a place in the Commons as a vantage-point from which to face the challenges to his property, and on 2 Nov. 1553 he was to invoke the privileges of the House on behalf of his servant William Conway who had been attached at the suit of one Galey. His first seat he picked up only at a late stage: it was the one at Stafford vacated by (Sir) Anthony Browne I when he chose to sit for Petersfield. How it fell to Lowe can only be guessed at: he had no known connexion with the borough or with the 1st Baron Stafford, its usual patron, and no likely sponsor presents himself unless Browne had the naming of his replacement. That Browne was involved is suggested by the context of Lowe’s election a year later. Shoreham was part of the regained inheritance of the 4th Duke of Norfolk, who as a minor probably wielded the patronage by deputy. Between Norfolk and Lowe no more substantial a link has been found than that provided by (Sir) Richard Morgan, a fellow-parishioner of Lowe in London and an executor of the old duke’s will; Morgan and Browne had been imprisoned together under Edward VI for hearing mass. If the friendship between Lowe and Browne’s steward William Denton went back to this time—in 1565 Denton was to make Lowe an executor of his will—it would strengthen the impression that Browne had a hand in Lowe’s election for both Stafford and Shoreham. With such sponsorship Lowe could have been expected to support the reunion with Rome, and in his first Parliament he was accordingly, and unlike his fellow-Member, not marked down as having ‘stood for the true religion’ that is, for Protestantism. In his second he again gave satisfaction at least to the extent that he was not found absent without leave when the House was called early in January 1555.4
In July 1558 Lowe was one of those appointed to examine the weight of wool exported from London, and the Queen then wrote to the mayor and aldermen asking that he should be discharged as alderman or sheriff ‘if such should be thought meet for him’: whether on this or some other ground, Lowe refused to serve as a sheriff when chosen in August 1559. It was as a parishioner of St. Magnus the Martyr that he became involved in the foundation of Bangor grammar school, for Maurice Griffith, bishop of Rochester, who bequeathed its endowment to Lowe, (Sir) William Petreand Sir William Garrard, was a former rector: the foundation was completed in 1561.5
Lowe made his will on 20 Jan. 1575, and asked to be buried in St. Magnus. He left all his lands in Surrey to his wife, with an annuity of £100 from property in Lincoln and Northampton which passed to his eldest son Timothy; after her death the second son Thomas was to receive all the houses in London which Lowe had purchased from the Merchant Taylors. The daughters had all married into London merchant families and only the widowed Elizabeth Andrews received a legacy. He appointed as overseers John Rogers, a London grocer, and Henry Jones II. Lowe died in London on 4 Feb. 1578, being succeeded by Timothy then aged 28 years and more. Lowe’s two younger sons had contrasting fortunes, Thomas becoming mayor and receiving a knighthood whereas John was a seminary priest executed at Tyburn in 1586.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. J.W. Swales
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 76; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 52; Glover’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 331.
- 2. C. M. Clode, Guild of Merchant Taylors, i. 151; Recs. Guild of Merchant Taylors, ed. Hopkins, 118-19. Clode, ii. 341 gives Thomas Rowe in error as master in 1557.
- 3. PCC 24 Holgrave, 7 Sheffelde, 33 Martyn, 37 Bakon; C1/1141/76, 1365/80, 84-92, 94-97, 1474/14-15; Req.2/24/70; CPR, 1548-9, p. 371; HMC Wells, ii. 274; Clode, i. 151; SP10/5, f. 74v.
- 4. CJ, i. 29; PCC 26 Morrison.
- 5. SP11/13, ff. 85, 102; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 14, f. 56v; jnl. 17, f. 145v; APC, vi. 386; CPR, 1560-3, p. 156.
- 6. PCC 13 Langley, 22 Scott; Surr. Arch. Colls. iii. 222; C142/182/8; G. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, i. 214-15.