LOWTH, Ambrose (by 1484-1545), of Colchester, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1484. m. Catherine.2

Offices Held

Water bailiff, Colchester by 1505, bailiff 1521-2, 1526-7, 1531-2, alderman by 1522; commr. subsidy 1523, 1524.3


Ambrose Lowth came of a family which appears to have migrated from Middlesex to Colchester about the middle of the 15th century. In 1504-5 he took a 10-year lease, at £24 a year, of the customs and tolls of the New Hythe, the wharf at which vessels reaching the town by the Colne unloaded. A glimpse of his own trade is afforded by the action which he brought in the town’s ‘foreign’ court in 1510 against the rector of St. Leonard’s, Colchester, for failing to deliver 300 polecat skins; he won the case but was awarded only £4 of the £40 he claimed in damages. It was a shipment of grain to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland which he made as the town’s water bailiff that brought him into the court of requests as defendant to a charge that he had misled and intimidated a married woman who had made an agreement with him unbeknown to her husband.4

As Colchester’s most recent bailiff, and a resident whose subsidy assessment in 1524 on goods worth £40 put him among the two dozen richest men there, Lowth was a natural choice to partner the town clerk, Thomas Audley I, in the Parliament of 1523; there is no reason to believe, as there is with Audley, that his election owed anything to outside influence. Yet if, as is likely, both Members served without payment, the choice of Lowth may also have marked a limitation of the town’s freedom of choice. In 1529 both Colchester seats were to go to non-townsmen, and although the names of the Members are then lost until 1545 Lowth was probably not one of them; he was bailiff for the last time in 1531-2 and is said to have lost the liberty of the town in 1539. By a will made on 26 May 1545 and proved on 6 July following he left all his property and goods to his wife, with an option to William Warner to buy a house in Mill Street; he named his wife executrix and John Andrews supervisor.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Colchester Red Ppr. Bk. ed. Benham, 26.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Essex RO, D/ABW/23/42.
  • 3. Colchester Red Ppr. Bk. 26, 28, 29, 31, 57-58; Colchester Oath Bk. ed. Benham, 151, 153; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv.
  • 4. Essex Rev. xlv. 169-70; Colchester Red Ppr. Bk. 57-58; Colchester Oath Bk. 118, 130; Req. 2/12/206; C1/384/34-36, 884/37-39.
  • 5. E179/108/147; Colchester Oath Bk. 159; Essex RO, D/ABW/23/42.