LOWYS, George (by 1500-53/54), of Winchelsea, Suss.

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 1500. m. Dorothy, 2s.1

Offices Held

Jurat, Winchelsea 1521-d., mayor 1525-7, 1531-4, in 1536, 1537-8, 1551-2; commr. subsidy 1523, 1524; bailiff to Yarmouth 1527, 1529, 1539, 1543, 1548.2


George Lowys was as active for the Cinque Ports in general as for Winchelsea alone: he represented that port at the Brotherhoods in most years between 1521 and his death. At the meeting held immediately after Easter 1527 Lowys was chosen to act as solicitor for the ports as a whole, although in what connexion is not recorded. At Easter 1528 he was to be the ports’ solicitor ‘against the town of Great Yarmouth’, a commission for which he was later paid a fee of 105s.; Rye also paid his fee of £3 10s. when he was bailiff to Yarmouth in 1527 and 1529 and he probably received another £3 10s. from Winchelsea.3

Lowys’s election to the Parliament of 1529 clearly reflected this local prominence, and both his own port and the Brotherhood took advantage of his presence at Westminster to promote their interests. It was probably late in 1530, on the eve of the second session, that the Brotherhood instructed him to ‘solicit all such matters as he has laboured in concerning our charter to make all thing in a readiness atwixt this and the parliament time’: there is no record of a confirmation of the Cinque Ports charter at this time, so that it was probably the charter as it had been renewed in 1510 which Lowys took with him to the Brotherhood in July 1534. In the autumn of 1532, when Parliament stood prorogued, he was busy negotiating between the east and west ports on the supply of ships to the navy. As mayor for the three years 1531-4 he may have found his pluralism burdensome, but there is no clue to his attendance in Parliament before its last session: both on 8 Feb. 1536, when he wrote to the Council about a debtor, and three weeks later, when he was reported to have put the parson of Winchelsea, a reveller, in prison he was presumably in his native town and thus absent from the first month of the session which had begun on 4 Feb. It may be observed, in extenuation, that Lowys seems to have been brought in as mayor for this further term to replace two men who had ceased to fill that office in quick succession, perhaps because they fell victim to the plague which was abroad in Winchelsea at the time. He was probably elected again to the Parliament called for the following June, when the King asked that the previous Members should be returned, a request with which other ports are known to have complied.4

That was the end of Lowys’s parliamentary career and perhaps also of his period of most intense local activity. He was discharged from being bailiff to Yarmouth in 1540, but served again in 1543 and 1548. Rye paid him 15s. in June 1545 for carrying 30 tons of stone from St. Giles’s church, Winchelsea, to the waterside and in 1551 he wrote the Brotherhood’s new custumal at a fee of 7s.6d. When, two years later (18 Sept. 1553), he came to write his will, he prefaced it with an interesting observation: ‘Because auricular confession is now little used, yet remembering the counsel of St. James the Apostle to confess sins one to the other, I confess myself to be a most miserable and wretched sinner.’ The comment has a topical ring, but whether it implies disapproval of recent trends (soon to be reversed) is not certain. The rest of the will was ordinary enough: his horses, sheep, cattle and corn were to be sold to pay his debts, his wife was to be executrix and to have plate and a third of his household stuff, which would later pass to his two young sons, Philip and John, who were each also to have a ring kept for them by a nephew in London until they reached the age of 21. His wife was to have his houses in Winchelsea, with remainder first to his sons and then to his niece and her children. Philip Chute, under whom Lowys had served in the castle on Kevill Point in June 1548, was one of the witnesses. The will was proved on 12 Oct. 1554.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Lewes archdeaconry ct. A3, ff. 126-7.
  • 2. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 183, 193, 195, 198-200, 202, 204, 208-9, 212-13, 215, 221, 223, 238, 243, 244, 246; Cinque Ports white bk. f. 235; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv.
  • 3. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 200, 204; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 4, ff. 171, 190v.
  • 4. Cinque Ports white bk. f. 216; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 215, 219; Weinbaum, Brit. Bor. Charters, 58; Sandwich old red bk. ff. 36v, 37; LP Hen. VIII, ix, x.
  • 5. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 224; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 5, f. 104; Lewes archdeaconry ct. A3, ff. 126-7; APC, ii. 205.