Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


James Stanley Lowe (1829–1911)

Mayor of Oxford 1880/1

James Stanley Lowe was born in 1829 in Bristol.

At the time of the 1851 census James Stanley Lowe (21) was an assistant to the iron merchant Charles Nichols in St Helen’s parish, Abingdon.

In the June quarter of 1860 in the Wallingford registration district, James Stanley Lowe, who was then about 30, married 18-year-old Emma Payne of Banbury. They do not appear to have had any children.

They settled in Oxford, and the 1861 census shows James (31), described as a leather merchant and ironmonger who employed five men and two apprentices, living with his wife Emma (19) in Park Town. Also in the household were Emma’s two little sisters: Katherine (5) and Margaret (2) and two maidservants.

In about 1862 Lowe was elected on to the city council.

The Post Office Directory of 1864 lists Lowe as an “ironmonger, gas fitter & bell hanger” at 31 Cornmarket Street: this shop was at the north-east end of Cornmarket and turned around into Broad Street at the back, which probably explains the listing in Mathieson’s Directory of 1867 for James S. Lowe as a “leather seller and grindery warehouse” in Broad Street. Webster’s 1869 directory lists Lowe as a “furnishing and general ironmonger” at 31 Cornmarket Street,.

The 1869 directory shows that the Lowes were now living (with two other people) at The Priory in Church Way, Iffley village. In the 1871 census for Iffley, Lowe (41), described as an ironmonger employing seven assistants, was living at the Priory with his wife Emma (29) and Emma’s brother George Payne (21), who was described as an ironmonger’s assistant). They now had just one servant.

In 1872 the family moved to Alderley Lodge at 16 Bradmore Road. This house, designed by Frederick Codd and pictured below, was newly built that year, and Lowe must have rented it from the leaseholder, the grocer Charles Underhill, whom Lowe would have known on the council.

Alderley Lodge in 2007

In 1880 James Stanley Lowe was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1880/1).

In the 1881 census Lowe (51), described as Mayor of Oxford and an ironmonger employing five men and two boys, was living at Alderley Lodge with his wife Emma (39), and two 14-year-old schoolgirls, namely his niece Florence Lowe and a boarder, Florence Downing. The household had just one servant.

In 1882 Lowe sold his shop at 31 Cornmarket to Arthur Pearson. It initially kept the name Lowe & Co., but soon took Pearson’s name. (It was rebuilt in 1912 and was eventually to become Boswell’s.)

On 12 July 1883 Lowe was elected an Alderman.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 12 February 1887 reports how Lowe appeared at the Oxford City Police Court for a minor offence:

James Stanley Lowe, a Justice of the Peace, of 16, Bradmore-road, pleaded guilty, through Supt. Head, to not clearing his footpath on the 15th ult. – P.C. King said that about four feet in width had been cleared out of ten feet. – Fined 1s. and 6s. costs.

Lowe did not retire after selling his shop in 1882, and he ran a business together with another Mayor of Oxford, Jason Saunders, until July 1889. A  notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 3 August 1889 announced:

Notice is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned JASON SAUNDERS and JAMES STANLEY LOWE carrying on business as Railway Contractors, Carriers, and Furniture Van Proprietors at the Mitre Office, and in St. Thomas’s, in the City of Oxford, under the style or firm of Saunders and Co., has been Dissolved by mutual consent as and from the 31st day of July, 1889.

In the 1891 census, James Lowe  (61) was still described as a “household removal contractor”, and a directory for that year describes him as a “furniture van proprietor, contractor for household removals, & for warehousing furniture” in the yard of the Clarendon Hotel on the west side of Cornmarket. He was still living at Alderley Lodge. His wife was away, and his niece Florence Lowe (24), who was now a General Knowledge teacher, was still living with them. .

The Lowes remained in their Bradmore Road house until 1893, when they moved away from Oxfordshire.

At the time of the 1901 census they were living at 3 Bromley Road in Beckenham, Kent: Lowe (71) was described as a Justice of the Peace, and his wife Emma (59) as the Principal of a school, and boarding with them were a mathematical and a music mistress, and fifteen girl students aged between 9 and 17. They had three servants: a cook and two housemaids.

His wife Emma Payne Lowe died at the Hall, Beckenham, Kent at the age of 65 on 27 November 1906. Her effects came to £6,952 5s. 5d., and her executors were her husband, the draper Sidney Louis Hawkins, and her solicitor.

† James Stanley Lowe died at 6 Kimbolton Road, Bedford at the age of 81 on 27 January 1911. His effects came to £253 1s. 4d., considerably less that his wife had left five years earlier.

See also:

  • 1871 Census: Oxford (Iffley): RG10, 1434/107
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Giles): RG11, 1500/17
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Giles 4): RG12, 1166/79
  • 1901 Census: Beckenham (St George’s): RG13, 687/62

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 February, 2020

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