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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

“He was a terrible man and I’m glad he’s dead.”

“He was a terrible man and I’m glad he’s dead.”
James Lowther 1st Earl of Lonsdale 1736 -1802

No more "Mr Nice Guy"

Cumbria, 1802

Excellent News! Sir James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale has fallen off his horse while out riding……. of course he was drunk, when isn’t he? Its gets better though – he broke his stupid neck when he hit the ground.

No, hang on, stop laughing, you haven’t heard the best bit – The miserable bastard’s dead. I know, isn’t it wonderful?

How could a man so unbelievably wealthy be such a total and utter cunt?

No one ever had a good word to say about “Wicked Jimmy”. He was mean, spiteful, vicious, perverted and only ever loved the acquisition of power.

Its little wonder he made such a good politician.

"I'm only happy when I'm being a right bastard" “I’m only happy when I’m being a right bastard”

They called him “The Gloomy Earl” although I’d have been dancing a hornpipe if I’d inherited three separate fortunes at the age of nine.Obviously, I’d have been distraught at the death of father too.

They say he was bullied at Public School, well who isn’t? – being roasted over an open fire by gang of laughing boys builds character. It certainly built his and by the time he left to go to Cambridge University he was the most evil, fag broiling swine of the lot.

He departed Cambridge without a degree but as one of the richest men in England who needs to be a “Bachelor of Latin?” What Jimmy wanted was influence.

His mother had long drummed into him the importance of power and control over such petty considerations as kindness and humanity – She was a cold woman….never remarried.

James took this to heart and asked for the hand of the Prime Ministers daughter, Lady Mary Stuart – a girl for whom he felt little affection but whose father could be of invaluable help in his political ambitions. Of course, this marriage of convenience didn’t stop him Strapping any other woman who took his fancy. He said he had seven mistresses on the go at any one time – “A wench for every day of the week.”

"If they're laughing its not illegal" “If they’re laughing it’s not illegal”

His prowess with the ladies had nothing to do with his appearance. He was forever dressed in black silk, fussing around with a large nosegay in his hand as if the stench of the rest of the world gave him great offence.

And he was strange…very strange.

They say he took both male and female servants to his bed – whether they wanted to go or not and that he enjoyed ritualistically beating them.

Apparently Lowther once cynically persuaded a tenant farmer into allowing his young and beautiful daughter to come and stay with him….For her benefit and advancement, obviously.

"You can trust me I'm a politician" “You can trust me, I’m a politician”

As planned, she immediately became one of the earl’s mistresses but sadly died of fever not long after.

Irritated that he had not “Had his money’s worth” Lowther is said to have had her head embalmed and placed in a glass case, which he kept in a cupboard – so he could still “visit” her whenever he chose.

When not romantically distracted by severed heads, Lowther was a skilful political schemer. In 1781 he became the patron of a young barrister by the name of William Pitt who was campaigning to win a parliamentary seat in Appleby.

Appleby was a pocket borough made up primarily of tenants who owed their voting allegiance to one man. That man was James Lowther so unsurprisingly Pitt won his seat – although he’d never actually visited Appleby in his life.

William Pitt the Younger was Chancellor of the Exchequer the following year and Prime Minister the next.

Lowther was an expert at manipulating votes and using his wealth to get the results he wanted. In the general elections between 1780 and 1784 no less than nine of the winning candidates – “Lowther’s Ninepins” were directly controlled or heavily influenced by him.

Prime Minister Pitt showered him with titles – he became “baron this” and “viscount that” and was elevated to the peerage.

But he still wasn’t entirely happy because in the list of peerages that year two other gentlemen had been awarded their honours ahead of him. He loudly complained in the House of Commons and had to be led out of the building in a headlock.

"You can't choke me you peasant, I'm a Peer of the Realm" “You can’t choke me you peasant, I’m a Peer of the Realm”

His irritation however was soon replaced by arrogance.

Lowther challenged an army captain to a duel because he had the temerity to stop his coach on a busy street – “You rascal, do you not know I am a peer of the realm”? he spat from the window.   The captain – who was just following orders would have been killed if Lowther’s bullet hadn’t bounced off one of his brass buttons.

Not that he would have swung for it

He was a madman too influential to be imprisoned.

Unless it was to further his own ends he had an almost unnatural aversion to spending any of his great wealth. Lowther Hall was a burnt out ruin following a fire in 1720. He lived in its crumbling shell because he refused to pay for its repair.

The mines which were the mainstay of one of his fortunes were in such a poor state that miners – who worked in appalling conditions – regularly perished in accidents.When one of them threatened to sue, he promptly closed them down making all of the miners unemployed. He said he would only re open them when he received a petition of at least 2,500 signatures begging him to do so and stating that he was no longer legally accountable for any further deaths.

"Lazy,work-shy scroungers - A ritual beating would sort them out" “Lazy,work-shy scroungers – A ritual beating would sort them out”

The miners were desperate. He got his petition.

Do you know, he refused to pay the father of the poet William Wordsworth for years – he was a solicitor-  leaving his family horribly in debt. Young William grew up in poverty and it’s no surprise he was passionately in favour of the French Revolution where the idle rich got their comeuppance.

The only evidence that this mean-spirited bastard had any heart at all is his devotion to his favourite mistress.

Even that was perverse

Betsey Lewes had shared his bed for twenty-five years when she died in ‘97. Not used to having his possessions taken from him before he could discard them Lowther simply refused to accept she’d croaked. He propped the corpse up at the dining table, dressed in her finest clothes and acted as if nothing had happened.

When, weeks later, the smell of his decomposing dining companion became too much even for him to bear, he had her embalmed and sealed in a glass-topped coffin before finally agreeing to her burial.

"If I said you were a beautiful body would......" “If I said you were a beautiful body would……”

He was forever riding his horse at breakneck speed with absolutely no consideration for anyone who might get in his way so it no surprise that he finally met his end this way.

No one shed a tear.

There was a rumour that he had been poisoned with a draft that mimicked death and that faint knocking from his coffin at the funeral meant that he had been buried alive

But that was just wishful thinking.







Heartfelt Tributes paid to Sir James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale

“Tyrannical, overbearing, violent, and frequently under no restraint of temper or of reason”

“Equally unamiable in public and private’.

“Lonsdale had a most tyrannical temper and not a spark of gratitude”

 “Shocking ferocity and undignified manner of living”

“One of the most worthless men in his Majesty’s dominions, you never hear him spoken of but with the greatest abhorrence.”


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