Inscription to John Samuel LOWE (born 1868, wrongly presumed dead in 1916)
His wife Mrs Florence Alice Louisa LOWE, née Sheppard
Their daughter Daisy Louisa Florence LOWE (1890–1910)
Inscription to their sons William Alfred St John LOWE (1891–1918) and
John Randolph Sherbrook LOWE (1893–1916), both died in the First World War
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 34, Grave L56½
On curved headstone:
IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF
FELL ASLEEP MAY 21, 1910 AGED 19 YEARS
On curved footstone:
"THY WILL BE DONE
The other (later) inscriptions are all
on the two side kerbs, as follows:
AND OF HER FATHER
JOHN SAMUEL LOWE,
PRESUMED DIED SEPTEMBER 7TH 1916
AND OF HER EVER LOVING MOTHER FLORENCE ALICE LOUISA LOWE
WHO IN FULFILMENT OF HER PROMISE REST[?S] HERE WITH HER DAUGHTER
DIED DECEMBER 29TH 1949
IN HER 80TH YEAR
[See below for the inscriptions
to Daisy's brothers John and William
who died in the First World War]
John Samuel Lowe was born at Broad Street, Oxford in 1868 and baptised at St Michael’s Church on 27 September. He was the son of John Lowe (born in Watlington in 1837/8 and baptised there on 8 January 1838, the son of the unmarried lacemaker Anne Lowe) and Henrietta Castle (born in Wallingford in 1838 and baptised at St Peter’s Church there on 31 December, the daughter of the fruiterer Henry Castle and his wife Jane). His parents were married in Reading near the beginning of 1862, and they came to live in Oxford, where John’s father worked as a cab proprietor.
At the time of the 1871 census John (2) was living at Saunders Passage, which was behind 21 Broad Street, with his parents and his sisters Henrietta (8), Rosa (7), and Edith (three months). In 1881, when he was a schoolboy of 12, he was living at 40 Gloucester Green with his parents. His father was still a cab proprietor and his mother was now a dressmaker, and five of his siblings were at home: Rosa (17), who was working as a servant, Jesse (8), Alice (6), Margaret (2), and Lionel (nine months).
On 17 April 1886 Elizabeth Walklett of 7 Cranham Terrace appears to have borne his child, but he was only 17 and did not marry the mother. The child was baptised at St Paul’s Church as Gertrude Julia Enser on 17 September 1886, but with John Samuel Lowe recorded in the parish register as the father: her birth had been registered in the quarter to the end of June with the surname Enser. She was brought up at 97 Cardigan Street by the paperhanger James Enser and his wife Harriet Emma Hawkett, who had no children of their own: at first they described her as their niece, and later as their daughter.
Florence Alice Louise Sheppard was born at Bridport Street, Oxford in 1870 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church, St Ebbe’s on 25 December. She was the daughter of William Sheppard (born in Haseley in 1842/3) and his wife Louisa (born in Oxford in 1840/1): her father may the the William Charles Sheppard who married Louisa Smith in Oxford in 1868. Her father was variously described as a porter, or a hotel waiter or “boots”. At the time of the 1881 census she was aged ten and living at Pembroke Street, St Ebbe’s with her parents and her older brother William (12).
On 1 January 1890 at St Ebbe's Church, Oxford, John Samuel Lowe (21) married Florence Alice Louisa Sheppard (19): they were both living at Pembroke Street at the time of their marriage, and it was possible that he was lodging with her parents. They had the following children:
- Daisy Louisa Florence Lowe (born at 11 Beaumont Buildings, Oxford in 1890 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 26 October)
- William Alfred St John Lowe (born at 7 Worcester Street, Oxford on 10 October 1891 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 22 November)
- John Randolph Sherbrooke Lowe (born at 70 Bullingdon Road, Oxford in 1893 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 15 April 1894)
- Twins: Thomas Kingston Shepherd Lowe and Henry Castle Francis Coster Lowe (born at 70 Bullingdon Road in 1896 and privately baptised by Ss Mary & John Church on 24 June); both died aged one month and were buried at the churchyard in the same coffin on 31 July
- Reginald Lawrence Lowe (born at 62 Cowley Road on 2 November 1897 and baptised at Ss Mary & John Church on 26 November)
- Stanley Horace Edward Lowe (born at 15 Gloucester Lane on 31 July 1903 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 4 October)
- Samuel Leslie Louis Lowe (born at 5 Beef Lane, Oxford on 4 April 1906 and baptised at St Ebbe’s Church on 2 September).
John and Florence Lowe began their married life at 11 Beaumont Buildings, where they can be seen at the time of the 1891 census with their baby daughter Daisy (six months). At her baptism in 1890 John Lowe had described himself as a financial agent, but in the census he stated that he was a college servant.
The family moved to 7 Worcester Street later that year, and at William’s baptism John is described (rather surprisingly, so it may be an error) as a saddler.
At the time of John junior’s baptism in early 1894 they were living at 70 Bullingdon Road in east Oxford, and John was described as a clerk. By the end of 1897 they had moved to 62 Cowley Road.
Florence (30) spent the census night of 1901 at 15 Gloucester Lane with her children Daisy (1), William (9), John (7), and Reginald (3). Her husband was away from home, and he was described as a commercial traveller at the time of the baptism of her next two children in 1903 and 1906. She was living in Beef Lane in St Ebbe’s in the latter year.
Florence and the children were living at 33 Gloucester Green when her daughter Daisy died in 1910:
† Daisy Louisa Florence Lowe died at 33 Gloucester Green at the age of 19 on 21 May 1910 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 25 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).
By the time of the 1911 census Florence (40) was a lodging house keeper at 153 Walton Street, and her husband had now left her for good, as although she recorded that she was married, she described herself as the head of the household. She had four of her children with her: John (17), who was now a college servant, and Reginald (13), Stanley (7), and Samuel (4). Her other son William (19) was a cook at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham.
By 1916 Florence and her sons had moved to 2 St John Street, and it appears that she had not seen her husband John Samuel Lowe since 7 May 1909, because the statutory seven years must have passed on 7 May 1916 when he was presumed dead. She had the following lettering added to her daughter’s gravestone:
The First World War
Two of Florence and John Lowe’s sons, John and William, died in the First World War after volunteering
to fight, and both are remembered on the war memorial at St Mary Magdalen Church:
John Randolph Sherbrooke Lowe
John served as a Private in “D” Company, 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 201048).
He was reported as missing in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 26 September 1915, but must have been found, as he was evidently fighting again nearly a year later. He died in France at the age of 23 on 13 August 1916. CWGC page
He is buried in the Pozières British Cemetery at Ovillers-La Boisselle (Grave ref. IV.A.44).
His photograph (left) appeared in the “Heroes of the War” section of the Oxford Journal Illustrated on 20 September 1916 (left).
His mother had the above lettering added to his sister Daisy’s grave:
ALSO OF HER BROTHER JOHN RANDOLPH LOWE,
¼ [1st/4th Battalion] O.B.L.I. KILLED IN ACTION AT THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME / AUGUST 12 1916 AGED 23 YEARS
William Alfred Lowe
William served as a Private in the 11th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment (Service No. 24684).
After three years of active service he died in Greece of pneumonia at the age of 27 on 14 November 1918, three days after the Armistice.
He is buried in the Struma Military Cemetery (Grave ref. VII.J.11). CWGC page
His photograph (right) appeared in the “Heroes of the War” section of the Oxford Journal Illustrated, on 15 January 1919, two months after his death.
His mother had the lettering below added to his sister Daisy’s grave:
AND WILLIAM ALFRED ST JOHN LOWE, WORCESTER REGT.
DIED AT SALONIKA AFTER 3 YEARS’ ACTIVE SERVICE / NOVEMBER 14TH 1918, AGED 27 YEARS
Mrs Florence Lowe had moved to 84 Arthray Road in Botley (then in Berkshire) by 1945. She died there in 1949, and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery with her daughter Daisy who had died nearly forty years earlier:
† Mrs Florence Alice Louise Lowe, née Sheppard died at 84 Arthray Road, Botley at the age of 79 on 29 December 1949 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery with her daughter (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church, but no date given).
The three surviving children of John Samuel Lowe and Florence Sheppard
- Reginald Lawrence Lowe (born 1897), described as an engineer of 2 St John Street, married Edith Ivy Ellen Stroud of 49 St John Street, the daughter of the baker George Stroud, at St Mary Magdalen Church in Oxford on 23 June 1930. They were living at 3A Pusey Street, Oxford in 1935. Reginald died on 25 February 1960 at St Joseph’s Nursing Home, Boars Hill, and his home was then at Elmstead, 13 Cumnor Rise Road. His effects came to £22,132 11s. 2d.
- Stanley Horace Edward Lowe (born 1903) married Annie Ermintrude Slayter in Reading in 1927. He died in Newton Abbot near the beginning of 1975.
- Samuel Leslie Louis Lowe (born 1906) is hard to find after 1911, when he was at home with his mother in Oxford.
What actually happened to John Samuel Lowe, aka John Stanley Lowe?
John Lowe, who would probably have frequently travelled between Oxford and London as a wine agent, had children by at least two other women in London, and later by two in the USA (one of whom thought she was married to him).
The first known relationship was with a woman called Edith (born in Highgate in 1876/7. She had a baby by him:
- Edith (born in Islington in 1900/1, not registered with the surname Lowe)
John spent the census night of 1901 at 47 Ellington Street, Islington with his “wife” Edith Lowe (born in Highgate in 1877) and their one-year-old daughter, also recorded as Edith Lowe. He does not appear to have gone through a marriage ceremony with Edith. He was still spending time with his real wife in Oxford, who was to bear him two more children in 1903 and 1906.
His next relationship in London was with Ivy Kate Mitchell (born in Farnham in 1879, died 1968), and it was about now that he started to adopt the middle name Stanley as well as or instead of Samuel. Around the same time that his wife was giving birth to her two youngest sons in Oxford, Ivy had three children by him:
- John Eric Iveagh Lowe (born 28 December 1902 at 2 Leathwaite Road, Battersea, London; father’s name given as John Stanley Samuel Lowe)
- Mirabelle Ivy Enid Lowe (born 17 August 1905 at 109 Gaskarth Road, Balham, London; father’s name given as John Stanley Lowe)
- Edna Doreen Mary L. Lowe (born 25 December 1907 at 86 Woodbridge Road, Guildford, Surrey; father’s name given as John Stanley Lowe).
Ivy too was abandoned, and at the time of the 1911 census she had reverted to her maiden name of Mitchell and was living with her widowed grandmother Mrs Elizabeth Mitchell (84) at 50 Artillery Road, Guildford. Only one of her daughters (Mirabelle Lowe, aged 5) was with her; Edna (3) was staying as a visitor in the Jay household in Woking, and John Eric Iveagh Lowe was living with his grandfather Thomas Lowe (62), a brick tile manufacturer, in Farnham.
John’s next partner lasted longer: she was Mrs Gertrude Lilian Carlin, née Radford (born at Fulham on 1 January 1876). Gertrude’s husband William H. Carlin had died on 15 January 1908, and at the time of the 1911 census John Stanley Lowe (41), an agent for champagne and brandy, was living at 136 Cambridge Street in Pimlico with Gertrude (who said she was 31, but was in fact 35). She called herself Lowe and they claimed to have been married for seven years, but no marriage can be found in England & Wales.
In 1905 Gertrude emigrated to the USA, and on 26 June 1911 John Stanley Lowe sailed on the Baltic from Liverpool, arriving at New York on 26 June: he named his closest relative in England as Mrs Lowe of 153 Walton Street, which is crucial evidence in proving that John Samuel Lowe and John Stanley Lowe were the same person. He settled in Los Angeles, and lodged a Declaration of Intent for US Citizenship in 1912, giving his date of birth as 26 August 1872 (rather than 1868) and his middle name as Stanley. He evidently went back to living with Gertrude, and had one child by her:
- Margaret (Marjorie) Lowe (born at Los Angeles on 6 April 1913).
He remained in the USA, and was granted citizenship along with Gertrude in 1919.
He and Gertrude separated, and she thenceforth described herself as divorced (although it was dubious whether they had ever been married): she died in Los Angeles on 25 July 1955, aged 79. His next partner was Louise R. Bickley (born 1893), and they had two children:
- Patricia S. Lowe (born 1924)
- John Stanley Lowe junior (born 1925).
John Samuel/Stanley Lowe senior died in Los Angeles in the 1930s (it is unclear whether his gravestone in Mountain View Cemetery says 1930, 1936, or 1938). Louise died in 1987.
With thanks to:
The Devon Mitchells website
for information on John S. Lowe’s life in England with Ivy Kate Mitchell after 1901
Susan’s question about her ancestor John S. Lowe on the Genes Reunited site
which provided useful information about John’s life in the USA and his family there