When I was in Liverpool a lot of people told me that Lowry was a common last name. I asked my sister Colleen about the orgins of our Lowry ancestors. She responded with an email full of information. She gave so much great information that I felt like I should preserve it as a blog.
…so here is what she wrote in her email:
William Lowry came from Dumfries, Scotland and he settled in Virginia in the late 1600s. He was married to Janet Anderson. His Will in Virginia says that he was from the ‘Kingdom of Scotland’ and there also exists a parish record in Dumfries, Scotland of the marriage of William Lowry to Janet Anderson from around that time.
I’ve heard that there are alot of Lowry’s in England, but usually I’ve heard that most Lowry’s are Scottish, so I don’t know how the English Lowry’s fit into the Lowry Family Tree.
Maybe they came from Scotland originally? and they settled in England? – or there could be another explanation.
The idea of having last names didn’t really start until the late Middle Ages – I don’t know more precisely when it was – but I think maybe in the 1400’s or something like that.
Here’s some information about the Lowry surname:
There’s a wikipedia entry on the ‘Lowery’ name. (Don’t be turned off by the ‘e’ in the Lowery name. Lots of Lowry’s spelled it that way – or else they spelled it as ‘Lowrey.’ We could still be related to Lowry’s of those alternative spellings. They didn’t know how to spell their last names – even in the 1800’s.)
The Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowery
‘Irish families of the Lowery, Lowry, or Lavery name descendfrom the O Labhradha, a sept of the province of Ulster anciently. Inthe later days they are found in County Down near Moira.
Three branches of the name are of record. that of Trin-Lavery (whichhas also been translated as Armstrong – from trean – meaning strong),that of Roe-Lavery, from rua meaning red, and from Baun-Lavery, from’ban’ meaning white.
These Irish families above have remained in the province of Ulsterinto modern times for they are found in counties Armagh, Antrim, andDown in the 1890 birth index. Laverty was located mainly in Ulster aswell at that time.
The ‘Lowry’ surname is also found in Ulster as a result of 17thcentury settlers arriving there from Scotland. Scottish families arefound here under the spelling of Laurie as well. The Earl Belmorefamily is recorded as arriving from Scotland at the time and settlingin County Tyrone, and he was said to be of the Laurie family ofMaxwelton.’
There were (and still are) Lowry’s in Ireland. Many Lowry’s from Ireland also immigrated to America. The author of the wikipedia article doesn’t mention much about the Lowry’s of Scotland except to say that some Lowry’s of Scotland were colonists in Northern Ireland in the 1600s (called the “Ulster plantation”). But other writers believe that the Lowry’s actually originated in Scotland.
For example there is this information that provides more about the Lowry’s of Scotland: (http://members.aol.com/jlowry3402/Lowry.html)
“The Lowrys came from northern Ireland and certainly from Scotland before then……
The Lowry surname is also found in Ulster as a result of 17th century settlers arriving there from Scotland. Scottish families are found here under the spelling of Laurie as well. The Earl of Belmore family is recorded as arriving from Scotland at the time and settling in County Tyrone, and he was said to be of the Laurie family of Maxwelton. The Scottish people from Ulster are often referred to as ‘Scot-Irish’.
The first record of the name Laurie was found in Dumfriesshire [my note: in SCOTLAND] around 1000 AD where the archives record several spellings of the name. Scribes and church officials spelt the name phonetically (from its sound) and thus we have the name variation found today. LAURIE, LAWRIE, LARRIE, LARRY, LAURY, LAWRY, LOWRIE and LOWRY are just some of the more commonly seen variations in Scotland and abroad. This was particularly true for the Laurie’s who moved to Ireland during the time of the Ulster Plantation of 1609, whose surnames through time changed to Lavery, Lowry and O’Lowry.
Clans from Scotland containing forms of the surname Lowry are GORDON (Septs include: Lawrie, Laurie) and MACLAREN (Septs include: Lawrie, Laurie, Lowery, Lowry).
Lowry (Lawrie and Lowrie) is an old Scottish name, for fox; it also means a crafty person.”
Another website says: (http://www.searchforancestors.com/surnames/origin/l/lowry.php)
Signifies in Scotch a crafty person, or one who lowers, that is, contracts his brow; hence a ‘lowry day’–cloudy. Source: An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.
Another website says that the Lowry’s were of Scottish origin and that they can be found living in Scotland from ancient times, well before the 11th century.
As mentioned above, the Lowry’s of Scotland are usually associated with Clan Gordon or with Clan Maclaren. There were ‘septs’ (branches) of both of these two clans that were called by the name of ‘Lawrie, Laurie, Lowery, Lowry.’
So, who can really say if the Lowry’s were originally from Ireland or originally from Scotland? Maybe the Lowry’s in both of those areas took upon themselves the name ‘Lowry’ separately? Maybe they aren’t even related? Or maybe they are related somehow. There was probably traffic and movement between Ireland and Scotland even before the settlement of of the Scottish settlers in northern Ireland in the 1600’s.
For example there is this short paragraph: (http://www.lowrys.info/from_where.htm)
‘It should be remembered that the West Coast of Scotland has very many lochs and two belts of islands; the Inner and Outer Hebrides between the mainland of Scotland and Ireland. It is only 21 miles at its nearest, and there was always the movement between the coasts of fishermen and some small-scale trading In times of crisis, famine or war it was sometimes safer to move family and flocks to another safer and more attractive place. Such escapes were often followed within a generation by a return to the original homeland once conditions had returned to normal. As long ago as the 13 th century there had been the movement of ‘galloglass’ – mercenary soldiers, plying their trade in Ireland who were often paid by giving a plot of land. So there was a Scottish presence which was enhanced considerably when John Mor MacDonnell, Lord of the Isles married Margery Bissett, heiress to some two thirds of the Glynns of Antrim in 1399.’
One more interesting page is: (http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/laurietartan/history.htm)
which focuses upon the Lowry’s being of ‘Lowland Scottish origin’ (as opposed to being ‘Highland Scots’). This website also says that :
‘The most frequently held belief is that Laurie is a diminutive of Laurence, which in turn is thought to derive from the Latin Laurentius meaning ‘of Laurentum’. It is also commonly ascribed the meaning ‘laurel crowned’ or ‘victorious’.’
This writer also says:
‘The ethnic origins of the name are a matter of ongoing speculation. However, populist opinion would have us believe that the name is either Strathclyde British or Norman French in origin. The area populated by the Strathclyde British ranged from the North West of England to Central and West Scotland.’
So, here comes a connection of the Lowry name to the ‘Starthclyde British.’
As you can see, there’s a variety of opinions on the origin of the Lowry surname and where they came from and how the Lowry name got to either Ireland or to Scotland. It seems to me that the subject is still pretty uncertain – nothing is definate.
(Personally, I think the name is more likely to be Scottish in orgin rather than Irish in origin. I think there seems to be a record of Lowry’s living in Scotland earlier than can be found in Ireland.)
Finally, what about the Lowry’s of England? Maybe they are related to the Lowry’s of Scotland and Ireland somehow? Or maybe they took upon themselves the Lowry surname independently?
Well, maybe all of that information was a little confusing???!!!