LOW, Willian, 19th century

April 2002

Debbi Neale of Scotch Creek, BC, Canada, says Thank you for a wonderful and so interesting website. A few years ago, my mother-in-law confessed that she had missed her family her whole life...her mom died young and a wicked stepmother threw most things out. So I started my search for her Turner relatives with only a 'family tree' her mom left and a newspaper article written in 1926. I tell you this because all the searches census, BMD, FamilySearch, rootsweb, etc. have not matched one thing Mum's mom left. Part of her story was that she (b. 1892 or 1894 in Edmonton, Alberta) had married ARTHUR M. LOWE in Toronto in 1914 and he had died in WW1. She said she had been a 'nurse volunteer' in London and France. And that their 5 year daughter had died in a fall down the Lowe family mansion stairs in Toronto about 1919. Hence, she came to Vancouver, remarried.

My search turned up a letter written by Reverend Arthur Edward Low to the Official Secretary of Australia -in 1925- searching for his daughter-in-law, Audrey Alberta Turner Low or Lowe. And wanting the inquiry to be discreet (translate-don't tell her) and also asking if it was possible to find out whether she had obtained her divorce. Reverend Low was writing from the Vicarage of Paddock Wood, Kent.

I have found out that he was from near Royston and from a well-to-do family?? The 1881 census shows him (?) as a student at Cambridge. A clerical listing says he was in Port Sydney, Ontario at a non-conformist church and retired about 1919 - 1920. And then re-appears as the Reverend of CoE, St. Lukes, Kent. Or is it his son??

I do have a picture taken at Folkestone in 1916 showing Audrey on a beach with a Donald Low, Monica Low and Eustace Low. I have no doubt that Audrey was a V.A.D. but cannot confirm this but Mum remembers a picture of her with a headdress. I have a picture of Arthur M. Lowe near Toronto dated 1914.

The Lowe drops and gains the e frequently.

Among Mum's mom writings: she says her grandparents are from Ireland to Newcastle, England. And had many Turner siblings She also wrote that her dad, Stanley Moreland Turner married Alice Walton from Walton-on-Trent, Essex. And claims a lighthouse keeper from Plymouth as a grandparent. (checked with Trinity House etc to no avail) And I (plus others) can find not one Alice Walton born in Essex in 1866. Mum had a diamond(?) brooch shaped like a swastika that came from Alice Walton Turner. Unfortunately, she didn't realize that it was a 'good' symbol and hid it away and it's now lost. (My husband and his sibs remember scratching glass with it.) And more: but, like I said, no births, deaths, names turn up. Anywhere or anytime. Audrey left deceptive information for some good reason.

You have an extensive grasp of searching. Is there anything you can tell me about the Low(e)s  from Royston, Hertfordshire? (I searched this site and see a few Lowe's but Arthur is not...) Or if they existed. And possibly any guesses about Walton from Walton...I've been to Walton-on-Naze, Walton-on-Trent, Walton here and there. Walton from Walton sounds iffy also???

Well, the short version of a long story but you have given such good and useful advice to others.

As this is a Hertfordshire site I am concentrating on the only link with Hertfordshire, which is the Rev. Arthur Edward Low.

The Church Directory and Almanack for 1933 contains the following entry:

Low, A. E., M.A. Camb., d '82, p '83, v. Matfield, Paddock Wood, Kent (Roch.) '23 350 * 670

This shows that he was trained at Cambridge University and became a deacon in 1882 and a priest in 1883. He was vicar of the parish of Matfield in the diocese of Rochester from 1923. The living was worth 350 and included a house, the population of the parish being 670.

This fits in well with the 1881 census which shows an Arthur E. Low (22, Undergraduate at Cambridge, born Willian, Herts) living with his parents James (56, farmer of 1147 acres, born Clophill, Beds) and Ellen (53, born Potton, Beds) at The Hall, Great Chishall, Essex. There were 4 siblings - James Robert (24), Frank W (23), Ellen Eliz. (18) and Florence A. (17) - all born at Willian. There was also a visitor (a cousin?), Waldron W. Low, a farmers son born at Clifton, Bedfordshire. (Details of Cambridge graduates over the centuries have been published and this should confirm Arthur's father's name.) Willian is a tiny village between Hitchin and Baldock and there is no way it could be described as near Royston by "Hertfordshire distance" standards - and it is not clear from your account where the mention of Royston comes in.

It would appear that James Low and his family moved from Willian sometime between 1865 and 1881. The 1882 Kelly's Directory entry for Willian shows that 1207 acres of the parish, including nearly the whole village, was purchased in 1868 from the family of the late Baron Dimsdale by Mr. C. F. Hancock. Possibly James Low was one of Baron Dimsdale's tenants and moved at this time.

A quick check of the IGI at familysearch shows that it includes Arthur's baptism at Willian (and several siblings) and also his father's baptism at Clophill. I couldn't see James and Ellen's marriage - but this is not surprising (see the limits of familysearch) but you should be able to buy their marriage certificate.

As Arthur Edward Low was a minister in the Church of England - and presumably in one of the Empire's Anglican churches when he was overseas - it should be possible to trace his movements in Crockford's Clerical Directory, which has been published annually since 1858. I can't speak for the earliest editions but I know that later editions include a brief list, with dates, of earlier church positions. This may mean that any edition between 1924 and 1933 (perhaps later) will record his movements between graduating and becoming the vicar of Matfield in 1923 - which may help track down his family.

Oh what a tangled web we weave ...

While Arthur M Low may have no direct Hertfordshire connections it may well be that he was not killed in WW1. Not all marriages prove successful - and if a couple split up it would not be socially acceptable to admit it - so a single mother would need to invent a story to explain her missing husband - and what better one than "killed in the war". One of my relatives was ostracised at about that time because she had left her husband (the shame being compounded because he was a clergyman). One of my wife's great uncles described himself as a bachelor when he married in Australia - conveniently forgetting that the woman he had married in New Zealand had gone back to England, where she received a payment (the reason is not explicitly stated in the surviving paperwork) from her sister-in-law. The Rev. A. E. Low may well have written to Australia to find out the status of his son (who may have been planning to remarry) as I am sure, as a minister of the Church of England, the Rev. Low would not want to be a party to an illegal bigamous marriage.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

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