Cardigan People 53: Launcelot Lowther (1825-1905)

Launcelot Lowther
(1825-17 August 1905)

On his retirement as Manager of the Cardigan Mercantile Company in 1901 the Tivy-side described Launcelot Lowther as:

one, if not the best known and most respected businessmen in the town of Cardigan…

A native of Bradford on Avon, he arrived in Cardigan in 1848 as the manager of David Davies, The Castle’s extensive timber merchandise and shipowning business.
Davies’ timber and general merchants’ business was transferred to Davies’ son and to Lowther in 1865, and was carried on under the name ‘Davies and Lowther’ until 1869.
After a short interval Lowther returned to his late partner’s employ as manager, and continued as such until 1876, when the two businesses of D. G. Davies and Thomas Davies merged as the Cardigan Mercantile Company. Thomas Davies was the Managing Director and Lowther the Secretary.

Balance Sheet, 1876-7

Lowther’s public career began in November 1865 when he became a member of the Town Council. His opponent John James, smith withdrew before the election.
The affair of the Corporation at this time ‘were in a most deplorable state, the accounts not having been made up or audited for over ten years.’ His business acumen led him to sort the mess out and in a Council meeting on 16th August 1867 it was declared:

This meeting considers that Mr Lowther merits the grateful acknowledgement of the inhabitants and Ratepayers of the Borough of Cardigan for undertaking and performing the herculean task of bringing the Corporation accounts out of the chaotic state in which the same have been so long allowed to remain, into such a form as to be capable of being understood and investigated, and that he should be properly remunerated for his services.

A public meeting was called and a sum of £20 offered as a recognition of his kind-heartedness. He was also offered the office of Mayor at this time but declined.
[After spending 2 years sorting the accounts out he probably though he had had enough – life was too short!] Indeed things did not go too well in the early 1870s as by 26 Jan 1872 he had been declared bankrupt and lost his seat on the Borough Council.

He had been Secretary of the Cardigan Mechanics’ Institute since 1849 and had devoted as much time and energy to sort the finances of this organisation. For his efforts he was given a watch with the inscription:

In recognition of his unswerving zeal and efficient conduct as hon. secretary.

He took a very active part in the formation of the Cardigan Steam Navigation Company, owning the ss Tivy-side, which was the first steamer to run direct between Cardigan and Bristol. Lowther was the company secretary until the company was wound up and the vessel sold.

It was due to combined efforts of Thomas Davies and Lowther that Cardigan was supplied with gas, having formed the Cardigan Gas Company in 1865, with Lowther the secretary from the start until he was obliged to resign owing to ill health in 1902.

He was able to boast that he was the actual founder of the Loyal Glantivy Lodge of Oddfellows.

During his 50 years connection with the Bridge-End business he trained at least 30 young men up to business – nearly all holding responsible positions in London, Cardiff and other large commercial centres.

For 40 years he was connected with Hope Congregational Chapel as member and deacon. During his lifetime he lived in Bridge St., mainly in St Mary St., and then Priory St.
He married Elizabeth (Morgan) at Carmarthen on 12 Oct 1854 and had 10 children before divorcing in 1878:
Helen (1855-1944); Launcelot Ethelbert (1857-); Thomas William (1858-1943); Beatrice (1860-1927); Herbert Reginald (1863-1936); Arthur (1866-); Charles Leopold (1868-1943); Francis Llewellyn (1870-1948, Headmaster at Milford Haven); Laura Sophia (1873-96, a music teacher, St Mary St.); and Eleanor J. (1879-).

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