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Lowe, Mary Elizabeth (1845 - 1925)


Photograph courtesy of Barbara Williamson 2018

Brauncewell churchyard:


1845 Brauncewell Manor, Sleaford
1871 Census - Rippingale, Lincs.
1876 New Basford, Notts.
1900 (about) Bahamas
1913 ? UK, Swansea
1922 New York
1925 Yonkers, USA

Additional links

Annotated documentation of the Lowe family of
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Biographical notes

Mary Elizabeth Lowe features in lists of British botanists as a result of her success in the 1864 RHS Botanical Competition. Her herbarium remains untraced. Better known is her uncle John Lowe, surgeon of Sleaford and later King's-Lynn and London, who was a member of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. He had published a paper on the Flora of the Sleaford district in their Transactions of 1856 and was, no doubt, a strong influence on Mary's botanical interest.

Her father, Ralph, was the fourth son of farmer/grazier Thomas Lowe who's large family of nine sons and two daughters was dominated by farmers, surgeons and a single cleric. With origins in Cheadle, Staffordshire, much of Thomas' family had settled near Sleaford by the 1830s. Mary's uncle John was the youngest of Thomas' sons and only 15 years or so older than her. Ralph, like his father, married twice and raised a family of ten sons and three daughters, of which Mary was the eldest.

Her first marriage was to surgeon (Samuel) John (Beckit-) Truman in 1870, with whom she had three sons and two daughters. Dr Truman died in 1881 and her whereabouts are rather hazy for the next two decades. In 1891 the census gives her occupation as "Matron of Institution". In 1896 she was married, in Glasgow, to Civil Servant Francis Armstrong, the younger brother of her own son-in-law! Soon after this she moved to the Bahamas where Francis may have had some official appointment. After being widowed in 1912 she appears to have moved back to the UK where she resided for some time in Swansea. In 1922 she left Britain for New York, where her daughter Edith had long been settled, and died in Yonkers in 1925.
1845 : Birth Mary Elizabeth was born at Brauncewell Manor, Lincolnshire, the eldest daughter of farmer Ralph Lowe and his second wife Sarah Elizabeth Cox. Her birth was registered in near-by Sleaford in the second quarter of the year.
1864 : RHS Botanical competition A silver medal was awarded for her collection of Lincolnshire plants in this year -
"Miss Mary E. Lowe, Beauncrevell Manor, Sleaford"
This garbled version of her address apperared in the list of prize winners in 1865.
1870 November 30 : Marriage to John Truman 11870 December 9: Lincolnshire Chronicle
MARRIAGES. At Brauncewell, on the 30th ult (by the Rev M J Truman, brother of the bridegroom, assisted by the Rev H Ashington, rector), Sandel [sic] John Truman, surgeon, of Rippingale, son of Beckit Truman, esq. Nottingham, to Mary Elizabeth eldest daughter of Ralph Lowe, esq. Brauncewell.
1881 March 2 :
Death of husband
11881 March 9: Pall Mall Gazette
DEATHS. TRUMAN, Mr. Samuel J., M.R.C.S.E., son of the late Mr. Beckit Truman, of Nottingham, at New Basford, Notts, aged 35, March 2.
1896 January 13 : Marriage to Francis Armstrong 11896 January 15: Edinburgh Evening News
MARRIAGES. At the Central Station Hotel, Glasgow, on the 13th inst. by the Rev. J. B. Armstrong (brother of the bridegroom), Francis Armstrong, to Mary Elizabeth, widow of the late Dr John Truman.
1912 September 18 :
Death of husband
The Bahamas Civil Registers record the death of Francis Armstrong (54), Civil Servant, at Cherokee Sound.
1922 March 25 :
To New York
The passenger lists of the Mauretania contain Mary Armstrong, last residence in UK Swansea, nearest relative in UK sister Mrs Sopper of Woodbridge. Her age is optimistically given as 69 years 10 months but she was actually about 77. She is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall with a dark complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. She is intending to visit her daughter Mrs. [Edith] Bethell in New York.
1925 February 8 :
Death, Yonkers, USA
Her date and place of death are provided by the Probate Register which records that her last UK address was 11 Gwydr-crescent, Swansea, and that probate was granted to her spinster niece Annie May Sopper.
In 1911 the house was occupied by William Pickering Smith, solicitor, and his wife Edith Elizabeth (née Sykes). Their exact relationship to Mary is unclear but Edith's father, Rev. William Sykes, was at one time the incumbent of Dorrington, Lincolnshire, and had officiated at marriages of the Lowe family.

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton : last updated 10 March 2018