James Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullswater

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The Viscount Ullswater

JW Lowther by Laszlo.jpg
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
June 1905 – April 1921
MonarchEdward VII
George V
Preceded bySir William Gully
Succeeded byJ. H. Whitley
Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons
Chairman of Ways and Means
In office
1895 – June 1905
Edward VII
Preceded byJohn William Mellor
Succeeded bySir John Lawson, Bt
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
22 September 1891 – 18 August 1892
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded bySir James Fergusson, Bt
Succeeded bySir Edward Grey, Bt
Member of Parliament
for Penrith and Cockermouth
In office
14 December 1918 – 13 May 1921
Preceded byconstituency established
Succeeded byCecil Lowther
Member of Parliament
for Penrith
In office
27 July 1886 – 14 December 1918
Preceded byHenry Howard
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Member of Parliament
for Rutland
In office
1 September 1883 – 18 December 1885
Preceded byGerard Noel
Succeeded byGeorge Finch
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
8 July 1921 – 27 March 1949
Hereditary peerage
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded byThe 2nd Viscount Ullswater
Personal details
Born1 April 1855 (1855-04)
Died27 March 1949(1949-03-27) (aged 93)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Mary Beresford-Hope (d. 1944)
Alma materKing's College London
Trinity College, Cambridge

James William Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullswater, GCB, PC, JP, DL (1 April 1855 – 27 March 1949), was a British Conservative politician. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons between 1905 and 1921.

Background and education[edit]

The son of Hon. William Lowther, a grandson of William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale and for 25 years Member of Parliament for Westmorland, and Alice, 3rd daughter of James Parke, 1st Baron Wensleydale, Lowther was educated at Eton College, King's College London where he took an Associateship degree, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied classics and law.[1] Lowther became a barrister in 1879, eventually becoming a Bencher of the Inner Temple in 1906.

Political career[edit]

He was Member of Parliament for Rutland in 1883; contested Mid Cumberland in 1885; and sat for Penrith from 1886–1921. He was appointed 4th Charity Commissioner in 1887, and held junior ministerial office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1891–1892. He was Chairman of Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker from 1895–1905 and Speaker of the House of Commons from 1905–1921.

There are three golden rules for Parliamentary speakers: Stand up. Speak up. Shut up.

— J. W. Lowther, 1917

Other public appointments[edit]

Lowther caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1906

Lowther represented Great Britain at the International Conference at Venice in 1892, and at the International Conference on Emigration at Rome in 1924. He was Chairman of the Speakers' Electoral Reform Conference in 1916–1917, of the Buckingham Palace Conference (on the partition of Ulster) in 1914, of the Boundary Commissions (Great Britain and Ireland) in 1917, of the Royal Commission on Proportional Representation in 1918, Devolution Conference in 1919, of the Royal Commission on London Government, 1921–1922; of Review Committee Political Honours, 1923–1924, and Statutory Commission on Cambridge University, 1923; of the Agricultural Wages Board from 1930–1940; of the Lords and Commons Committee on Electoral Reform, 1929–1930; and of BBC Enquiry Committee, 1935. He was a Trustee of the British Museum from 1922–1931 and a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1925. In 1907 his portrait was painted by Philip de Laszlo.


He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1898, created 1st Viscount Ullswater, of Campsea Ashe, in the County of Suffolk, on his retirement as Speaker in 1921,[2] and appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in July 1921.[3] He also held the degrees of DCL from the University of Oxford, LL.D from the University of Cambridge and DCL from the University of Leeds.

Titles, Styles and Arms[edit]

  • 1855–1883: Mr James William Lowther
  • 1883–1885: Mr James William Lowther MP
  • 1885–1886: Mr James William Lowther
  • 1886–1898: Mr James William Lowther MP
  • 1898–1921: The Rt Hon James William Lowther MP
  • 1921–1949: The Rt Hon The Viscount Ullswater GCB PC
Coat of arms of James Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullswater
Coronet of a British Viscount.svg
Ullswater Escutcheon.png
A Coronet of a Viscount
A Dragon passant Argent
Or six Annulets three two and one a Crescent for difference
On either side a Horse Argent gorged with a Wreath of Laurel Vert and charged on the shoulder with a Portcullis chained Or
Magistratum Indicat Virum (The office shows the man)


On 1 March 1886, Lowther married Mary Frances Beresford-Hope (d. 16 May 1944). They had three children:[4]

  • Major Christopher William Lowther (b. 18 Jan 1887, d. 7 Jan 1935). He was succeeded to the viscountcy by his great-grandson.
  • Arthur James Beresford Lowther (b. 28 Oct 1888, d. 2 Mar 1967)
  • Mildred Lowther (b. 1890,[5] d. 2 Jul 1973)


  1. ^ "Lowther, James William (LWTR874JW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ "No. 32413". The London Gazette. 5 August 1921. p. 6166.
  3. ^ "No. 32394". The London Gazette. 19 July 1921. p. 5724.
  4. ^ "thePeerage.com". Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  5. ^ England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. Gerard Noel
George Finch
Member of Parliament for Rutland
With: George Finch
Succeeded by
George Finch
Preceded by
Henry Howard
Member of Parliament for Penrith
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Penrith and Cockermouth
Succeeded by
Sir Cecil Lowther
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir James Fergusson, Bt
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Grey, Bt
Preceded by
John William Mellor
Chairman of Ways and Means
Succeeded by
John Grant Lawson
Preceded by
William Gully
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
John Henry Whitley
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Senior Privy Counsellor
Succeeded by
Winston Churchill
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Ullswater
Succeeded by
Nicholas Lowther