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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lowes, Thomas Yardley (1798–1870)

by E. M. Geddes

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Thomas Yardley Lowes (1798?-1870), distiller, merchant and auctioneer arrived at Hobart Town from England in the Thalia on 27 April 1823, as a free settler, with his wife Anna Maria Theresa and infant daughter Mary Ann. He was joined by his parents in 1827.

Lowes received a land grant at Manor Owen, in the Lennox district, which he left unimproved and unoccupied for years. He was promised another 800 acres (324 ha) when he erected a distillery and malt house on another grant at Cascade Grove, Hobart, and began distilling in 1824. Because of the reduction of duty on foreign spirits in 1825 and the scarcity of grain he had to close his distillery, which was bought for £2000 in 1827 by the government for a factory and place of detention for female prisoners.

In 1825 Lowes was advertising as a general commission agent and three years later he was appointed cashier of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land. In 1832 he was actuary to the Van Diemen's Land Assurance Association, and became a licensed auctioneer in partnership with W. T. Macmichael; he also opened a wool mart in 1834. Later he acquired property at Lowes Park, Antill Ponds, and at Dairy Lands, Glenorchy, where he built Lowestoft.

Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell spoke of Lowes as an industrious young man, and Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur considered that disappointments over urban allotments and the unfulfilled promise of 800 additional acres (324 ha) had given a bias to Lowes's political principles and lost the government the benefit of his support.

His political activities began in 1824 when he was one of the signatories to a memorial to the King soliciting separation of Van Diemen's Land from New South Wales and its independence as a colony. In 1847 he took part in a public meeting on transportation, and spoke in favour of the continuation of transportation in a modified form. He was a member of the Legislative Council of Tasmania from 1856 until his death, a justice of the peace from 1862, one of the two members of the Bridgewater Commission, and a promoter of the Mersey and Deloraine Tramway Co. He was treasurer of the New Town Race Course in 1831-32, an early member of the Royal Society of Tasmania, and an original member, and captain in 1860-62, of the Buckingham Volunteer Rifle Corps. He was also a director of the Tasmanian Fire and Life Insurance Co. and a vice-president of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.

His wife died in 1861. Their only child was married to Francis Oscar Tondeur on 21 October 1848. Lowes died at Lowestoft on 5 October 1870. He was buried in St Paul's Church of England cemetery, Glenorchy.

His obituary referred to him as a friend of the poor, somewhat eccentric, and a politician whose views were not of the most advanced order. A contemporary described him as 'a fine old English gentleman', generous, courteous, with a kindly wit, a success in business which he conducted with the highest integrity, and with a wide social circle.

Select Bibliography

  • correspondence file under T. Y. Lowes (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

E. M. Geddes, 'Lowes, Thomas Yardley (1798–1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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