Obviously, the surname "Lowthroppe" is a compound consisting of two elements, viz., "low" and "throp". Accordingly, it is probable that the first of these is merely the same as the modern English word meaning "not elevated in position", which has been used as an element of place names of "a region or district whose level is lower than that of the surrounding country".1 Alternatively, it may be derived from a particular Norse proper name.2 In any case, the second element is almost certainly a variation of the archaic noun "thorp" meaning "a hamlet, village, or small town" (which, originally meant "an outlying farmstead" similar to the Latin noun "villa"). Within this context, the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary supply a corresponding etymology that affirms an origin consistent with usage as an element of place names in the Danelaw district, i.e., the region of northern and eastern England subjected to repeated Norse invasions between the ninth and eleventh centuries, and most particularly in Yorkshire. Indeed, the village of Lowthorpe can still be found about two thirds of the way between the towns of Bridlington and Driffield just to the south of the main highway, i.e., about four or five miles northeast of Driffield.3 Moreover, modern topographic maps indicate that it lies at or near the bottom of a relatively steep, southeastward facing slope at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, adjoining the coastal plain of the North Sea (which is about ten miles away). Obviously, this geography is quite consistent with the proposed meaning of the name of the village, which has been in existence at least since the thirteenth century and probably much earlier. Even so, proximity of this location to the seacoast does not rule out derivation from a proper name of some now forgotten Viking invader and, perhaps, both meanings later became blended.Source Notes and Citations:
It would seem transparently evident that the surname "Lowthroppe" and all associated variants must derive from the parish and village of Lowthorpe, which lies in the Wapentake of Dickering, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Indeed, Huntington has reported that an early civil record exists which affirms that in the year 1216, Walter de Lowthorpe was elected sherriff of Yorkshire. Of course, "election" must not be construed as a popular vote in any modern sense, but as an appointment by peers. Accordingly, this would seem to indicate that he was, perhaps, a minor noble of some kind. Moreover, true surnames were not used in the thirteenth century; hence, it is clear that "de Lowthorpe" was merely a geographically derived Anglo-Norman cognomen that meant "of Lowthorpe". Concomitantly, in 1292 Walter de Lowthorpe was "called on the carpet" by King Edward I for a putative transgression of royal prerogative apparently regarding revenue associated with the "assize of beer". Clearly, this Walter was probably the son or grandson of the earlier Walter; however, the context, again, suggests that he was likely a minor noble. In the next century during the reign of Richard II (1377-1400), a Robert de Louthorp (Lowthorp) served as chaplain in the parish church of St. Martin. Furthermore, at about this same time, it appears that a branch of the family must have moved about twenty miles south to the vicinity of the town of Beverley since at the death of one Robert Lowthrop in 1392 an inquest was held regarding the disposition of some property in that town that he had donated to the church. Of course, one cannot infer that he actually lived nearby, but it is probable that he and, perhaps, other members of the Lowthroppe family held estates in this locality, i.e., Harthill Wapentake. In any case, in the second half of the fifteenth century it is evident from the will of Robert Lowthorp of Bridlington (made on August 3, 1474) that he had relatives living in the parish of Cherry Burton a few miles north of Beverley. However, this Robert seems to have had no children of his own and, therefore, cannot have been the father of John Lowthroppe of Cherry Burton. Nevertheless, it might be plausibly supposed that he was an uncle of John's father, who may have also been named Robert as is commonly thought, but this is merely speculation.
For completeness, it should be noted that the spelling of "Lowthorpe" was quite variable in early records (as is almost invariably the case with names) and, thus, it was also frequently rendered "Lowthroppe", "Lawthrop", or something similar. Moreover, Middle English pronunciation of the name appears to have been with a long "a" sound in the first syllable (which would also seem characteristic of the spoken language of Yorkshire), rather than a long "o" as might be thought in consideration of modern speech patterns. Accordingly, various spellings such as "Laythroppe" reflecting this usage are also frequently found. Even so, by the seventeenth century, the spelling of the name seems to have become at least partially fixed as "Lothropp" or "Lothrop"; however, it would seem that the original pronunciation must have been retained because later generations seem to have almost invariably rendered the name "Lathrop", which now appears to be the most common form.
1. John Simpson (chief ed.), Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, continuously updated.
According to the compilers of the Dictionary, the common English adjective "low" seems to have first been used in the sense of a "low land" during the fourteenth century, for example in Wycliff's English translation of the Bible of 1382, cf., Isaiah 34:9. Within this context, antecedants of this usage came from Old Norse, Old Frisian, and, undoubtedly, also from more distant Germanic and Indo-European roots. Moreover, the word proabably also appeared in Old English; however, with a different meaning in reference to land: "fallow, unploughed" and, as such, more closely related to the modern words "lay" and "lie". In addition, the Dictonary also indicates that Middle English pronunciation of the vowel would have probably more closely corresponded to a long "a" sound, rather than the modern long "o".
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2. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
"English: habitational name from Lowthorpe in East Yorkshire, named with the Old Norse personal name Logi or Lági + þorp 'outlying farmstead'"
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3. Elijah Baldwin Huntington, A genealogical memoir of the Lo-Lathrop family in this country: embracing the descendants, as far as known, of the Rev. John Lothropp, privately published by Julia M. Huntington, Ridgefield, CT, 1884: pgs. 3-7.
"LOWTHORPE is a small parish in the wapentake of Dickering, in the East Riding of York, four and a half miles northeast from Great Driffield, having about 150 inhabitants. It is a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry of York. This parish gave name to the family of Lowthrop, Lothrop, or Lathrop. The church, which was dedicated to St. Martin, and had for one of its chaplains, in the reign of Richard the Second, Robert de Louthorp, is now partly ruinated, the tower and chancel being almost entirely overgrown with ivy. It was a collegiate church from 1333, and from the style of its architecture, must have been built about the time of Edward III.
There has been no institution to it since 1579. The church consists of a nave, chancel, and tower at the west end; the latter is finished with brick and clumsy pinnacles. It was formerly a very handsome structure, the windows being lofty, of three lights, with trefoil heads, and three quarterfoils in the sweep of the arch. The portion of the church now used for divine service is the nave, the chancel having been desecrated for a considerable period. In this part of the church are two large ash trees and some curious monuments, one of which is a brass tablet rendered illegible through the weather. Affixed to the north side of the nave is the following historical tablet in bad repair:'The collegiate church of Lowthorpe was an ancient rectory, dedicated to St. Martin.Dugdale, in his Monasticon, Vol. VI, Part 3, 1474, gives these additional particulars of its endowment: 'Here was a collegiate body or large chantrey consisting of a Rector, six chaplains, and three clerks, founded in this church in the of the reign of King Edward the Third by Sir John Haserlerton, patron, who got the archbishop to appropriate the parochial tithes for their maintenance.'
'A. D. 1333 it was endowed by Sir John De Haslerton, who founded in it six perpetual chantries.
'A. D. 1364, Sir Thomas de Haslerton added another chantry for the souls of himself and Alice, his wife. He endowed the church with the manor of Lawthorpe and the mansion house.
'A. D. 1776, the inhabitants of the township of Lowthrope repaired the roof of the church.
'A. D. 1777, the church was paved, and the chancel contracted and painted by Sir William St Quintin, Bart., lord of the manor and patron of the living, descended from the family of the Haslertons.'
In 1869 the south side of the chancel was entirely rebuilt, leaving, however, the tower and chancel as they have stood for many generations. The church is a perpetual curacy, and the present Patron is William Thomas, St. Quinton, Esq."
"LOWTHORPE LOTHROPS. ... The following are such notices of tile Lowthorpes of this parish and its near vicinity as I could glean during my English search:1216. WALTER DE LOWTHORPE, elected sheriff for Yorkshire.In addition to the foregoing records of the English Lowthrops, by the kindness of Col. J. L. Chester of London, who has been so successful in his antiquarian researches for so many years among the English church and civil records, I am able to supply the following list. These records may be of future use in completing the genealogy of that branch of the English Lothrops from which the American family of the name is derived."
1292. WALTER DE LOWTHORPE is summoned to answer to the king, Edward I, for attempting to regulate the 'assize of beer' on all of his tenants in Lowthorpe and other places without a license from the king. He stoutly defended himself, insisting upon his unquestioned right 'anent custom thro his ancestors without interruption, beyond the memory of man.' ...
1392. At the death of ROBERT LOWTHROP an inquisition was held regarding certain tenements in Beverley which he had given to the Church of St. John in that town, the revenues from which were to be appropriated for masses by the chaplains there, for the repose of his soul.
1450. ROBERT LOWTHORPE, of Bridlington, receives 20s., by will, from William Sywardley, Esq., of Sywardley, April 9, 1450. Surtes Soc. Vol 2
1474. Aug. 3, ROBERT LOWTHORP, of Bridlington, makes his will, which was proved at York on the 3d of the following November. He gives his landed estate to his relatives at Lowthorpe and Cherry Burton. The will gives us the name of his wife, Catherine who was also his executrix. This will is printed as illustrating the position and character of the man, and as no children are named, as suggesting that he left no other family than his wife. This is also noteworthy as being the earliest will now preserved in the registry at York of any person of the name Lowthorp.
It is written in the abbreviated Latin peculiar to that period. The following is the translation:'In the name of God, Amen, the third day of the month of August, fourteen hundred and seventy-four. I Robert Lowthrope, of Bridlington, being of sound mind and memory make my testament in this manner.
'In the first place, I give my soul to God Omnipotent, and to the blessed Mary, and to all his saints, and my body to be buried in the church of the blessed Mary of Bridlington.
'Also, I give my best animal for my mortuary.
'Also, I give to the light of St. John of Bridlington one silver gilt zone with eighty pearls and ten silver gilt pendants, after the death of Catherine my wife.
'Also, I give to every Priest present at my funeral on the first, sixpence, and on the seventh day, fourpence.
'Also, I give to every Chaplain present the first and the seventh day, twelve- pence.
'Also, I give for wax to be placed about my body, the first day and the seventh, four pounds.
'Also, I give to the fabric of the church of St. Peter of New York, twelvepence.
'Also, I give to the fabric of St. Mary of Bridlington, three shillings and fourpence.
'Also, I give to the parish altar of Bridlington one burde cloth (gold tissue), and one towell and twill.
'Also, I give to the high altar of Lowthorp one burde cloth and one towell and twill.
'Also, I give to the guild of the Holy Trinity of Bridlington three and fourpence.
'Also, I give to the guild of St. Mary of Bridlington, twenty pence.
'Also, I give to the Friars' Preachers of Kingston-upon-Hull, twenty pence.
'I give the residue of all my goods not above bequeathed, to Catherine, my wife, whom I make my executrix, to order and dispose thereof to the health of my soul, as may seem best to her.
'In witness I have placed my seal, these being witness: Anthony Kirby, Parish Chaplain; John Chapman, Richard Glover, Chaplain; William Hedon, John Brigham, John Somerby, William Edwards, John Sutton, and others.
'The present testament was proved the third day of the month of November in the year of our Lord aforesaid, and administration, committed to Katherine, widow and executrix in the same will.'
"The following names are found on subsidy rolls for the places and dates reported:LOWTHROPE, ROBERT of Hornsay (modern spelling, Hornsea), 1558.In addition, Huntington supplied many other references for various places in England; however, these three can be identified specifcally with the East Riding of Yorkshire.
LOWTHROPPE, JOHN of Hessell Co., Kingston-upon-Hull, 1579.
LOWTHROPP, ROGER of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1579."
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4. Richard Woodruff Price, John Lothrop (1584 - 1653); A Puritan Biography & Genealogy, Richard W. Price and Associates, Salt Lake City, UT, 1984: pgs. 24-6.
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