Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Robert Lowe (1783–1832)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published:

Robert Lowe (1783-1832), grazier, was born on 29 August 1783 at Clerkenwell, London. He married Barbara Willard in Sussex on 2 October 1807, and arrived in New South Wales with his wife and two children in the Mary in May 1812. He brought an official letter testifying to his respectable connexions, and recommending him for a liberal land grant since he possessed property worth £1000; as a result he was granted 1000 acres (405 ha) at Bringelly in August 1812 and a further 500 acres (202 ha) there in September 1818. He named his house after Birling Gap on the Sussex coast near his wife's former home, and extended the property until in 1828 it amounted to 5600 acres (2266 ha). He also had 1280 acres (518 ha) at Liverpool.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie made Lowe a magistrate in 1815 for the Bringelly and Cooke districts and in 1820 for the County of Cumberland. Lowe took an active part in the affairs of the Campbelltown district, was a member of the Agricultural Stock Club, vice-president of the Benevolent Society and a committee member of the Bible Society; he was sympathetic to the Aboriginals, supported the Native Institution and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge amongst the Aborigines of New South Wales. In 1817 he wrote warmly praising Macquarie's administration, moderation and philanthropy towards the convicts, but in July 1820 he told Commissioner John Thomas Bigge that the prisoners were better reformed if employed in agriculture than if kept in town, that if unskilled convicts could not obtain such work they should be placed in road-gangs and that tickets-of-leave were too readily granted. He deplored the scarcity of mechanics in the country and condemned the system of agriculture in the colony on the ground that its successive grain crops tended to exhaust the soil and regretted that grantees of land across the mountains had done nothing to develop their properties.

In the 1815 drought Lowe had sustained large losses of sheep and cattle, and in December was allowed to take some of his flocks across the mountains to the Bathurst area. In October 1822 he sent a memorial to the colonial secretary requesting a land grant there on the grounds that he had improved the breed of sheep and cattle and incurred expense in building stockyards. He had also taken sheep and cattle as far as Mudgee, and there had erected stockyards in conjunction with William Lawson. Lowe and his sons later received considerable grants in Sidmeath valley, near Bathurst, and Lowe bought a property at Wilbertree, Mudgee.

His wife died on 21 February 1818, aged 38, leaving four sons and one daughter. On 5 November 1821 Lowe married Sarah Hazard, a widow, who bore him three sons and three daughters. Lowe died on 17 July 1832, and Sarah on 3 August 1878, aged 78; they were buried with his first wife at St John's, Parramatta.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 7, 9, 10
  • manuscript catalogue under R. Lowe (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Lowe, Robert (1783–1832)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


29 August, 1783
London, Middlesex, England


17 July, 1832 (aged 48)

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