Two Sussex archaeologists: William Durrant Cooper and Mark Antony Lower/Mark Antony Lower
Every reader of Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott, and of Charles Cuthbert Southey's Life of his famous father, Robert Southey, has lamented that the fragments of Autobiography which occupy the preliminary pages of those popular works break off at so early a period in the career of the two illustrious littérateurs whose lives are therein chronicled. Mark Antony Lower, a far humbler light in the literary firmament, also, to use a word which was a favourite with him, " endeavoured" a sketch of his career. The fragment which he has thus left behind him, is, alas! too brief to do more than exhibit its hero's advent upon life's threshold; but brief as it is, it is sufficiently interesting to induce a regret that its writer proceeded no further with it. Doubtless, both in the case of the eminent men above named, and in Mr. Lower's, the task of self-anatomization proved to be too painful to be persevered in. However, the outline of his life can hardly be initiated in a better way than by the presentation of his own story of its commencement:—
"RECOLLECTIONS OF A LITERARY LIFE."
By Mark Antony Lower.
"Eheu fugaces anni! How have the years fled since my life commenced, and my literary career began! At first sight it seems almost absurd for any man to sit down to the serious and laborious task of his own biography. As years increase, our years, our months, our weeks seem to become shorter. We seem to be as * of yesterday, and to know nothing.' Yet I never met with a man who, in spite of all his infirmities, his failures, his sins, would like to live his life over again: the probability being very strong that it would be merely a repetition of infirmity, of failure, and of sin. This is a wise arrangement of Heaven, for if the contrary feeling were indulged, and a redivivus were granted to men, ere long would the world become choke-full of Methuselahs, and forthcoming generations would have to migrate to the uninhabited planets, if, indeed, any such really exist.
"Still, the practice of writing men's lives, either autobiographically or by the pens of others, has prevailed from the very dawn of literature. The oldest written book extant informs us that 'there was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job,' and furnishes us with his history, and the opinions of himself and his contemporaries. Throughout the whole course of the Hebrew, the Classical, and the Middle Ages, down to our own days, a passion has existed for narrating the lives of men; and though the autobiographies are few in comparison with the 'memoirs' (as they are commonly called) yet by a critical examination of the works of poets and novelists we shall very often find, running through the thread of their writings, reminiscences of their lives, amounting almost to autobiographies. Of this we have eminent examples in King David's Psalms, in Horace, and in Oliver Goldsmith; perhaps, also, in Thackeray and Lord Lytton. Reminiscences will crop up in spite of ourselves, and we can no more prevent this phenomenon, than could the heroes of Trafalgar and Waterloo, of a few years since, be prevented from 'fighting their battles o'er again.'
"But what am I aiming at? Do I pretend to rank myself among the Davids, the Horaces, the Goldsmiths, the Lyttons, or with the hero of a hundred fights? Not so! My meaning is, as I advance to threescore years, to put upon simple record some of the events of a life which, though not altogether uneventful, has been that of a simple, unambitious man, a life which, though somewhat queer and picturesque, has not been marked by any deeds of a stirring or sensational character, though it may yet be worthy of record for the information of the coming generation. It contains incidents which may prove useful as lessons of what to do and what to avoid, and thus be regarded with some small amount of interest and profit.
"I was born in the obscure agricultural village of Chiddingly, in the Weald of Sussex, 14th July, 1813. My father, Richard Lower, was a schoolmaster of the old-fashioned middle-class of his profession. Without being what is called a scholar, he was a man of varied attainments. He had few associations except with farmers and tradesmen. There was in the somewhat extensive parish no resident squire or clergyman, and hence he became the factotum of the district. He was an excellent practical mathematician, and a land-surveyor of considerable note. He also held nearly every parochial office, made wills and agreements, and was an acknowledged authority in every local matter. Moreover, he was a capital self-taught draughtsman, and although his Latin was small, and Greek smaller still, he was one of the best English grammarians I ever knew. Besides this, he was no mean poet, and every local event was by him chronicled in rhyme, and printed in local newspapers. In his eightieth year he published a small volume entitled ' Stray leaves from an Old Tree.' Speaking without prejudice, I can fairly say that few men in his sphere of life lived more usefully and more unselfishly than he did. Yet, with all his acquirements, which filled his rustic neighbours with astonishment—though
' . . . . . still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew,'—
"Under the guidance of this good father, I learned the rudiments of useful knowledge, and was soon an adept in most things that a young boy is capable of. Among the 'accomplishments,' I learnt music and drawing so early, that I cannot remember my first lessons in either science. I have not the slightest recollection of the hours when I learned my gamut, and a certain facility in sketching from nature. This I recollect, that I was a tolerable proficient on the flute, and a sketcher, before I was seven years old. The singing of sacred music was also one of our family amusements and recreations, and we frequently sang hymns set to music by my father himself. Those summer evenings that we spent in the garden, with our family, assisted by some musical neighbours and a few of the pupils, are a thing not easily 'disremembered.' A crowd of rustic neighbours behind the garden wall formed a well-pleased audience, and there we remained until the dews of nightfall warned us to retire to family prayers and to our peaceful couches each and all as tranquil and happy, and as unmindful of to-morrow's trials as ever the household of the Vicar of Wakefield could be."
It has been said, over and over again, that the life of a student and man of letters seldom affords much to relate of a personal character, and the life of Mark Antony Lower can hardly be said to be an exception to this rule.
Taking up his story at the point at which he may be presumed to have laid down his pen, and, noticing in passing, that he was the youngest of six sons, four of whom died in infancy, it may be mentioned that his first essay in the vocation which he made the business of his life during the greater part of it, was as an assistant to his sister, who opened a school at Easthothly, in 1830. He remained with her but a short time, for we find him attempting to establish a school for himself in the same year at Cade Street, in the parish of Heathfield, where he lodged during the week, returning home to his father's on the Friday or Saturday, as circumstances dictated. After spending some eighteen months on this experiment in the tutor's art, he removed, in his nineteenth year, to Alfriston, and there ventured on a more ambitious effort at school-keeping. And it was during his tenure of this Alfriston school that he enlarged his qualifications for teaching. In his scanty leisure at this time he made himself master of the Latin tongue, having, as he informed one of his oldest friends, his 'Latin grammar for sauce, while discussing his dinner.'
His hands must, indeed, at this period have been the reverse of idle, for it was then that he managed to bring before the public the first of the long series of literary works that bear his name, the title of which, in all its comprehensive fulness, is here given:
"Sussex: Being an Historical, Topographical, and General Description of every Rape, Hundred, River, Town, Borough, Parish, Village, Hamlet, Castle, Monastery, and Gentleman's Seat in that County. Alphabetically Arranged. With the Population of each Parish, according to the Census of 1821, and other useful and curious Information. With a correct Map of the County. By Mark Antony Lower. Printed for the Author, and sold by R. W. Lower, High Street, Lewes; W. Leppard, East Street, Brighton; and all Booksellers in the County. Mdcccxxxi."
Long years after this really well-compiled volume had been before the Sussex public, its author, grown fastidious by reason of his much larger acquaintance with topographic lore, has been occasionally heard to express his regret that he had ever published it. But it was, and even now is, although thrown into the shade by his larger and much more recent work on the same subject, still a very serviceable compilation, and one that the writer, however popular in his later days, need not have blushed at being identified with. And that he must even then, by some proofs given of literary aptitude, have acquired, comparatively speaking, considerable local repute, is evidenced by the patent fact that the subscription list appended to his book, comprises the names of upwards of 250 patrons.
Before he finally gave up his school at Alfriston, he set about to establish a Mechanics' Institution there, a meritorious and successful work, in which he was largely aided by John Dudeney, a name never mentioned in East Sussex but in terms of esteem and admiration. It would be foreign to the purpose of this memoir to dwell here upon the character and career of this "hereditary Southdown shepherd;" but how, springing from humble parentage, taught merely to read by his careful mother, he ultimately lifted himself up from his pastoral occupation to become a successful schoolmaster, and the founder of a Philosophical Society in Lewes, a practical and accomplished naturalist, and an instructive and amusing lecturer on Astronomy, is told, not only in John Dudeney's simple English, in his own account of himself, in the Second volume of the Sussex Archæological Collections, but also by his attached friend, Mark Antony Lower, in the Gentleman's Magazine, for March, 1853. It is hardly needful to add that the friendship between these two, which began at Alfriston, was severed by death only, and that they were closely associated in continuous efforts towards the elevation and education of the working classes.
Somewhere about half way between Alfriston and Chiddingly there stood, and probably still stands, a pleasantly situated farmhouse, with the comfortably circumstanced occupants of which, in his weekly or more frequent walks to and from his home—for he had not cut himself entirely away from the parental roof—our handsome young dominie became acquainted; and there, on scorching July, or freezing January afternoons, a welcome rest of half-an-hour or more .was often brought to a close by an acceptable cup of tea, with its appropriate accompaniments. Nor was the latter the sole or chief charm of his haltings at the domicile of this estimable family. A bonny, bright-eyed, flaxen-haired young maiden, who officiated as governess there, soon brought home to Mark Antony Lower the conviction that he possessed a susceptible heart. She who thus enmeshed that heart of his in golden and enduring fetters, was of a well-known and still flourishing Sussex family, the Holmans, and it may be well to anticipate chronological events, by noting here that Mark Antony Lower and Mercy Holman became husband and wife at Bromley, in Kent, in the year 1838.
In or about the year 1835, Mr. Lower, by that time confirmed in his liking for his chosen vocation, and more fitted for it by his four or five years' experience in his village school ventures, removed to Lewes. He there "hired an old chapel or rather preaching room, close by the then Lancastrian School, but now the British School, in Lancaster Street." He soon gathered round him a goodly number of scholars, and made such satisfactory progress, that in due time he felt warranted in giving up his bachelor lodgings, and going into housekeeping, taking unto wife, as already mentioned, the above-named Mercy Holman: and fortunate was he, and fortunate he ever deemed himself, in drawing so unquestionable a prize in the matrimonial lottery.
Previously, however, to making this important jump in life, and full of enthusiasm, as yet uncooled, he took a prominent part in the establishment of "the Lewes New Temperance Society," the first annual Report of which, a document which need not be quoted here, proceeded from his pen. Subsequently, for reasons cogent enough to him at the time, he saw fit to secede from this body, but he did not relax in his other efforts for the mental advancement of the masses.
His successive removals from house to house, as both his school and family increased, require not to be chronicled in detail. But in connection with one of these dwellings an anecdotical incident may be related. In the garden of a next-door neighbour grew a handsome pear tree, which, in proper season, bore a full crop of fruit, and stood in tempting proximity to, in fact overhung, the dividing wall, between the school play-ground and the aforesaid garden. "Where is the school-boy who would not covet his neighbour's goods when, day after day, they thus as it were stimulated the desire of possession and enjoyment? Stone throwing was resorted to, a fall of fruit resulted, but, unfortunately, broken windows resulted also. The neighbour complained of his fractured glass; the schoolmaster apologised, promised punishment of the offenders, and offered to send in a glazier to repair the damage done. "No!" said the good-natured sufferer, " I will take that charge upon myself, and, by way of truce with your young scapegraces, I will send in a basket of pears annually, and they shall covenant to do my trees and windows no further harm!" The point of the story is, that when the pears were sent in, as agreed on, the ringleaders in the mischief claimed the greater share, on the ground that but for their pluck at the outset, the gift of fruit would never have been made!
Most dwellers in, and many sojourners at, Lewes, have witnessed, or heard of, the mad pranks of the self-styled "Bonfire Boys," who, on the Fifth of November every year, startle the quiet old town from its accustomed propriety, and, by their uproarious proceedings, put nervous wayfarers in fancied danger of their lives. Mr. Lower was much opposed to this "Saturnalia of the roughs" and, on one occasion, under the signature of " A Young Inhabitant," he issued a printed manifesto, very earnestly worded, deprecating the continuance of the irrational and mischievous custom; especially warning its perpetrators against the consequences of their reckless flinging about of squibs and other fiery missiles, and noting that, "in cases of fire happening on such occasions, the insurance companies are not responsible for the loss." The authorship of this broadside was soon bruited about, and the mob threatened to throw its writer into the river; but he prudently kept out of the mob's way, and to this day the Lewes Bonfire Boys, now recruited by reinforcements from the riff-raff of Brighton, make "night hideous" once a year on poor Guy Fawkes's Anniversary, to the terror of all peaceable folk within hail of their doings.
About 1853 or 1854 Mr. Lower removed to Saint Anne's House, his last and longest inhabited dwelling in Lewes, an old red-brick edifice, of somewhat irregular character, formerly occupied by, among other local celebrities, some of the Shelleys, by Sir Roger Newdigate, founder of the Newdigate prize at Oxford, and other locally distinguished persons. Still earlier it was the property and home of John Rowe, whose name is held in reverence as that of the Father of Sussex Archæology. Such a domicile became, therefore, the appropriate abiding-place of so eminent a student of past times as Mark Antony Lower. The house has now disappeared, and on its site a modern, and doubtless much more convenient, residence rears its head, but the old Saint Anne's house was associated with times and men round which and whom the halo of Antiquity has long gathered. Mr. Lower occupied this ancient house until the year 1867. In it were written the greater part of his many papers and books, and within its walls he continued to pursue his scholastic vocation, limiting his pupils to boarders only, among whom were, generally, several young Frenchmen, for whose tuition he specially laid himself out. But, towards the latter years of his stay in Lewes, the establishment of public and semi-public schools and colleges for the sons of middle-class parents, as also the failing health of himself and his devoted wife, upon whom devolved the domestic superintendence of his modest academy, told upon the number of his inmates, and his consequent pecuniary returns, when, in the last-mentioned year, Mrs. Lower succumbed to the malady under which she had been suffering, and her husband, in the thirtieth year of his wedded life, a life which, in regard to his domestic happiness, had been all that he could have desired or anticipated, found himself a bereaved widower, at a season when he could ill spare so loved and loving a partner. To a man of his strong affections, this melancholy event was productive of considerable distress of mind, and a few months afterwards, under the altered circumstances in which he found himself placed, he sold his dear old house, broke up his school, and removed to Seaford, still taking a few French pupils.
Anxious to mark their sense, and appreciating the importance of Mr. Lower's long labours in connection with the history of his native county, his friends—members and non-members alike of the Sussex Archaeological Society—organized a committee, and raised a subscription, in testimony of the high esteem in which they held him and his services. The fund thus raised, amounting to about 400, was presented to him some short time before his removal to Seaford.
Some three years after this removal he took for his second wife a maiden lady whom he had long known—Miss Sarah Scrase—of an old and respectable family, originally Danish, long settled in Sussex. Soon after this second marriage, namely, in 1871, he left his native county entirely, to reside in London or its immediate neighbourhood, in order to apply himself, as far as his impaired health would permit, to literary pursuits.
In 1873, a trip to Denmark and Sweden was resolved on, partly under the hope that his health would be benefited by it, and partly with the object of pursuing some inquiries, of an archaeological character, among a people so nearly allied to our own in several important particulars. His wife accompanied him. But the health-seeking pilgrimage failed of its object, and he was, after too short a sojourn for his literary purposes, ordered back to England by his physician, by the most expeditious route. A book, however, the last his hitherto active hand produced, was the outcome of his otherwise fruitless journey, and this book, Wayside Notes in Scandinavia. London, 1874, presented, it must be confessed, but a faint reflex of his usual lively style of composition.
In 1875 it was his misfortune to follow his second wife, who was affectionately attached to him, to the grave. After her death he removed from his abode in the southern suburb of London, Peckham, to the house of his youngest daughter, Mrs. Hawkins, at Enfield, Middlesex, where, surrounded by such of his six surviving sons and daughters as happened to be in England, he passed away, on the 22nd of March, 1876, in the sixty-third year of his age.
Mr. Lower took no active part in the municipal affairs of Lewes; he served as one of the Headboroughs in the year 1860-1861, but never held any other prominently public office.
It is as one of the originators of the Sussex Archæological Society, and one of the chief co-operators in its valuable Collections both by his pen and pencil, that the name of Mark Antony Lower will ever deserve to be remembered with the highest honour. And as he was one of the pioneers of the movement, so was he the last survivor of the six coadjutors, Messrs. Blaauw, Blencowe, Dudeney, Figg, Harvey, and himself, who, by their deliberations, gave currency to an idea first started, it is believed, and gradually worked out, in the frequent neighbourly meetings at each other's house alternately, of the last-named four. This view is borne out by the Report prefixed to the first volume of the Society's Collections, where it appears that " the first meeting which defined the objects and established the rules of the Society, took place on June 18th, 1846, at the suggestion of a few gentlemen in the town and neighbourhood of Lewes, who, observing the interest excited by some recent antiquarian discoveries, were anxious to promote a readier acquaintance among persons attached to the same pursuits, and to combine their exertions in illustration of the History and Antiquities of Sussex." So, with the Duke of Richmond, Lord Lieutenant of the County, as patron, and the Duke of Norfolk as President, the Sussex Archæological Society speedily became an "accomplished fact."
The first public meeting of the Society was held on July 9th, 1846, in an appropriate arena, the ruins of Pevensey Castle; and the first paper read there, was on the History of those venerable remains, by Mark Antony Lower, which paper, under the title of Chronicles of Pevensey, was published by its Author as a separate work, and has since passed through several editions as a popular handbook for visitors.
Noting the fact, that the first volume of the Society's Collections opens with a paper on the germane subject of Sussex Archæology, from the scholarly pen of the late Mr. Blaauw, who then officiated as honorary secretary, the several contributions of Mr. Lower to those collections now claim especial notice.
In Vol. i. we have three papers, the subjects of which respectively are:—Seals of the Sussex Cinque Ports; Names of the Sussex Gentry in 1588, a short, but very suggestive paper, as supplying the names of upwards of 100 Sussex contributors to the 'extraordinary aid' called for by Queen Elizabeth on the threatened invasion of England by Spain; and An Ancient Leaden Coffer found at Willingdon. Vol. ii. in addition to five shorter papers, namely, Observations on the Landing of William the Conqueror; On Oliver Cromwell's Pocket Bible; On a Congratulatory Letter to Sir Thomas Pelham; On Roman Remains at Eastbourne, and, On the Monumental Brasses of Sussex, contains his long, valuable, and remarkably able paper On the Iron Works of Sussex, copiously illustrated by drawings from his own hand. The universal interest excited in the Iron districts all over England by this paper, led to the speedy sale of all the copies of the volume containing it, and the second-hand booksellers print "very rare" against it in their catalogues, when lucky enough to get hold of a copy. Mr. Lower contributed two supplementary articles to Vols. iii. and xviii. on the same subject, Vol. iii. exhibits three articles: On the Castle of Bellencombre, in Normandy; On Wills proved at Lewes and Chichester; and On the Pelham Buckle and De la Warr Badge. In Vol. iv. we have his amusing papers On Sir Bevis of Hampton, and his Horse Arundel; On some Wills of Inhabitants of Herstmonceux and neighbouring parishes; and a third, prettily illustrated by his own careful drawings, On the Star Inn at Alfriston. Vol. v. opens with a paper by him On the Descent of Wiston, with Anecdotes of its Possessors; while a second is On Miscellaneous Antiquities discovered in and relating to Sussex; and a third On Watermills and Windmills in Sussex. His first paper in Vol. vi. is on the stirring theme of the Battle of Hastings. A second is entitled Memoranda of the Boord or Borde Family, with a Memoir of Andrew Borde—the original of all the Merry Andrews of our old country fairs—and the third is on a subject he had already made his own Pevensey Castle and recent Excavations there. Vol. vii. contains his long and painstaking Memorials of the Town, Parish, and Cinque-port of Seaford, an account which is supplemented in Vol. xviii. by a joint paper by himself and Mr. Cooper, entitled Further Memorials of Seaford. A Genealogical Memoir of the Family of Scrase is his only contribution to Vol. viii. Five articles from his fertile pen are to be found in Vol. ix. viz. Notes of the Family of Miller, of Burghill, and Winkinghurst; On the Churches of Newhaven and Denton; Notes respecting Halnaker, Boxgrove, &c. temp. Q. Eliz.; On the Pillory and Cucking Stool at Bye. But the gem of these five papers is that entitled Bodiam and its Lords, a charming contribution, and one which, some half-dozen years ago, he revised and republished, at the instance of the present owner of that dismantled stronghold of the Dalyngruges, still, in its ruins, a picturesque and majestic pile. A chatty paper On certain Inns and Inn Signs in Sussex, appears in Vol. x. and Extracts from the Diary of a Sussex Tradesman 100 years ago, edited by himself and Mr. Blencowe, is all that bears his name in Vol. xi. In Vol. xii. his paper On the Hospital of Lepers at Seaford, is followed by Notices of Sir Edward Dalyngruge the Builder of Bodiam Castle, a pendant to the Bodiam paper above referred to. In Vol. xiii. he gives us the Will of a Sussex Clergyman 300 years ago, and a paper on a subject he had made himself peculiarly master of, Old Speech and Manners in Sussex. To Vol. xiv. he contributed his Parochial History of Chiddingly, his native parish, be it remembered, and a model of the familiar style in which such a subject should be treated. In Vols. xv. and xvi. we have an exhaustive account of The Rivers of Sussex. The author's masterly handling of his aqueous topic earned, in this instance, the praise of that most critical of critical journals, the Saturday Review. Notes on Jack Cade and his adherents, an acceptable addition to Mr. Cooper's paper, is the first of four contributions to vol. xviii, the other three being, a Catalogue of Antiquities in the Society's Museum, Lewes Castle (jointly with Mr. E. Chapman), Notes on Sussex Castles (in which Mr. Cooper was his coadjutor), and On a "Kitchen Midden" at Newhaven. His quota of papers in Vol. xix. also numbers four, namely, On some old Parochial documents relating to Lindfield; Notes on the Family of Whitfeld, or Whitfield, of Northumberland and Sussex; an account of the tragic poaching affray which ended in the Trial and Execution of Thomas Lord Dacre, of Herstmonceux Castle, for Murder; and a brief essay On the Tomb of Richard Burré in Sompting Church. His single contribution to Vol. xx. is On Sir William Springett and the Springett family. He and the Rev. Edw. Turner together furnish Parochial Notices of Horsted Parva to Vol. xxi. In Yol. xxii. his pen is employed On Deeds of the Ancient Family of Cobbe and others, of Sussex, relating to property in Arlington. Notes on old Sussex Families supply him with an apt theme for two papers in Vols. xxiv. and xxv. In Yol. xxiv. he has two other papers; one entitled Newspaper Cuttings relating to Sussex (1678-1771), with Notes and Observations; the other On the Norman origin of the Family of Pelham. In Vol. xxv. appear Some Notices of Charles Sergison (temp. William III. and Queen Anne) and (jointly with Mr. Elwes) Additional Notices of South Bersted. In Vol. xxvi. a Translation of a Latin Roll relating to the Liberties and Immunities of Battel Abbey, the joint work of himself and Mr. J. R. Daniel-Tyssen; and a short paper On a Miniature of John Selden, bring to an end the tale of his chief contributions to the Sussex Archaeological Collections.
For the smaller matters grouped under the head of Minor Communications, Information furnished to other Contributors, &c. seeing that Mr. Lower stands credited with an aggregate of items filling nearly two columns in the General Index, they cannot be enumerated here. Indeed, " their name is Legion." Nor must it be forgotten that as, in his own words, he " was a sketcher before he was seven years old," he was enabled to render good service in a double capacity, as his numerous, and at once faithful and effective drawings, in several of our volumes bear picturesque witness. Moreover, he not only supplied the pictorial illustrations to most of his own articles, but he likewise illustrated the articles of some of his fellow-contributors. Practically, he seldom had the heart to say "Nay!" to any call made upon him, in the direction of his favourite pursuit, whatever sacrifice of time or labour it might entail; and, too often, he allowed strangers to seduce him from his school interests, when a strict regard for them ought to have forced from his lips the utterance of the negative monosyllable.
On Mr. Cooper's retirement from the Editorship of the Society's Collections, in 1865, the Committee, "considering the propriety of appointing a Salaried Editor and Corresponding Secretary," resolved that "Mark Antony Lower, Esq. F.S.A., be appointed" to the joint office, "with such remuneration as the Committee may think his time and labour demand." In 1870 his continued ill-health compelled him to retire from this office, on which occasion the following resolution was entered on the Minutes of the Society's proceedings:—
"Having accepted the resignation by Mr. Lower of his office of Editor of the Society's Collections, the General Committee desire to place on record their appreciation of the services rendered by him to the Society. In the establishment of the Society Mr. Lower took a prominent and very useful part; in the general conduct of its affairs he was ever most zealous; and every volume of the Collections hitherto published, contains evidence of his wide knowledge and research, in his character both of Contributor and Editor. The Committee have great pleasure in knowing that though Mr. Lower has resigned the office of Editor, his valuable co-operation will not be wholly withdrawn."
Of his principal separate publications, the title of the earliest has been already set out in full, on a preceding page, as also that of his latest. For the remainder the following list may be taken as tolerably complete:—
English SURNAMES. Essays on Family Nomenclature, Historical, Etymological, and Humorous. "With Chapters of Rebuses and Canting Arms, the Roll of Battel Abbey, a List of Latinized Surnames, &c., &c. By Mark Antony Lower. "What's in a name?" London. John Russell Smith. MDCCCXLII. 8vo. A second edition being soon called for, the author issued one, revised and enlarged. This was followed by a third edition, still further enlarged, in two volumes, in 1 849; and, not long before his death, a fourth edition, again with additions by the author, was published by Mr. John Russell Smith.
The Curiosities of Heraldry. With Illustrations from Old English Writers. By Mark Antony Lower.. With numerous Wood Engravings. From Designs by the Author. London: John Russell Smith. MDCCCXLV. 8vo.
The Chronicle of Battel Abbey, from 1066 to 1176. Now first translated, with Notes, and an Abstract of the Subsequent History of the Establishment. By Mark Antony Lower, M.A. London: John Russell Smith. MDCCCLI. 8vo.
Contributions to Literature, Historical, Antiquarian, and Metrical. By Mark Antony Lower, M.A. F.S.A. London: John Russell Smith. MDCCCLIV. 8vo.
PATRONYMICA Britannica, a Dictionary of the FAMILY NAMES of the United Kingdom; Endeavoured by Mark Antony Lower, M.A. F.S.A. London: John Russell Smith. MDCCCLX. This work has a portrait of the author, somewhat too leonine, perhaps, but still very like; and a gracefully engraved border on the title page, from his own design. The characteristic portrait, here referred to, thanks to the courtesy of Mr. John Russell Smith, who kindly lends the wood block for the purpose, forms the frontispiece to the present memoir.
The Worthies of Sussex: Biographical Sketches of the most Eminent Natives or Inhabitants of the County, from the earliest Period to the Present Time; with incidental Notices, illustrative of Sussex History. By Mark Antony Lower, M.A. F.S.A. Printed for subscribers only. Lewes: G. P. Bacon. MDCCCLXV. Large 4to.
A Compendious History of Sussex, Topographical, Archaeological, and Anecdotical. Containing an Index to the first Twenty Volumes of the Sussex Archaeological Collections. By Mark Antony Lower, M.A. Lewes: G. P. Bacon. 1870. Two volumes. 8vo.
Historical and Genealogical Notices of the Pelham Family. By Mark Antony LOWER, M.A., F.S.A. Privately printed. 1873. Folio. Of this handsome example of typography from Mr. Bacon's press, a very few copies only were printed.
Sundry smaller, but not unimportant, publications merit a short notice, such as his Handbook for Lewes, which, first issued in 1846, has since passed through several editions. Then, for Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte's renderings of the Song of Solomon into the various provincial dialects, he furnished a version in the Sussex vernacular, a task for which he was well qualified, and in which he succeeded to the full satisfaction of the Prince.
His Stranger at Rouen, a Guide for Englishmen (it can be bought in London, of Mr. Russell Smith) is a little book well adapted to its unambitious purpose. The descriptive text to Nibbs's Churches of Sussex is also from his pen.
Another little book bearing his name, and entitled The Sussex Martyrs, their Examinations and Cruel Burnings in the time of Queen Mary, comprising the interesting personal narrative of Richard Woodman, &c. &c. is a reprint of old John Fox's account, with a preface, and some elucidatory notes.
For his old friend, the London publisher of all his important works, Mr. John Russell Smith, he edited The Lives of the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, by Margaret Duchess of Newcastle, and Camden's Remains concerning Britain. And he contributed several articles to the same publisher's Retrospective Review, a meritorious periodical deserving a much larger share of patronage than, during its too brief existence, the wayward English public chose to bestow upon it.
A work on the Bayeux Tapestry remains in manuscript.
Peculiar to Mark Antony Lower, was his thorough humanity, and his sense of the humorous. Whatever the theme he enlarged upon, it went hard with him if he could not find a human, or a humorous, side to it. His delight was to gather up, in the highways and byways, the nooks and corners, of his native county, quaint bits of character, anecdotes, and incidents of old times, such as were calculated to throw light upon the social history of past days. His humour, too, was a part of him, not an acquired faculty. The son of the author of "Tom Cladpole's Jurney to Lunnun," and "Jan Cladpole's Trip to 'Merricur, in search arter Dollar trees," he unquestionably inherited from his sire his appreciation of the oddities and eccentricities of life in every phase in which they were to be found.
But he was too honest and too earnest a student of antiquity to subordinate reality to romance. Like his old friend Cooper, he was not over-enthusiastic upon the subject of Prehistoric Archæology. The "Flint flake " and "Kitchen-midden" theories found little favour in his eyes, and, in his paper on the discovery at Newhaven of a so-called Kitchen-midden, in the eighteenth volume of the Society's Collections, his incredulity relative to the deductions of the Anthropological experts on that occasion, is, perhaps, a little too pronouncedly expressed, and he recounts a dinner-table joke, got up at their expense, with evident delight. He had not the same facility as his confrere, above-named, who was domiciled in London, had, for consulting authorities, of every kind, at the fountain head, and, sometimes, his forced reliance on second-hand sources of information may have misled him, but he shared his friend's anxiety to be correct. He lived in, and he loved, the country; and so "racy of the soil" was he, that it was difficult to induce him to sleep more than a single night in London, except under pressing and unusual circumstances.
From a graphic article, entitled Through Sussex, in the Temple Bar Magazine for January, 1866, the following passage will well bear transplanting to these pages:—
"Lewes has a famous Antiquary the great authority on surnames Mr. Mark Antony Lower. He is a gentleman with more poetry in him than most of the Dryasdust School: witness his picturesque presentment of the Sussex villages—clusters of lowly habitations, some thatched, some tiled, some abutting the street, some standing angularly towards it, all built of flint or boulders. A barn, a stable, a circular pigeon-house, centuries old, with all its denizens (direct descendants of the old manorial pigeons which lived here in the days of the Plantagenets), and an antique gable or two, peer out among the tall elms.' We fancied we met Mr. Lower close by Lewes Castle. I sketched on the margin of my Murray the ample forehead of the unknown, beneath an archaic hat, the keen observant eyes behind archaic spectacles; and shall leave it by will to the Sussex Archæological Society."
When in his prime, his constant devotion to his work, scholastic, literary, archaeological, kept him too much, it may be, engaged and, always talking about the holidays he meant to, but did not, take, when his school vacations arrived, one who knew his habits, Mr. Joseph Ellis, of Brighton, who, as his special intimates only know, is an admirable inditer of good-humoured flings at the amiable foibles of his acquaintances, "poked his fun" at his Lewes friend after the following facetious fashion:—
Mark Antony Lower enjoys his vacation,
But says there's no time in it for recreation !
And then, for long months, he pursues his vocation,
Like horse in a mill, without any cessation ;
Hence a problem involving no small botheration,
Namely:—which is Vocation, and which is Vacation ?
For the difference here between vo and va,
Should value the same as between work and play,
Or even as much as between do and say.
But whether in vo, or whether in va,
Or whether in work or whether in play,
Or whether in do, or whether in say,
The metamorphosis is with O and A:—
So with Lower—a slave who ne'er kicks off his fetters—
Call it work, call it play, 'tis a question of Letters!
Mr. Lower was for several years a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was Master of Arts of one of the United States Universities; a " Fellow of the Societies of Antiquaries of Normandy, America, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and a Member of the Academy of Sciences of Caen."
Thanks are especially due to Mr. John Dudeney, of Milton House, Lewes, as also to Mr. W. de Warenne Lower, second son of Mr. Lower, for their important assistance in furnishing materials for the foregoing memoir; as also to Mr. Lower's old pupil, Mr. J. E. Price, F.S.A.; to Mr. Joseph Ellis, and to Mr. John Russell Smith.
- Mr. Trower's accounts of Burwash and Findan, in Vols. xxi. xxvi. and xxvii. of the Society's Collections, ought to be mentioned commendatorily here, as excellent examples also of how parochial history should be written. The human element is, in both these papers, admirably blended with the precision of a legally trained mind.—H.C.
- For a rectification of an erroneous Pepys, the diarist, see 25 S. A. C. 234, inference in this paper, relative to 235.
- The author of this pleasant paper, "Through Sussex," was the late Mortimer Collins, who died in July, 1876, and whose vigorous, yet remarkably graceful, vers de société gave such a charm to the columns of Punch. H. C.
- Mr. Ellis has since, and with marked success, turned his leisure to themes of a higher character. See The Times of 10th Feb. 1877, for a most appreciative notice of his "Cæsar in Egypt, and other poems." H. C.
- His old associate, Mr. Charles Roach Smith, F.S.A. thus writes of him: " During our alliance in excavating at Pevensey, I saw much of him, He was full of spirits, with an endurable flow of humour and wit, earnest, and open-hearted. For the important part this eminent antiquary took in raising the fund for Mr. Lower's behoof, alluded to in a previous page, as well as the high esteem in which he held him, see Gent. Mag., June, 1867. H.C.