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Lowe, Mr James Francis

James Francis Lowe was the third child of Charles Simpson John Lowe and the sixth child of Margery Cameron. He was born in 1864 at Berebangalo, between Gunning and Gundaroo, NSW. After initially training as a typesetter in Blayney, NSW, he decided to pursue a career as a primary school teacher instead, probably influenced by his step-father, Hector Murray Gordon. His older brother, Richard C P Lowe, also became a school teacher as did his son, F W A Lowe.

James Francis Lowe married Robina Rogers, daughter of George Rogers and Margaret Ramsay (formerly Ramage), on 13 March 1886 at the Wesleyan Church, Cootamundra, NSW. Robina was born on 23 December 1862 at Red-Bank, near Picton, NSW. They had six children:

Lochiel Robert Lowe (1886), Pasey Farm, Temora Rd, Dudauman, near Cootamundra, NSW,
Francis William Addison Lowe, (1888), Jindalee, Cootamundra, NSW,
Kenneth Fassifern Lowe (1890), Jerrawa, NSW,
Madge Georgina Lowe (1893), Gundaroo, NSW,
George Charles Rogers Lowe, (1896), Michelago, NSW, and
Cherrie Alma Lowe (1899), Michelago, NSW.

James Lowe died on 22 August 1917 at Loch Lomond, Bibbenluke, NSW. His wife Robina
died on 7 August 1936 in Bombala District Hospital.

His time as a teacher at Gundaroo is the subject of this vignette from Lea-Scarlett:

"In [teacher Hector] Gordon's time the [Gundaroo] school residence began to leak and the chimney was endangered as the outcome of the shoddy work performed twenty years before, but his stepson and successor, James F. Lowe, who came to the school on Gordon's retirement at the beginning of 1891, made little complaint about the school or the buildings. That was because of his distraction with other concerns, but he finally admitted that "a shade" had been hanging over the institution for many years.

The shade was, in reality, Lowe himself, not his stepfather, for his unsatisfactory record was not improved by absorption in gold-mining near Gundaroo which influenced him to leave the school occasionally to the supervision of Senior Constable Ewen's pupil-son while he went out on mining business. One day in 1895 he returned from one of his absences to find the district school inspector, D.J. Cooper, conducting the lessons. The inspector's report did not detail Lowe's misdemeanours, beyond stating that he lacked knowledge, ability and natural aptitude, noting at the same time the talking and indiscipline of the pupils, 'much addicted to copying and whispering'."

[extract from Errol Lea-Scarlett, 'Gundaroo', p. 115]

More recently James' great grandson is able to widen the lens a little. He comments:

"What has been written can't be unsaid, and no doubt aspects of it are true, but in James Lowe's defence I must add that he was well respected as a teacher and citizen once he left gold-mining alone. He was presented with a silver watch and chain when he left Michelago and a framed illustrated address from Alectown. There are many favourable reports of J F Lowe's teaching abilities and sporting achievements in the newspapers of the day, in Gundaroo and elsewhere.

The Goulburn Herald of 19 April 1893 reported as follows:

'District Inspector Cooper visited the [Gundaroo] public school on Monday last, and from all accounts reported favourably upon the progress of the children attending the same, which speaks well for the teacher, Mr J F Lowe'. [Goulburn Herald,19 April 1893. P.4]

The same issue reports that 'the vigorous hitting of Mr J F Lowe....elicited applause from the spectators' and helped Gundaroo defeat the visiting Jerrawa Cricket Club.

It must also be mentioned that Robina, his wife, received from the Columbian Exhibition of 1893, in Chicago, a bronze medallion in a silver case in recognition of her skills in teaching needlework to the girls at Gundaroo Primary School and for the work they produced, so some copying, when sewing at least, was admired".

'Mrs. Lowe, teacher of sewing at Micalago school, a few days ago received a prize medal from the Chicago World's Fair. It is a bronze medal, in a silver case, with certificate. At the time she sent her work to the Exhibition Mrs. Lowe was at Gundaroo'.
[Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 3 Dec 1896, p 4]

J F Lowe's teaching career:

[much of this material has been kindly supplied by James Lowe's grandson, Brett Lowe]


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