'The Yellow Earl'
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
5th Earl of Londsdale.
Explorer, sportsman, eccentric,
was one of the richest men in England
and instigated the 'Londsdale Belt'
Born in 1857, he and younger brother Lancelot were never expected to inherit the family fortune and so remarkably never really had a proper education, that was reserved for his elder brother George. Hugh spent most of his time in the stables or roaming the countryside. He even joined a travelling Circus and afterwards went to America to find his fortune, buffalo hunting or cattle ranching, he exchanged his birthright in the hope of funding a business. When it failed, the family trustees had to buy it back and Hugh scuttled back to Lowther Castle, one of the many family seats.
Watching his elder brother George receive all the attention growing up and inherit the estates and titles must have been difficult, nurturing seeds of resentment. He often tried to outdo or upstage his elder brother. Scandalous and ostentatious, he was rejected by the upper echelons of society.
Unexpectedly, George died in 1882. This cloud had a silver lining and Hugh inherited the lot. The years of playing second fiddle and ostracization were over. Some £20,000,000 a year poured in from coal mines on family land. He owned 75,000 acres and extended his parkland
to rival that of Windsor Great Park. He owned Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England,Lake Grassmere and Hawes Water now amongst the most popular tourist destinations in the Lake District, famed for their natural beauty. Lowther Castle one of several family seats was said to have a room for every day of the year, 365 in total. He updated the gardens and this came in handy when he entertained Royalty and even the German Emperor.
A Good Sport
With some of the best hunting grounds and countryside within the family estates, he naturally developed a love of sports. He owned stables and as joint founder and first President of the National Sporting Club later (British Boxing Board of Control) he put up the prize money for Boxing's 'Londsdale Belt' (1909) , now the oldest belt in British championship boxing. It bears his portrait and was crafted from 22 carat gold and porcelain.
Much ado A'bout' nothing?
Jem Smith, the English champion, was proposed to fight The heavyweight Champion of the World, John Sullivan . For whatever reason ,the fight didn't take place. Hugh took exception to this and announced even he could beat the World Champion. After sailing to New York, the fight was said to have taken place in secret, with Hugh victorious. He wrote an account in
The People “I can look at my strong right hand and say with truth, this hand put to sleep John L. Sullivan!”
His sporting pursuits included an impromptu trek to the North Pole in 1888 on the advice of Queen Victoria. It was to deflect gossip about his affair with Actress Lilly Langtree. The expedition cost 100 lives and he ended up in Kodiak Island barely surviving.These exploits and his horsemanship, rules of fair play, sponsorship of the sports, endeared him to the public and made him a popular national celebrity. In later life he was Chairman of Arsenal Football Club (1936).
The Lowther's were as famous as they had ever been, but this celebrity came at a cost. As well as funding for the Boer War and First World War, the spending had emptied the family
coffers. One by one, the family estates were sold off, Lowther Castle was shut down, (The family still own it and are preserving it). Lancelot inherited the estates after Hugh's death in 1944. The family collections were largely sold in 1947. The 7th Earl was a conservationist and consolidated family finances. He helped preserve the Lake District that we see today.
And It Was All Yellow
Hugh developed a fascination for the colour yellow and was often sporting a yellow Gardenia in his button hole grown in his own hothouses as well as a trademark cigar in his hand.His carriage with yellow livery was to be seen following the Royal Carriage at sporting events. He even owned a fleet of yellow cars and all the household servants sported yellow jackets.
Photo: Lowther Castle with a personal fleet of yellow Rolls Royce's.
Photo: Armorial of Lowther, Earls of Londsdale.
Motto: 'Magistratus Indicat Virum'. Plate offered by kingschina.
A plate with 'trademark' yellow border.
Look at the stars and how they shine for you,
and everything you do,
they were all yellow...
(Lyrics to 'Yellow' by Coldplay).