COLE, Hon. Galbraith Lowry (1772-1842), of Marlbank, co. Fermanagh.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



27 June 1803 - Feb. 1823

Family and Education

b. 1 May 1772, 2nd s. of William Willoughby, 1st Earl of Enniskillen [I], by Anne, da. of Galbraith Lowry (afterwards Lowry Corry), MP [I], of Athenis; bro. of John Willoughby Cole*. educ. Armagh; Portarlington; Stuttgart Univ. 1790-2. m. 15 June 1815, Lady Frances Harris, da. of James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. to Marlbank 1803; KB 1 Feb. 1813, GCB 2 Jan. 1815.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1797-1800.

Cornet 12 Drag. 1787; lt. 5 Drag. 1791; capt. 70 Ft. 1792; maj. 86 Ft. 1793; lt.-col. Ward’s Ft. 1794, 2 Ft. Gds.; col. army 1801, 3 Drag. Gds., 27 Inniskilling Fus. 1803; brig.-gen. 1806, maj.-gen. 1808; col. 103 Ft. 1812, lt.-gen. 1813; col. 70 Ft. 1814, 34 Ft. 1816, 27 Ft. 1826; gen. 1830.

Gov. Gravesend and Tilbury 1818-d., Mauritius Aug. 1822-Jan. 1828, Cape of Good Hope 1828-33.


After a military education, Cole first saw active service at Martinique, where he was aide-de-camp to Sir Charles Grey. He was deputy adjutant-general and aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1797, when he was returned for the family borough of Enniskillen. In May 1799 he attempted to vacate his seat in favour of his brother-in-law Balfour who, however, opposed the Union: Lord Cornwallis was prepared to resist, but was persuaded by the Duke of Portland to accept the resignation, though it was conveniently postponed until 18 Jan. 1800.1 Cole was subsequently military secretary to Lord Hutchinson in Egypt. His father left him ‘well off’ for a younger son in 1803: ‘£4,000, which added to the price of the borough [Enniskillen] gives him £10,000, besides an estate [Marlbank] worth £230 per annum’. He succeeded unopposed to his brother’s seat for the county in June 1803. He delivered his maiden speech on 11 Aug. that year, in criticism of the Irish government’s handling of the July uprising.2 In the spring of 1804 he was reckoned ‘inclined to vote against government but will not act without Lord Enniskillen’s leave, who wishes to be a representative peer’: the threat was doubtless removed by Enniskillen’s obtaining the honour and Cole was listed as a friend of Pitt. On 23 June and 2 July 1804, Cole presented petitions against the professional misconduct of Judge Fox in Ireland.

In December 1804 Cole was absent from Parliament and due shortly to proceed to Malta, to assume the command there, though he was in the House on 18 Feb. 1805. From Malta he proceeded to Sicily, distinguishing himself in action at Maida. In his absence and on the understanding that Lord Enniskillen was friendly to them, government supported him in the contest for Fermanagh in 1806, though if unsuccessful he would have fallen back on the borough of Enniskillen.3 In 1807, likewise, he received the support of the Portland ministry. In 1809 he was transferred from Sicily to the Peninsula, whence he wrote in February 1810, ‘anything is better than a weak ministry in times like these’.4 On 3 Feb. 1812 he was in the House to acknowledge its thanks for his services at Albuera, but in June he returned to Spain, to win further laurels at Salamanca.

The House’s acknowledgment of his gallant services on four occasions was delayed: in July 1814 he presented himself to the Speaker ‘on the very day of the prorogation, which was an impossible time’. Despite a reminder from the Speaker, Sir Lowry neglected to present himself again for so long that Castlereagh’s intervention was at length necessary to secure the vote of thanks to him, 20 May 1816.5 Meanwhile, he had refused the government of Gibraltar in August 1814, on the grounds that it was first offered to his inferior in the service; complaining of ‘unmerited neglect’, he missed Waterloo on account of his honeymoon and joined the occupying army in France. In December 1815 he refused the lieutenant-governorship of Corfu. Earlier that year, it had been suggested to Peel that an Irish office—the hanaper or the post office—might suit him, though incompatible with Parliament, which was awkward as there was no member of the family available to succeed to his seat. In February 1816 his brother unsuccessfully applied for him to be clerk of the pleas in Ireland. In September he refused the government of Ceylon. Subsequently his father-in-law pressed the Duke of York for an appointment for him.6

At the time when he received the House’s thanks for his services, Cole appeared in the government divisions on the civil list, 6 May, and on public revenue, 14 and 17 June 1816, as well as in the majority against Catholic relief, 21 May. He was again in a government majority on 7 Feb. 1817, but he seems to have been on duty in France thereafter until the dissolution. He reappeared in the ensuing Parliament, voting against Catholic relief, 3 May 1819, and with ministers on Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, as well as speaking for the retention of corporal punishment in the army, 15 Mar. Meanwhile he had accepted a military government at home. In 1820 he was reported to have forfeited another (that of Sheerness) by taking the Queen’s part in the division lobby.7 Afterwards he became a colonial governor. He died 4 Oct. 1842.

Cole was commended while in the Peninsula for his ‘very polished manners and great charm’. He was ‘very warm hearted and sincere’ and ‘a keen soldier and would go to the end of the world in pursuit of his profession. He is also an excellent mechanic, has very good taste and understands better than anyone how to keep a comfortable ménage.’ Of himself he admitted in 1814, ‘I am convinced nature never intended me for a public character’.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


M. L. Cole and S. Gwynn, Mems of Sir Lowry Cole (1934).

  • 1. Belmore, Parl. Mems. Fermanagh, 74-76.
  • 2. Cole and Gwynn, 29.
  • 3. HMC Fortescue, viii. 216, 400, 404; NLS mss 12911, Elliot to Fremantle, 16 Nov., reply 18 Nov. 1806.
  • 4. Cole and Gwynn, 61.
  • 5. Colchester, ii. 537, 543, 545, 575, 576.
  • 6. HMC Fortescue, x. 389; Cole and Gwynn, 135, 200-1; PRO 30/43/80-82; Add. 40191, f. 49; 40209, f. 99.
  • 7. Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, ii. 12.
  • 8. Cole and Gwynn, 58-59, 109.