Montague William Lowry-Corry, baron Rowton - Encyclopedia

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MONTAGUE WILLIAM LOWRY ROWTON - CORRY, Baron (1838-1903), second son of the Right Hon. Henry Corry by his wife Harriet, daughter of the 6th earl of Shaftesbury, was born in London on the 8th of October 1838, educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and called to the bar in 1863. His father, a son of the 2nd earl of Belmore, represented County Tyrone in parliament continuously for fortyseven years (1826-73), and was a member of Lord Derby's cabinet (1866-68) as vice-president of the council and afterwards as first lord of the Admiralty. Montague Corry was thus brought up in close touch with Conservative party politics; but it is said to have been his winning personality and social accomplishments rather than his political connexions that recommended him to the favourable notice of Disraeli, who in 1866 made Corry his private secretary. From this time till the statesman's death in 1881 Corry maintained his connexion with Disraeli, the relations between the two men being more intimate and confidential than usually subsist between a private secretary and his political chief. When Disraeli resigned office in 1868 Corry declined various offers of public employment in order to be free to continue his services, now given gratuitously, to the Conservative leader; and when the latter returned to power in 1874, Corry resumed his position as official private secretary to the prime minister. He accompanied Disraeli (then earl of Beaconsfield) to the congress of Berlin in 1878, where he acted as one of the secretaries of the special embassy of Great Britain. On the defeat of the Conservatives in 1880, Corry was raised to the peerage with the title of Baron Rowton, of Rowton Castle, Shropshire. He had rendered service of an exceptional order to his chief, and after Beaconsfield's removal to the House of Lords his private secretary became invaluable in keeping him in touch with the rank and file of his party. Lord Rowton was in Algiers when Beaconsfield was stricken with his last illness in the spring of 1881; but returning post-haste across Europe, he was present at the death-bed of his old chief. Beaconsfield (q.v.) bequeathed to Rowton all his correspondence and other papers.

Lord Rowton will long be remembered as the originator of the scheme known as the Rowton Houses. Consulted by Sir 2 William Borne or Bird engaged to play with the Admiral's Men for three years from 1597. In 1600 he borrowed 30s. from Henslowe to pay for a new play, Jugurth, by W. Boyle (probably another name for himself). He helped S. Rowley in Joshua (1601), and in additions (2602) to Marlowe's Dr Faustus. His connexion with the theatre ceased about 1622.

Edward Guinness (afterwards Lord Iveagh) with regard to the latter's projected gift of £ 200,000 for endowment of a trust for the improvement of the dwellings of the working classes, Rowton made himself personally familiar with the conditions of the poorest inhabitants of London; and he determined to establish "a poor man's hotel," which should offer better accommodation than the common lodging-houses, at similar prices. In the face of much discouragement and difficulty, the first Rowton House was opened at Vauxhall in December 1892, the cost (£30,000) being defrayed by Lord Rowton, though he was by no means a man of great wealth. In 1894 a company, Rowton Houses (Limited), was incorporated to extend the scheme, a main characteristic of which was that the houses should not be charitable institutions but should be on a paying commercial basis. The scheme proved a gratifying success, and was imitated not only in many of the chief towns of Great Britain, but also in different countries of Europe and in America (see Housing). Lord Rowton also devoted himself to the business of the Guinness Trust, of which he was a trustee, and was interested in many philanthropic schemes. Lord Rowton was unmarried, and the title consequently became extinct at his death, which occurred in London on the 9th of November 1903.

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