Born in Nottingham, Lowe moved to Australia 1841 where he became a lawyer and served in the New South Wales Legislative Council. On his return to Britain in 1850 he became a leader writer for The Times and was elected to Parliament in 1852 as Liberal MP for Kidderminster and rapidly promoted to ministerial office, serving at the Boards of Trade and Education. In 1856 he was responsible for the joint Stock Companies Act, the first national codification of company law in the world. Lowe was implacably opposed to parliamentary reform and fell out with Russell and Gladstone over their 1866 Reform Bill. Described by John Bright as having retired into the ‘Cave of Adullam’, Lowe (along with his supporters known forever as the Adullamites) opposed the bill with a series of brilliant speeches and played a major role in defeating the bill and ending the Liberal Ministry. Later making peace with Gladstone, he served in the latter’s first administration as Chancellor of the Exchequer and later as Home Secretary. From 1875 Lowe’s health began to decline and he gradually retired from public life. He left the House of Commons in 1880 and went to the Lords as Viscount Sherbrooke. He died in 1892.