Of this 18-acre meadow, the manor portion was deeded to a trust in 1907 by Emily Serena Gilman and Louisa Gilman Lane "in consideration of their love and goodwill to the inhabitants of Norwich, and in memory of their sister, Maria Perit Gilman, and of their Lathrop ancestry...to be kept as a free open space for the public good, to be unencumbered by dwelling houses, barns, or any nuisance whatever."
Thinking that their emigrating ancestors, the Rev. John Lothropp and his son Samuel, had been born in Lowthorpe, England, source of the family name, the sisters chose "Lowthorpe" for the meadows. In fact, John Lothropp's baptism was recorded in Etton, Yorkshire, on Dec. 20, 1584. After attending Cambridge University, he served as a clergyman in the Church of England in Kent. Later, while minister of the first independent church in Southwark, London, he was imprisoned for his religious beliefs and activities. Upon his release, he, along with family and followers, sailed to Boston on the Griffin in 1634. He was pastor at Scituate and then Barnstable, Plymouth Colony, where he died on November. 8 1654. Samuel (ca. 1620-1700), a builder and judge in Pequot (now New London), settled in Norwich in 1668 and was later listed as "Constable" and "Townsman," substantial local
offices. These lands were held by his descendants for 150 years.
An account of 1659 alleges Lowthorpe Meadows to be a "dark and dolorous swamp... the haunt of wolves and venemous serpents from whence it is said, often at nightfall, low howlings issued and phosphorescent lights were seen, very fearfyl and appalling to the early planters." Though the veracity of the description can be questioned now, the meadow was once considered a blight in Norwichtown. Bounties were offered at annual rattlesnake hunts held from April 1st to May 15th until 1764. In 1721 alone, 160 bounties were claimed. The town also encouraged wolf hunts; the last bounty was paid in 1718 to a later Samuel Lothrup for a wolf likely taken in this vicinity.
The Lowthorpe Association, a group of interested Norwichtown citizens, manages the care of this beautiful meadow. They hope that all will enjoy this most worthwhile of gifts, as the Gilman Sisters wished.
Marker courtesy of the Lothropp Family Association