6 thoughts on “Mayrinck Lowndes and scandal in C19th Brazil

  1. Incidentally – for any Portuguese speakers following this thread – I also recently discovered Henry Lowndes’ obituary from Rio’s Diario da Noite of 06 August 1931 (http://memoria.bn.br/DocReader/docreader.aspx?bib=221961_01&PagFis=7228) and a piece singing his praises as a philanthropist and patron of the arts from 1902 (http://memoria.bn.br/DocReader/DocReader.aspx?bib=341398&PagFis=261 – pages 1 and 2). Both seem to illustrate efforts to rehabilitate Henry after his downfall under the Second Republic. There is also a substantial collection of documents on Henry held by the Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa in Rio.

  2. The article is about Henry, Count of Leopoldina (1861-1931), not John Henry. My earlier post was wrong in describing John as the younger brother. He appears to have been a respectable textile manufacturer (the family business for three generations back in Paisley and before that North-East Cheshire), rather than a stocks and railways speculator like his brother Henry. The 1853 edition of Burke’s landed gentry and Ruvigny’s 1910 ‘Nobilities of Europe’ together give a reasonably accurate summary of their geneology (apart from the spurious Overton link picked up on Mike’s main family history pages).

    I ran into one of the Lowndes of Rio clan when I lived in Brasilia. At the time I was unaware that we were distantly related through John’s and Henry’s great-great-grandfather Matthew Lowndes of North Rode (1705-1775).

  3. A bit late but a question – In Gamboa Cemetery there is a burial for a John Henry Lowndes (born 1855 died 6 May 1924). Is the above article about Henry the Visconde de Leopoldina or John Henry who died 1924??

  4. Should have mentioned – £48,198 in 1900 is worth upwards of £3.5 million now. But the Times report of his bankruptcy hearing heard that his Brazilian fortune was of the order of £6 million net, which is around half a billion pounds in today’s money!

  5. This piece refers to a “John Henry” Lowndes, but is actually about Henry Lowndes, Count of Leopoldina (conflating Henry with his younger brother John Steel Lowndes), and his role as a speculator in inflating the 1889-91 Brazilian financial bubble (the “Encilhamento”- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encilhamento) alongside those of Francisco Mayrink.

    Both men were associates of Ruy Barbosa, finance minister in Brazil’s first Republican government, in which role he introduced “fiat” money and effectively created the conditions for the speculative bubble that Lowndes and Mayrink profited from.

    Henry Lowndes found himself on the losing side of an attempted coup against Brazil’s second President, Floriano Peixot , and was deported to Venezuela and declared bankrupt in April 1892. Barbosa was also forced into exile for two years after the navy revolt of 1893-94 against Peixot. Barbosa subsequently represented Lowndes in his attempts to overturn the bankruptcy declaration. These failed in 1897 (see below). Henry Lowndes came to London in 1894 and set himself up as a company promoter at 47, Old Broad Street, but rapidly ran up liabilities of £48,198 which left him subject to bankruptcy proceedings which were reported in The Times on 21 June 1900.

    Henry Lowndes is immortalised as the character “William Drows” in the 1894 serialised novel “O Encilhamento” by Alfredo, Visconde de Taunay (a monarchist and no fan of the first republic, according to his Wikipedia entry): “Drows, Viscount of Petrolina, the ‘devil-in-chief’, the principal character in the greatest of all bankruptcies of the episode, the General Company for Railways, whose debentures (‘misadventures’) appear in various chapters of the serial”

    Further background on the period can be found in The Financial Crisis of Abolition http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=__s6Uvt1354C&lpg=PR1&dq=The%20Financial%20Crisis%20of%20Abolition&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q=The%20Financial%20Crisis%20of%20Abolition&f=false

    In Henry Lowndes v. Bank of Brazil, the action was against the bank and the Federal Union for damages on account of the illegal sequestration of plaintiff’s property under a court order, and declaration of bankruptcy. The Supreme Court of Brazil ruled that:

    “The sequestration and bankruptcy, although unjust and injurious to the rights of plaintiff, do not, in any way, give a right of action against the Federal Union, because, in principle, the acts of the Judiciary do not engage the responsibility of the State: the method to redress the wrong which they occasion consisting in recourse to the courts a quo, or to the courts of higher jurisdiction; and, in addition to the publicity, the exposition of motives of the judgments, and the audience of the parties, the latter can join, either in a positive way, or by omission or negligence, so that the damages suffered can be recouped;”

    “That, according to all legislation and the best known jurisconsults, it is in the public interest to guarantee at the same time the prestige of the courts and the safety of the parties, and only in the cases expressly provided by law can judicial acts give rise to responsibility, thereby constituting a derogation of the common law, recommended, in the phrase of Mattirolo, by decorum, the dignity of the judiciary, and the special character of the power with which it is entrusted; in the discharge of which functions, as Ruy Barbosa says, the error in the majority of cases is nothing else than the effect of diversity of views on controversial matters, -without initiative, but being the mere executor of the written law, the judge cannot violate it except by a wrong understanding of it, or criminal intent to transgress it; and we have in the first case an error which is the child of the understanding, and its correction in the means of redress, and therefore he renders himself liable to punishment only in the second case, where there is an act of the will”

    (Opinion in Criminal Appeal, no. 215, decided. on February 10, 1897, by the Federal Supreme Court)

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