Great American Family: The Lowells of Massachusetts

This is the last of the “Great American Family” Life magazines that I have. This edition is from March 18, 1957 and covers the Lowells of Massachusetts focusing on the sixth through the tenth generations.The Lowells of Massachusetts came to America over two centuries ago. The most notable of the Lowells started with the sixth generation and the Reverend John Lowell. The Lowell family has produced notable poets, federal judges, a famous college president, and has had a strong role in the shaping of Harvard and MIT.

Reverend John LowellReverend John Lowell

The family really began to flourish under the guidance of Reverend John Lowell’s son John Lowell. Known as the “Old Judge,” John Lowell made his fortune as a lawyer sorting out prize claims in the 1770s, was a member of Continental Congress, and founded the first U.S bank in Boston. The Old Judge married three times and had three children. The most notable of these children is Francis Cabot who went to England, studied cotton mills, and brought these techniques back to New England making it the industrial power that it became.

 The Old JudgeStarting with the tenth generation the Lowells began to venture into the arts, science and education. Amy Lowell (1874-1925) never attended college because her family did not believe that it was proper for a young woman. However, she did not let this stop her from becoming a famous poet and a leader of the Imagists poetry movement. She died at the age of 51 from a cerebral hemorrhage and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book of poetry Whats O’Clock a year later.

Poetess Amy LowellPercival Lowell (1855-1916) Amy’s brother was a businessman, author, and mathematician, but is best known for his efforts as astronomer. He traveled to the Far East and wrote several books on the Orient pertaining to Japanese behavior, psychology, and religion. He founded  the Flagstaff observatory and contributed to the discovery of Pluto which was discovered 14 years after his death The name Pluto was influenced by his initials PL.

Pericival LowellAbbot Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943), brother to Percival and Amy followed in the footsteps of the Old Judge choosing a career in letters and law. Abbot became president of Harvard at 52. He was the first Lowell to hold this position, although Harvard had been without a Lowell on its faculty or board in only one out of the 13 decades before him. A. Lawrence Lowell served Harvard for 24 years and raised the endowment from $22.5 to $128 million. However, his tenure was not served without its controversies due to his his views surrounding race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

A.Lawrence LowellA.Lawrence Lowell

The Lowell House at HarvardThe Lowell House at Harvard

Other Notable Lowells (below)

The Rebel

Robert Spence

Francis CabotReverend CharlesJohn AmoryJohn JRAugustusBeau Sabreur

The Lowells of today often trace their family line back to one of three loyalties. First, the are he descendants of the Rebel who later married an Amory are known as the Higginson-Amory. Second, are those who trace their roots back to Francis Cabot and are referred to as the Cabot-Jackson’s, as he married a Jackson. The third line is that of Reverend Charles, who married a Spence, and are called the Russell-Spence line. All three of these line are descendants of the Old Judge. Ralph Lowell explained that the descendants of the Old Judge had remained so prominent by marrying very carefully, although they often kept to themselves and married cousins. The Lowells are not as concentrated as they used to be, but still have a strong representation in the New England area sticking to professions in the arts, education, banking, law and other general good work.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

8 Comments on "Great American Family: The Lowells of Massachusetts"

  1. Great piece on the Lowell Family! I enjoyed reading it! I have always found the textile era in the United States a very sad period. I guess because of the devestation it caused in the North when the industry moved south. Lowell was especially affected. It went from being the largest industrial area in the United States to only a couple mills in operation. Now the mills are mostly condominiums. The population now I think is around 110,000. Know what the population was in 1900? 110,000.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      I am glad that you enjoyed it Calvin. I can relate very much as the city where I live has suffered as industry (Though not textile) has moved to other parts of the country and world. You can still see the ruins of a once thriving town.

  2. max says:

    thanks for sharing this article.

  3. Jen says:

    Cool post. They are such an accomplished family…

    • oxford cloth button down says:


      They sure are accomplished. When I was writing this post, especially the part on Percival I thought to myself, “What have I accomplished?” I think I need to get a little bit more motivated.

  4. Richard A. Lowell Jr says:

    Hi, very interested in figuring out my “Lowell” tree. Open to suggestions.
    I was born Salem Ma. 1957
    Richard A. Lowell Jr
    Richard A. Lowell Sr (Father) Lynn Ma
    W. Lowell I believe my grandfathers name is Wilfred. Lynn Ma
    Just finished reading about James Russel Lowell and the Lowells arrival in Cape Ann with the spelling change from Lowel to Lowell.
    Very interesting reading.
    Thanks Rick

  5. Judy Lynne Lowell says:

    My father was Robert James Lowell. Born in Castle Rock Colorado in about 1916. His father was Ernest Lowell. Ernest Lowell was the last named in the book of geneogoly written by Delmar Lowell. Love learning the history !!!

  6. Rebecca Lowell says:

    Thanks for this. My particular branch of the Lowells headed west. Now I need to go back and check where our branch connects to the trunk. 🙂

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