Lowell, John, 1743-1802

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John Lowell (June 17, 1743 – May 6, 1802) was a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation, a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture under the Articles of Confederation, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit.

Born on June 17, 1743, in Newburyport, Province of Massachusetts Bay, Lowell graduated from Harvard University before reading law. After being admitted to the bar, he entered private practice in Newburyport from 1763 to 1771, 1773, and 1775. He was a selectman for Newburyport from 1771 to 1772, in 1774, and in 1776. In the spring of 1774, he signed addresses complimenting royal governors Thomas Hutchinson and Thomas Gage, but made a public apology for doing so at the end of the year. He served in the Massachusetts militia as a major in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. He continued private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1777 to 1778, and from 1779 to 1781. After moving to Boston, Lowell became the leading attorney in Massachusetts representing privateer claims before the Admiralty Court, which formed the basis of his fortune. Of the 1100 privateering claims handled in Boston, Lowell was lead counsel in approximately 700, and assistant counsel in half the rest. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1778, and from 1780 to 1782. He was a delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention in 1780. He was a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation from 1782 to 1783. He was a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture under the Articles of Confederation starting in 1783. He was a member of a commission on the boundary between Massachusetts and New York in 1784. He was a member of the Massachusetts Senate from 1784 to 1785.

Lowell was nominated by President George Washington on September 24, 1789, to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission on September 26, 1789. Lowell was nominated by President John Adams on February 18, 1801, to the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit, to the new Chief Judge seat authorized by 2 Stat. 89. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 20, 1801, and received his commission the same day. His service terminated with his death in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790. James Bowdoin papers, 1785-1786. Library of Congress
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf Ames, Fisher, 1758-1808. ALS : New York, N.Y., to John Lowell, 1789 Apr. 8. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Lowell, John, 1743-1802. Papers, 1629-1894 (inclusive), 1764-1803 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Gorham, Nathaniel, 1738-1796. DS, 1787 April 26, Boston, Massachusetts. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Lowell, John, 1769-1840. ANS, [n.d.]. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810. ALS, 1782 September 24 : Philadelphia, to John Lowell. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915 Houghton Library
referencedIn Holten, Samuel, 1738-1816. Papers of Samuel Holten, 1630-1843 (bulk 1744-1843). Library of Congress
referencedIn Gardner, Samuel Pickering, 1767-1843. Samuel P. Gardner Papers, 1788-1881. Peabody Essex Museum
referencedIn James Russell Lowell additional papers, 1736-1951. Houghton Library
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
creatorOf United States. President (1797-1801 : Adams). John Adams, President of the United States of America, to all who shall see these presents, greeting: Know ye that ... Jeremiah Smith of New Hampshire ... , 1801. Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
creatorOf Jay, John, 1745-1829. LS, 1785 May 10, Office for Foreign Affairs, to John Lowell, Boston. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Benjamin Bussey collection 1767-1872 1800-1847 Bussey, Benjamin collection William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891. Additional papers, 1767-1898. Houghton Library
creatorOf Farnham, Daniel. Law clerk's account book, 1772-1780. Boston College, Law Library
referencedIn Cabot, George, 1752-1823. George Cabot correspondence, 1796-1811. Library of Congress
referencedIn James Russell Lowell additional papers, 1802-1898. Houghton Library
creatorOf Bussey, Benjamin, 1757-1842. Benjamin Bussey collection, 1767-1872, bulk 1800-1847. William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Lowell, John, 1743-1802. A collection of poems by a young gentleman of Harvard Colledge & a young lady of Newbury, 1759-1760. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Letters to John Lowell relating to Harvard College faculty salaries, 1781-1782 Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Adams, Samuel, 1722-1803. Examination of the claim of New York (State), [1784]. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Otis, Harrison Gray, 1765-1848. Autograph letter signed : Boston, possibly to Judge John Lowell, 1791 Mar. 12. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Sumner, Increase, 1746-1799. Letters received, 1797-1799. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Samuel Holten Papers, 1630-1843, (bulk 1744-1843) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Lowell, John, 1743-1802. Letter, 1767 July 19. Portsmouth Athenaeum Library & Museum
referencedIn Harvard University. Letters relating to faculty salaries, 1781-1812. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letter, 1786 August 17, Paris, to [Samuel Adams or John Lowell], Boston [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Bingham, W. mss., 1752-1891 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876 (bulk:1700-1800) New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810. Letter, 1782 Dec. 10, Philadelphia, Pa., to John Lowell. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Society for the Study of Natural Philosophy. Records, 1801-1807. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Amy Lowell autograph collection, 1523-1930. Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859. Autograph manuscript letter (signed) to [Mary] Berry; Bourges, 1843 September 1. Houghton Library
creatorOf Lowell, Charles, 1782-1861. Manuscripts, 1657-1853. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Autograph File, L, 1641-1976. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ames, Fisher, 1758-1808. person
associatedWith Bingham, William person
correspondedWith Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790. person
associatedWith Bussey, Benjamin, 1757-1842. person
correspondedWith Cabot, George, 1752-1823. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Emmet, Thomas Addis person
associatedWith Gardner, Samuel Pickering, 1767-1843. person
associatedWith Gorham, Nathaniel, 1738-1796. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Harvard University. corporateBody
associatedWith Holten, Samuel, 1738-1816. person
associatedWith Jay, John, 1745-1829. person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810. person
correspondedWith Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925 person
associatedWith Lowell, Charles, 1782-1861. person
associatedWith Lowell family. family
grandparentOf Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
parentOf Lowell, John, 1769-1840. person
ancestorOf Lowell, John, 1856-1922. person
associatedWith Massachusetts. Provincial Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith Otis, Harrison Gray, 1765-1848. person
associatedWith Palfrey family. family
associatedWith Society for the Study of Natural Philosophy. corporateBody
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Sumner, Increase, 1746-1799. person
associatedWith Treadwell, Daniel, 1735-1760 person
memberOf United States. Continental Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. District Court (Massachusetts) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. President (1797-1801 : Adams) corporateBody
correspondedWith Whipple,Joseph, 1738-1816 person
associatedWith Wolfe, James, 1727-1759 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Newburyport MA US
Cambridge MA US
Boston MA US
Roxbury MA US
Québec Campaign, Québec, 1759
Women poets, American
a Poetry
Boundaries, State
Debtor and creditor
Executions (Law)
Fall of man
Fall of man
Militia officers
State Representative
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress
Federal Judge


Birth 1743-06-17

Death 1802-05-06






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