Lowell, John, 1743-1802

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John Lowell (1743-1802) was a Massachusetts lawyer and judge who served in the Continental Congress (1782-1783). His son John Lowell (1769-1840) was a Massachusetts lawyer, agriculturist, philanthropist, and Federalist pamphlet writer.

From the description of Papers, 1629-1894 (inclusive), 1764-1803 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612366665

John Lowell (1743-1802) was born in Newbury, Massachusetts on June 17, 1743. He attended Harvard College, where he received an A.B. in 1760. While an undergraduate, Lowell excelled as a writer of poetry and prose. Following graduation, he studied law under Oxenbridge Thacher. He began practicing law in 1763, was admitted as an attorney in 1765 and as barrister in 1767; his highly successful practice extended from Newburyport, Massachusetts into New Hampshire and Maine. Lowell married Sarah Higginson of Salem in 1767; she died only a few years later, in 1772. He remarried, to Susanna Cabot, in 1774; she died in 1777. Lowell's third marriage, to Rebecca Russell, was in 1778. Lowell served as Selectman and Moderator of Newburyport, Representative to the General Courts of Newburyport and Boston, a framer of the Massachusetts constitution, jurist, delegate to the Continental Congress, and federal judge, among other notable positions. He was a member of the Harvard Corporation and a founding trustee of Philips Academy. John Lowell died in Roxbury, Massaschusetts on May 6, 1802.

From the description of A collection of poems by a young gentleman of Harvard Colledge & a young lady of Newbury, 1759-1760. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 635938329

Lawyer, politician, and judge, of Newburyport, Mass.

From the description of Letter, 1767 July 19. (Portsmouth Athenaeum Library & Museum). WorldCat record id: 70961291

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Harvard College received annual grants from the Massachusetts General Court to partially fund faculty salaries. During the Revolutionary War, the depreciating value of money in Massachusetts made it difficult for the Harvard Corporation to provide College officers with adequate salaries. Between 1756 and 1778, salaries tripled in response to inflation but remained inadequate, and President and the faculty regularly petitioned the Corporation for salary increases.

In 1778, the Corporation had directed College Treasurer Ebenezer Storer to invest most of the College's money in Continental certificates and Massachusetts treasury notes. These investments coincided with the beginning of a period of rapid depreciation of paper money. As the College's Treasury was diminishing, the new state government was growing increasingly unresponsive to the faculty and Corporation's petitions for additional grants. In its attempt to support the faculty, the Corporation charged students additional fees (known as assessments) to provide pay raises, and in December 1781, the Corporation advanced cash to each professor. In 1784, the Corporation began providing loans to College officers with the expectation that the General Court would provide reimbursement. While the General Court did pay the President's salary from 1784 to 1786 and provided some additional grants for the professors in the early 1780s, the General Court did not provide regular grants as it had previously in the colonial era, and the last grant issued to any of the College officers by the General Court was made on May 31, 1786.

Even as the Corporation increased salaries, both the tutors and the professors continued to request additional money into the 19th century. By 1810, inflation had started to decrease in Massachusetts, and the repeated requests for salary increases by Harvard faculty and staff ceased.

John Lowell (1743-1802), a Massachusetts lawyer and judge, was born on June 17, 1743 in Newburyport, Mass. He received an AB from Harvard in 1760, an AM in 1763, and an LLD in 1792. Lowell began practicing law in 1763 in Newburyport. In 1778, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and between May and August 1782 represented Massachusetts in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Lowell was appointed first Judge of the Court of the District of Massachusetts in 1792, and in 1801, the Chief Justice of the First United States Circuit Court. In 1784, Lowell was elected as a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation and served until his death on May 6, 1802.

From the guide to the Letters to John Lowell relating to Harvard College faculty salaries, 1781-1782, (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Harvard University. Letters relating to faculty salaries, 1781-1812. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891. Additional papers, 1767-1898. Houghton Library
creatorOf Otis, Harrison Gray, 1765-1848. Autograph letter signed : Boston, possibly to Judge John Lowell, 1791 Mar. 12. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn James Russell Lowell additional papers, 1802-1898. Houghton Library
referencedIn James Russell Lowell additional papers, 1736-1951. Houghton Library
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915 Houghton Library
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
referencedIn Bingham, W. mss., 1752-1891 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Lowell, John, 1769-1840. ANS, [n.d.]. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Holten, Samuel, 1738-1816. Papers of Samuel Holten, 1630-1843 (bulk 1744-1843). Library of Congress
creatorOf Lowell, John, 1743-1802. Papers, 1629-1894 (inclusive), 1764-1803 (bulk). Houghton 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 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
referencedIn Cabot, George, 1752-1823. George Cabot correspondence, 1796-1811. Library of Congress
creatorOf Bussey, Benjamin, 1757-1842. Benjamin Bussey collection, 1767-1872, bulk 1800-1847. William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Lowell, John, 1743-1802. Letter, 1767 July 19. Portsmouth Athenaeum Library & Museum
referencedIn Gorham, Nathaniel, 1738-1796. DS, 1787 April 26, Boston, Massachusetts. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Samuel Holten Papers, 1630-1843, (bulk 1744-1843) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Society for the Study of Natural Philosophy. Records, 1801-1807. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf Farnham, Daniel. Law clerk's account book, 1772-1780. Boston College, Law Library
referencedIn Benjamin Bussey collection, Bussey, Benjamin collection, 1767-1872, 1800-1847 William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Adams, Samuel, 1722-1803. Examination of the claim of New York (State), [1784]. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Lowell, Charles, 1782-1861. Manuscripts, 1657-1853. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Autograph File, L, 1641-1976. Houghton Library
creatorOf Letters to John Lowell relating to Harvard College faculty salaries, 1781-1782 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790. James Bowdoin papers, 1785-1786. Library of Congress
creatorOf Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810. Letter, 1782 Dec. 10, Philadelphia, Pa., to John Lowell. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810. ALS, 1782 September 24 : Philadelphia, to John Lowell. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Jay, John, 1745-1829. LS, 1785 May 10, Office for Foreign Affairs, to John Lowell, Boston. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letter, 1786 August 17, Paris, to [Samuel Adams or John Lowell], Boston [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Ames, Fisher, 1758-1808. ALS : New York, N.Y., to John Lowell, 1789 Apr. 8. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Gardner, Samuel Pickering, 1767-1843. Samuel P. Gardner Papers, 1788-1881. Peabody Essex Museum
creatorOf Sumner, Increase, 1746-1799. Letters received, 1797-1799. Boston Athenaeum
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 Gardner, Samuel Pickering, 1767-1843. person
associatedWith Gorham, Nathaniel, 1738-1796. person
associatedWith 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
associatedWith Lowell family. family
associatedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
associatedWith Lowell, John, 1769-1840. person
associatedWith 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 Sumner, Increase, 1746-1799. person
associatedWith Treadwell, Daniel, 1735-1760 person
associatedWith 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
United States
New Hampshire--Portsmouth
United States
New York (State)
Creation--Biblical teaching
Fall of man--Poetry
Debtor and creditor
a Poetry--Women authors
Women poets, American--18th century
Fall of man--Biblical teaching
Québec Campaign, 1759--Poetry
Temptation--Biblical teaching
Boundaries, State
Executions (law)
Legislators--United States


Birth 1743-06-17

Death 1802-05-06


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