John Lowell

John Lowell was born around 1595 in Portbury, Somersett, England, the son of Percival and Rebecca Lowell. On 17 February 1619, after being given a good education, he was apprenticed to Richard Baugh, glover of Bristol, England, and his wife Ann. The apprentice papers read: "John, son of Percival Lowle, genersus." Later he joined his father's firm, which was a large import-export mercantile business. John married Mary Gooch about 1628 and they became the parents of four childrn born in England: John, Mary, Peter, and James. In 1629, John became a burgress of Bristol. On 7 September 1637, he took as an apprentice Richard Dole for a period of seven years.


When Percival Lowell decided to come to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639, his entire family accompanied him: his wife, Rebecca; their three children, John, Richard, and Joanna; spouses of their children; their grandchildren; and several others associated with the Lowell business. Among those coming was Richard Dole, as he had five more years of his apprenticeship to serve with John. Mary, John's wife, died soon after the birth of her fifth child, Joseph, born 28 November 1639 in Newbury.


The following year, John Lowell married Elizabeth Goodale, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Parlett) Taylor Goodale. John Goodale, a chandler of Stadsett, Great Yarmouth, England, had died in 1625. Elizabeth's mother, along with some of her children and stepchildren, had come as a widow to Newbury about 1637. Richard Goodale of Salisbury, MA, was a stepson. John and Elizabeth Lowell were parents of three children: Benjamin, Thomas and Elizabeth.


When Newbury was formally organized, March 1642, with ninety proprietors, John and his father were among those named as original proprietors. John, who became a freeman 2 February 1640, was a man of prominence and influence in Newbury, serving in various capacities in the community. He was made constable 10 December 1641, deputy to the General Court 7 March 1644, Commissioner to settle small claims in 1645, and a trial juror in 1642 and 1646. One of John's largest public responsibilities was as a member of the commission of eight appointed in 1642 to consider the desirability of moving the village to a new location. Four years later, these plans were carried out and the village was relocated about two miles north of the old site. John, as an active head of a family, was allotted four acres on the western side of High Street (#28).


John Lowell made his will 29 June 1647 and died 10 July 1647. His will was proved 27 July 1647 in the General Court, Essex Co., MA. He left his widow, Elizabeth, one half of his estate, whether it be goods or land; and she was to choose property worth twenty pounds which came to her through her mother. The rest of his estate was to be divided equally among his living children. John's brother, Richard Lowell, was named guardian of the minor children in May 1648, and later William Gerrish, husband of Joanna Lowell, served as guardian.


John's children by his first marriage, John, Jr., married first Hannah Proctor, second Elizabeth Sylvestor, and third Naomi Sylvestor. Mary married Thomas Wyburn. Joseph married Abigail Proctor. He died 10 August 1705 and is buried in Boston. No further records of Peter (1647) and James (1653) have been found.


After John Lowell's death, his widow, Elizabeth, made her home with her half-sister, Susan (Taylor) Toppan, where she died 23 April 1651. Her will is dated 17 March 1650 and was proved 30 September 1651. She remembered her half-sister, Susan, and her stepsons John, James, and Joseph; but the bulk of her estate went to her daughter Elizabeth, then five, and her son Benjamin, then nine. Her third child, Thomas, was not mentioned, no doubt he was already deceased.


John's son Benjamin, born 12 September 1642, married Ruth Woodman, 17 October 1666. She was the daughter of Edward and Joanna (Salway) Woodman. Benjamin and Ruth were parents of nine children. As an adult, Benjamin filed many suits against his guardians, Richard Lowell and William Gerrish, in regard to their management of his inheritance. These litigations went on for years. The last in 1679, reversed the judgment Benjamin had previously won.


John's youngest daughter, Elizabeth, born 16 February 1646, in Newbury, married Phillip Nelson about 1666. She died 14 December 1731 in Rowley, Essex Co., MA

Submitted by: Lora B. Tindall

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Last Updated February 26, 2005