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JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
IN the year 1639 Percival Lowle, or Lowell, a merchant of Bristol, England, landed at the little seaport town of Newbury, Mass.
We generally speak of a man's descent. In the case of James Russell Lowell's ancestry it was rather an ascent through eight generations. Percival Lowle's son, John Lowell, was a worthy cooper in old Newbury; his great-grandson was a shoemaker, his great-great-grandson was the Rev. John Lowell of Newburyport, the father of the Hon. John Lowell, who is regarded as the author of the clause in the Massachusetts Constitution abolishing slavery.
Judge Lowell's son, Charles, was a Unitarian minister, "learned, saintly, and discreet." He married Miss Harriet Traill Spence, of Portsmouth, - a woman of superior mind, of great wit, vivacity, and an impetuosity that reached eccentricity. She was of Keltic blood, of a family that came from the Orkneys, and claimed descent from the Sir Patrick Spens of "the grand old ballad." Several of her family were connected with the American navy. Her father was Keith Spence, purser of the frigate "Philadelphia," and a prisoner at Tripoli.
By ancestry on both sides, and by connections with the Russells and other distinguished families, Lowell was a good type of the New England gentleman.
He was born on the 22d of February, 1819, at Elmwood, not far from Brattle Street, Cambridge.
This three-storied colonial mansion of wood was built in 1767 by Thomas Oliver, the last royal Lieutenant-Governor, before the Revolution.1 Like other houses in "Tory Row,"
1 Thomas Oliver was graduated from Harvard College in the class of 1753. He was a gentleman of fortune, and lived first in Roxbury. He bought the property on