Robert Lowell

Birth Name: Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV

Date of Birth: March 1, 1917

Place of Birth: Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Date of Death: September 12, 1977

Place of Death: New York City, New York, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, Scottish, Dutch, 7/64ths Ashkenazi Jewish, Northern Irish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish

Robert Lowell was an American poet. His works were frequently set in Boston and the entire New England region.

Robert was the son of Charlotte (Winslow) and Commander Robert Traill Spence Lowell III. He was born into an upper-class Boston family, with many prominent ancestors. The Lowells were well-known Boston Brahmin, whose members included noted clergymen, authors, judges, and military figures. Robert had partial Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry on both sides of his family, tracing to both Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Paternally, Robert was a first cousin, twice removed, of railroad executive, foundryman, and Union Army general Charles Russell Lowell; a third cousin, once removed, of astronomer Percival Lowell, educator and legal scholar A. Lawrence Lowell, who was President of Harvard University, from 1909 to 1933, and imagist school poet Amy Lowell; and a fourth cousin, three times removed, of Democratic Party politician Jake Auchincloss. He was also a great-great-great-grandson of Founding Father, attorney, jurist, and American Revolutionary leader James Duane, who was Mayor of New York City, from 1784 to 1789.

Maternally, Robert was a great-great-great-great-grandson of William Samuel Johnson, a Founding Father and statesman, who was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, from March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1791, and President of Columbia University, from 1787 to 1800; and a five times great-grandson of William’s father, Samuel Johnson, a prominent clergyman, educator, linguist, encyclopedist, historian, and philosopher, who was President of King’s College, from 1754 to 1763; and of revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist theologian Jonathan Edwards, who was President of Princeton University, in 1758.

Robert was married to English writer Lady Caroline Blackwood, until his death. He had a daughter with his former wife, literary critic, novelist, and short story writer Elizabeth Hardwick; and a son with Lady Caroline.

Robert’s paternal grandfather was Robert Traill Spence Lowell, Jr. (the son of Robert Traill Spence Lowell and Mary Anne Duane). Robert’s grandfather Robert was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was an Episcopal clergyman and educator. Robert’s great-grandfather Robert was the son of The Rev. Charles Russell Lowell, a Unitarian minister, and of Harriet Traill/Brackett Spence, who was born on the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and had Scottish and Colonial American roots. Robert’s great-great-great-grandfather was prominent judge John Lowell, who was Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court for the First Circuit, from February 20, 1801 to May 6, 1802. His great-great-aunt was author Mary Lowell Putnam, and his great-great-uncle was Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat James Russell Lowell. Robert was also a half-great-great-great-nephew of lawyer and Federalist Party politician John Lowell, Jr.; and of businessperson Francis Cabot Lowell, for whom Lowell, Massachusetts, is named.

Robert’s great-grandmother Mary Anne Duane was the daughter of James Chatham Duane, Jr. and Harriet Constable, who was born in London, England. James’ father was James Duane, whose own father was a Protestant Irish emigrant, from Galway. Through James’ wife, his great-great-great-grandmother, Robert was also descended from the prominent Livingston and Schuyler families of New York.

Robert’s paternal grandmother was Kate Bailey Myers (the daughter of Algernon Sydney Myers and Catherine/Caroline Chappell). Kate was born in Illinois. Algernon was the brother of lawyer, philanthropist, and U.S. Army colonel Theodorus Bailey Myers. Algernon’s father was Maj. Mordecai Myers, a merchant, army officer, and politician, who was born in Newport, Rhode Island, to Jewish parents, from Hungary and Austria, respectively, and was mayor of Kinderhook and Schenectady, New York. Algernon’s mother was Charlotte Bailey. Charlotte was the daughter of Judge William Bailey, and the sister of U.S. Navy Officer Theodorus Bailey.

Robert’s maternal grandfather was Arthur Winslow (the son of Francis Winslow, Commander, and of Mary Sophia Nelson). Arthur was born in North Carolina. Francis was the son of Joshua Winslow and Sarah Stark.

Robert’s maternal grandmother was Mary Livingston Devereux (the daughter of Maj. John Devereux, Jr., CSA, and of Margaret Lane Mordecai). John was the son of Thomas Pollock Devereux, whose father was born in Ferns, County Wexford, Ireland, and of Catherine Ann Johnson. Catherine also descended from the prominent Livingston and Schuyler families of New York. Robert’s great-grandmother Margaret was the daughter of Moses Mordecai II and Anne Willis Lane. Moses was of three quarters Ashkenazi Jewish and one quarter English descent, and came from the prominent German Jewish Mordecai family of North Carolina.

Robert’s matrilineal line can be traced to Elizabeth English, who was born, c. 1701, in Virginia.

Sources: Genealogies of Robert Lowell –

Genealogy of Robert’s paternal great-grandfather, Robert Traill Spence Lowell (through his own brother) –

Genealogy of Robert Lowell (focusing on his mother’s side) –

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