Family Tree Tuesday – Percival Lowell
Percival Lowell was an author, mathematician, and astronomer. He is known for having fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars. Lowell formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto fourteen years after his death, the name Pluto and its symbol were partly influenced by his initials “PL.” He graduated from Harvard University in 1876 with distinction in mathematics and at his graduation he gave a speech which was considered very advanced for its time, on the “Nebular Hypothesis.”
He served as a foreign secretary and counselor for a special Korean diplomatic mission to the United States. Lowell also spent time in Japan and wrote books on Japanese religion, psychology, and behavior. He moved back to the United States and using his wealth and influence, Lowell dedicated himself to the study of astronomy, founding the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Percival Lawrence Lowell was born on March 13, 1855 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Augustus Lowell and Katherine Lawrence. His siblings were Abbott Lawrence Lowell, Amy Lowell and Elizabeth Lowell Putnam. Abbott Lowell was an educator and legal scholar, he served as President of Harvard University from 1909 to 1933. His reform of undergraduate education established the system of majoring in a particular discipline that became the standard in American education. Amy Lowell was an American poet, who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. Elizabeth Lowell Putnam married her third cousin and family lawyer William Putnam, Sr. She was known for her early activism for prenatal care.
Lowell’s maternal grandfather was prominent businessman, politician, and philanthropist Abbott Lawrence. He founded the city of Lawrence in Massachusetts. He was the son of American Revolutionary War officer Samuel Lawrence. Abbott’s brother Amos was one of the founders of Groton Academy. Amos Adams Lawrence, son of Amos, founded the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and also helped found Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
John Lowell was Percival’s 2nd great-grandfather known within his family as “The Old Judge”. He was a lawyer, delegate to the Congress of the Confederation and federal judge. John Lowell’s descendants include federal judges John Lowell, James Arnold Lowell and Francis Cabot Lowell, American Civil War hero General Charles Russell Lowell, poets James Russell Lowell and Robert Lowell.
Check out Percival Lowell’s family tree and see how you maybe related!