John Low

John LOW (1629 – 1676) was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Shaw line.

John Low - Coat of Arms

John Low was born about 1629 in England.  He married Elizabeth HOWLAND about 1660 in Marshfield, Plymouth, Mass.  John was killed 26 Mar 1676  at Nine Men’s Misery  a site in current day Cumberland, Rhode Island where nine colonists were tortured by the Narragansett Indian tribe during King Philip’s War. A stone memorial was constructed in 1676 which is believed to be the oldest veterans memorial in the United States.  Cumberland was originally settled as part of Rehoboth, Mass  which is listed as the location of John’s death.

9 Jun 1664  – A John Low witnessed a  deed from Chicatabutt to Pompanohoo and other Indians living on the Catuhtkut river. Thus Indians were both the grantor and grantees. Richard Bourne, the first witness, was ‘teacher of the Indians at Sandwich.’ If the John Low of the deed was actually John Low of Marshfield, it is possible that he may have been an Indian pupil of Bourne’s who adopted an English name. He may have been the John Low who, with Richard Bourne, witnessed an Indian deed.

Nine Men's Misery Memorial, Cumberland, Rhode Island

Elizabeth Howland was born ca. 1634 in England. Her parents were Arthur HOWLAND and Margaret WALKER Reed. Elizabeth died 22 Mar 1725 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, New Jersey.

Children of John and Elizabeth:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Elizabeth LOW ca. 1660
Marshfield, Mass
Walter JOYCE
1676 in Marshfield, Plymouth, Mass
12 OCT 1683
Marshfield, Mass
2. Arthur Low 1665
Marshfield, Mass
[__?__]  bef. 18 Mar 1690/91
3. Hannah Low 15 JUL 1670
4. Margaret Low ca.  1672
Jonathan Pratt
8 JAN 1691/92
Scituate, Mass.
5. Job Low ca.  SEP 1677
Mary Wormwood
17 APR 1701
Wells, Maine
After  1759
Wells, York, ME
vi.  Daniel Low (Illegitimate)  before 5 Jun 1678
 Mary Ingersoll
1 Oct 1707
Wells, Maine
11 May 1723
Marymount, Wells, Maine
Killed by Indians

John and Elizabeth (Howland) Low are listed on the Marshfield founder's monument.

John and Elizabeth’s life does not seem marked by order and respectability.  John Loe of Marshfield was fined 5s. for drunkenness on 2 Mar 1668/69 and upon his second offense 1 Mar 1669/70 the fine was doubled. On 5 Mar 1670/71 he was fined 40s. for “profaning the Sabbath by servile labor and contemptable words.”

Elizabeth must have sought affection elsewhere for on 3 Jun 1673, Joseph Rose of Marshfield “being groundly suspected for having to much familiarity with the wife of John Loe in a dishonest way.” was put to a bond of £20 to refrain from her company.

After John was killed in King Philip’s War, “Elizabeth being a single woman” had an illegitimate child before 5 Jun 1678 when she was sentenced by the court to be whipped.  The child was in all probability Daniel Low.  While Daniel’s paternity is unrecorded, Joseph Rose sentenced above to stay away from Elizabeth is a good bet.

Nine Men’s Misery

On 26 Mar 1676 during King Philip’s War, Captain Michael Pierce led approximately 60 Plymouth Colony colonial troops and 20 Wampanoag Christian Indians in pursuit of Narragansett Indians who had burned several Rhode Island towns and attacked Plymouth, Mass. as part of King Philip’s War. Pierce’s troops caught up with the Narragansett Indians but were ambushed in what is now Central Falls, Rhode Island. Pierce’s troops fought the Narragansetts for several hours, but were surrounded by a larger force of Narragansetts. The battle was one of the biggest defeats of colonial troops during King Philip’s War with nearly all killed in the battle, including Captain Pierce and the Christian Indians (“Praying Indians”) (exact numbers vary by account somewhat). The Narragansetts lost only a handful of warriors.

Nine of the colonists who were among the dead were first taken prisoner (along with a tenth man who survived). These men were purportedly tortured to death by the Narragansetts at a site in Cumberland, Rhode Island, currently on the Cumberland Monastery and Library property. The nine dead colonists were buried by English soldiers who found the corpses and buried them in 1676. The soldiers created a pile of stones to memorialize the colonists. This pile is believed to be the oldest veterans’ memorial in the United States, and a cairn of stones has continuously marked the site since 1676.

A more personal and detailed account of the massacre of Pierce’s party by the Indians gives us a flavor of the emotion felt by the English:

“Sunday the 26th of March was sadly remarkable to us for the Tidings of a very deplorable Disaster brought unto Boston about 5 a Cloak that Afternoon, by a Post from Dedham, viz., that Captain Pierce (of) Scituate, in Plimmouth Colony, having Intelligence in his Garrison at Seaconicke, that a Party of the Enemy lay near Mr. Blackstones, went forth with 63 English and twenty of the Cape Indians, (who had all along continued faithful, and joyned with them;) and upon their March, discovered rambling in an obscure woody Place, four or five Indians, who, in getting away from us, halted, as if they had been lame or wounded.

But our Men had pursued them but a little Way into the Woods, before they found them to be only Decoys to draw them into their Ambuscade: for on a Sudden, they discovered about 500 Indians, who in very good order, furiously attacqued them, being as readily received by ours.

So that the Fight began to be very fierce and dubious, and our Men had made the Enemy begin to retreat but so slowly that it scarce deserved that Name, when a fresh Company of about 400 Indians came in; so that the English and their few Indian Friends were quite surrounded, and beset on every Side.

Yet they made a brave Resistance, for about two Hours: during all that Time they did great Execution upon the Enemy, whom they kept at a Distance, and themselves in Order. For Captain Pierce cast his 63 English and 20 Indians into a Ring, and fought Back to Back, and were double-double Distance, all in a Ring, whilst the Indians were as thick as they could stand, thirty deep.

Overpowered with those numbers, the said Captain, and 55 of his English and ten of their Indian Friends were slain upon the Place; which, in such a Cause, and upon such Disadvantages, may certainly be stiled ‘The Bed of Honour.’ However, they sold their worthy Lives at a gallant Rate; it being affirmed by those few that (not without wonderful Difficulty, and many Wounds) made their Escape, that the Indians lost as many Fighting Men, (not counting Women and Children,) in this Engagement, as were killed at the Battle in the Swamp, near Narraganset, mentioned in our last Letter, which were generally computed to be above three Hundred

The “Nine Men’s Misery” site was disturbed in 1790 by medical students led by one Dr. Bowen looking for the body of one of the dead colonists, Benjamin Bucklin, who was said to be unusually large with a double row of teeth. They were stopped by outraged locals. The site was desecrated several more times until 1928 when the monks who then owned the cemetery built a cemented stone cairn above the site. The cairn and site can still be visited on the Monastery grounds.

This picture shows the Nine Men’s Misery Original Carin better

Pierce’s Fight was followed by the burning of Providence three days later, and then the capture and execution of Canonchet, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts. The war was winding down even at the time that Pierce’s party was destroyed, and in August, King Philip himself was killed.  Two of our ancestors children, John Millard, son of John MILLARD  and Benjamin Buckland, son of William BUCKLAND also died in the battle.

The site is located on the grounds of the former Trappist monastery of Our Lady of the Valley, now the Cumberland public library, and is an approximately 15 minute walk behind the main building on a rise in the woods.

Directions:  Follow the road to the right past the main building, you will come to a low white building on your left and at that point should see a break in the chain link fence that is on your right. There is a low metal guardrail in the break, step over and you should be on a walking path. Turn right and not far up the path will divid, take the left path, it will bring you through a field. In the field, it again branches out – take the left again and keep walking out of the field through the trees. From leaving the field to reaching the monument is about the same distance that you walked to get out of the field from the start. Coming down over a small rise, there is a path to the right that brings you to the elevated area that the monument occupies – you can see the monument from the rise when on the path.


1. Elizabeth LOW (See Walter JOYCE‘s page)

2. Arthur Low

1 Nov 1679 – Arthur Loe was apprenticed to John Dingley at the age of fourteen to serve until he reached 21.  Arthur was to faithfully serve his master and dame and not to absent himself from their service by day or night without their consent.  They were to provide him with meat, drink, apparell, washing and lodging fit for one of his degree and on the expiration of his term as their servant to pay him £3, ‘and incase he carry himself’ well £4.

The inventory of the estate of Arthur Low was submitted 13 Mar 1690/91 and it includes £5:2:4 for wages as a soldier to Canada.  He had a son, Arthur, but no wife indicating she may have died during child birth.

Arthur’s son is sometimes mixed up with the father.  He married 24 JAN 1716/17 in Marshfield, Plymouth, Mass. to Elizabeth Crocker (b. 5 JAN 1694/95 Marshfield)   Her parents were Jonathan Crocker and Mary Burroughs.

4. Margaret Low

Margaret’s husband Jonathan Pratt was born 20 MAR 1667/68 Plymouth, Mass. His parents were Jonathan Pratt and Abigail Atwood. Jonathan died 28 JUN 1728 Hanover, Plymouth, Mass.

5. Job Low

Job’s wife Mary Wormwood was born in 1681 York, Maine. Her parents were William Wormwood and Mary Young.

Job choose guardian Sept 1691 so he would be at least 14 at that time. He chose Benjamin Philips of Marshfield which throws his own birth back to at least September 1677.

When they moved to Maine in 1699, the brothers Job and Daniel Low were several times mentioned in that order with the inference that Job was the elder.   As there is no record of Elizabeth having a child in 1677, it is probably that Job, whatever his actual paternity, was either born before John Low’s death or posthumously and he must therefore be considered legitimate.

vi. Daniel Low (Illegitimate)

Daniel’s wife Mary Ingersoll was born about 1678 in Kittery, Maine.  Her parents were John Ingersoll and Deborah Gunnison..  After Daniel died, Mary Ingersoll and Andrew Lewis filed marriage intentions on 25 Apr 1724.

While Daniel’s paternity is unknown,  Walter Goodwin Davis says Joseph Rose is the most likely person.

On June 3, 1673, Joseph Rose of Marshfield, “being groundedly suspected to have much familiarity with the wife of John Low in a dishonest way”  He was put to a bond of £20 to refain from her company.

Elizabeth Low “singlewoman” was convicted of whoredom on 5 June 1678, on which date Elizabeth Low, widow, accused Philip Leonard of Marshfield of getting her with child. She was sentenced by the court to be whipped.

Note: assuming Elizabeth’s 1634 birth is correct, she would have been 44 years old when she became pregnant with an illegitimate child.  Quite a shock I’m sure!

Job & Daniel Low left Marshfield along with several Roses before 1699 and purchased land in York, Maine.

Daniel Low was granted land on 22 Nov 1699 in Wells, York County, Maine, but as it was not improved as to the usual conditions, it was re-granted to his brother Job Low on Mar 14, 1714.

He and his wife were in court on 1 Oct 1707 for the “usual cause.” He died on Tuesday, 11 May 1723 in Merryland, Wells, York County, Maine, at age 45 years by Indians.


From Annis Spear, 1945 by Walter Goodwin Davis
According to  “Ancestry of Annis SPEAR” by Walter Goodwin DAVIS, pp. 95-100, John died in battle.

This entry was posted in 12th Generation, Historical Monument, Immigrant - England, Line - Shaw, Pioneer, Storied, Veteran, Violent Death and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to John Low

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