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Isaac Low (April 13, 1735 – July 25, 1791) was an American merchant in New York City who served as a member of the Continental Congress and as a delegate to the New York Provincial Congress. Though originally a Patriot, he later joined the Loyalist cause in the American Revolution.

Isaac Low
Isaac Low (NYPL NYPG94-F149-419952).jpg
Member of the Continental Congress
In office
September 5, 1774 – October 26, 1774
Personal details
Born(1735-03-13)13 March 1735
Piscataway, Province of New Jersey, British America
Died25 July 1791(1791-07-25) (aged 56)
Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
Margarita Cuyler
(m. 1760; his death 1791)
ChildrenIsaac Low Jr.
ParentsCornelius Low Jr.
Johanna Gouverneur
RelativesNicholas Low (brother)
Abraham Cuyler (brother-in-law)
Cornelius Cuyler (brother-in-law)
Cornelis Cuyler (father-in-law)

Early lifeEdit

He was born on April 13, 1735 at Raritan Landing in Piscataway, Province of New Jersey.[1] He was the son of Cornelius Low Jr. and Johanna (née Gouverneur) Low and the brother of Nicholas Low.[2][3]

His father was a well-established merchant and shipper who had brought prominence to the community of Raritan Landing, who built the Cornelius Low House, an extant 1741 Georgian mansion.[4] Low's family was descended from German, Dutch and French Huguenot settlers.[2]


After serving as a tax commissioner for the New York provincial government during the French and Indian War. As a large real estate holder in the city of New York and a prominent merchant in New York City (with various firms including Lott & Low[5]) who built up sizable trade and had interests in a slitting mill,[6] he was chosen as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1763.[2] Although he accumulated a fortune that placed him in the upper ranks of colonial New York's merchant leaders, he was "nowhere near its absolute pinnacle."[7]

He was an active speaker against taxation without representation and the chairman of New York City's Committee of Correspondence in 1765. He became chairman of New York City's Committee of Sixty in 1774. Low was named one of nine delegates from New York to the First Continental Congress in 1774,[a] and to New York Provincial Congress the following year where he pursued a moderate approach towards the British.[9] In that same year, he was a founder and the first president of the New York Chamber of Commerce.[10]

American Revolutionary WarEdit

Opposed to armed conflict with the British Crown, Low quit the patriot cause after the Declaration of Independence was announced in 1776 and relocated to New Jersey, where he was imprisoned on suspicion of treason by the New Jersey Convention. He was eventually released after George Washington intervened, but after collaboration with the British occupation forces in New York, his property was confiscated after the New York assembly passed a motion of attainder in 1779. Four years later, Low emigrated to England where he died in 1791.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

Low married Margarita Cuyler (1738–1802) in 1760, a scion of the powerful Schuyler and Van Cortlandt families.[5] Both her father, Cornelis Cuyler, and brother, Abraham Cuyler, were mayors of Albany. Another brother, General Cornelius Cuyler, was a British Army officer during the French Revolutionary Wars who served as Lt. Gov. of Portsmouth and was created a Baronet of St John's Lodge. Together, Isaac and Margarita were the parents of one child:[5]

  • Isaac Low Jr., who was educated in French and became a British army commissary-general.[11][12][13]

Low died in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom on July 25, 1791. Although a family tradition holds that his wife joined him in England, probate records hold that she died in Albany in 1802.[14]


  1. ^ Low was appointed to the First Continental Congress by the Committee of Fifty-one of the City and County of New York and authorized by the counties of Albany, Duchess, and Westchester.[8]
  1. ^ "LOW, Isaac - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Ingham, John N. (1983). Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 826. ISBN 9780313213625. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Nicholas Low papers, 1773-1897". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Cornelius Low House / Middlesex County Museum". Middlesex County, New Jersey. Archived from the original on 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2008-10-16. Cornelius Low was a leading citizen of Raritan Landing, a port community on the Raritan River in central New Jersey that flourished between 1720 and 1835.
  5. ^ a b c The Illustrated American. Illustrated American Publishing Company. 1890. p. 414. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  6. ^ Harrington, Virginia Draper (1935). The New York Merchant on the Eve of the Revolution. Columbia University Press. pp. 132, 339, 349. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Low, Isaac (1735-1791), merchant, early revolutionary leader, and later prominent Loyalist | American National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  8. ^ Worthington C. Ford, Library of Congress (United States); et al., eds. (1774). Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. p. 101. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  9. ^ Wilson, James Grant (1893). The Memorial History of the City of New-York: From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892. New York History Company. p. 516. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company (1887–1889); published on the Web by (1999).
  11. ^ Jasanoff, Maya (2012). Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 385. ISBN 9781400075478. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  12. ^ (Thirteenth-Fourteenth) Annual Report of the Council: With The Lists of The Local Committees; Proceedings of Evening Meetings; The Laws; And A List of The Members. London. 1844. p. 35. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  13. ^ Werther, Richard J. (21 February 2018). "Patriots Turned Loyalist—The Experiences of Joseph Galloway and Isaac Low". Journal of the American Revolution. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  14. ^ Bielinski, Stephen. "Margarita Cuyler Low". New York State Museum. Retrieved 20 June 2018.

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