By Trip Wiggins
Rev. Samuel Low, Sr.
Born: abt. 1765 – Died: probably between 1811 and 1821
Tenth St. George’s Rector
At St George’s: July 15, 1808 – April 1810
From the time Rev. Waugh left the parish, St. George’s went through two years without a minister. We were still new at this Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States and, obviously, no longer tied to the state – things were tough all over.
By July, 1808, it looked like we were getting back on track with the arrival of Samuel Low, Sr. He came here from New York and was articulate, knowledgeable, compassionate, and a great preacher. He even found time to write three small books of poetry, some of which are still available through Amazon.com! He had been described as a man of gigantic stature, stentorian lungs, forbidding countenance, and great oratorical powers. He only had two small problems – he was not a priest yet and it seems before he took up the cloth, he divorced his first wife and took another. We’ll not exactly. Seems he was separated from his first and didn’t get the final divorce until AFTER he married his second wife. That didn’t go too well in Fredericksburg when the vestry heard about it in the spring of 1809.
With the divorce final, the vestry opted to keep him as our minister for the time being – but he still didn’t have his priestly orders. His tenure was short. A year later, in the spring of 1810, they released him – but gave him a favorable recommendation. Although he moved to King George County in April, 1810, he continued to officiate in St. George’s Parish tri-weekly for a year when he left the area. When the vestry accepted his resignation they characterized Low as a cleric of “great capability and worth” whose sermons had always been “orthodox, Scriptural, rational, and edifying.” They also recommended him to Bishop Madison for priest’s orders.
After that, the trail goes cold. There was a Samuel Low in Wicomico Parish in 1812 and at Christ Church in Norfolk later in the decade. There are obits for three Rev. Samuel Lows in Virginia between 1814 and 1821. Truth is, we’ll probably never know much more about him.
Quenzel, Carrol. The History and Background of St George’s Episcopal Church Fredericksburg, Virginia (1951)
Slaughter, Rev. Philip. A History of St George’s Parish (1847)
St. George’s Vestry Minutes
Find a Grave.com
Library of Virginia (obits on the three Rev. Samuel Lows)