Rev. Theodore Edson, D.D. (1793 – 1883) was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard in 1818, and graduated with honors, then entered the ministry.
Rev. Edson was the assistant at St. Matthew’s Church, South Boston, when he was invited by people in Lowell to be their minister. This invitation came to him through Mr. William Appleton and Mr. Kirk Boott of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. On March 16, 1825, he was ordained at St. Anne’s on the same day the Church was consecrated.
In 1836, when the city of Lowell was incorporated, Rev. Edson became Chairman of the School Committee. From 1826, when Lowell became a town, and 1852 he served 14 terms on the School Committee. He was always the prominent advocate of public education in the City.
Kirk Boott was seriously ill, suffered a stroke and fell dead from his carriage at noon on April 11, 1837, at the Merrimack Street Station. He was 46 years old. One story says that he was very unhappy with Rev. Edson for supporting the people and children of Lowell over the interests of the mills. The story says that Boott sat up from his laying down position in that carriage for the last time in order to shake his fist towards St. Anne’s and Rev. Edson and then died.
The Sunday school at Saint Anne’s Lowell in 1840 rose to 694!
In the 1860s, Rev. Edson helped Anna Eliza Hunt form a Sunday School school in Chelmsford MA. He agreed to visit on some Sundays and lead the first Eucharist for the class and families. Rev. Edson helped Anna turn the Sunday school into an organized church community, raise funds and procure land for a permanent church building. He helped the church become formally organized under the initial name of Saint Anne’s. He joined the rotation of priests that celebrated the eucharist at Saint Anne’s until the new church could call its own rector. Saint Anne’s was renamed All Saints’ when the chapel was built.
Around 1863, Rev. Edson, at 70 years old, took his first vacation. This was nearly forced upon him by his parishioners who also gave him $1,000 dollars to travel abroad. He met the Archbishop of Canterbury on this, his only vacation.
In 1875, Rev. Edson established an orphanage in part of the present Parish House which known as the French House. In 1877, Rev. Edson’s daughter Elizabeth founded the Girls’ Friendly Society of the United States.
Rev. Edson died June 25, 1883, having served as Rector of Saint Anne’s Lowell for 59 years. He is buried in Lowell’s Edson Cemetery, which was named after him. The Edson family, in honor of Rev. Edson’s love for the church in Chelmsford, donated the funds for the All Saints’ bell tower. The All Saints’ Vestry voted the bell tower to be a memorial to Rev. Edson.