Monday, November 9, 2015

52 ANCESTORS, 52 THEMES, No.43: Nathaniel BOWMAN 1608-1682

This year's challenge by Amy Crow is another weekly blog based on Themes. The previous week's theme was "Proud."  I'm late this week - and the theme fits as I try to catch up! This week, the theme is "Oops"! Nothing/no one comes to mind... there's a few early-1st babies in our lines, and a grandmother who told lies about her husband in particular; nothing very exciting!  Instead, I've decided to write about the Massachusetts Bay Colony immigrant I was researching lately: Nathaniel BOWMAN, 1607/8 - 1681/2.  Nathaniel is my ex-husband's 8th great-grandfather on his mother's RICE lines.

Nathaniel BOWMAN's birth date and place are still under some speculation, but it is thought he was born 9 Feb 1607/8 near Leek, Stafford, England.  We do know he and his wife, Anna arrived together, on one of the ships of the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, arriving before the fall of 1630.  No children were listed with the Bowmans, although children were listed with others, so we may assume all their Bowman children were born in Watertown, Massachusetts.  The Winthrop Fleet comprised eleven ships, 4 of them used for livestock and provisions, and held a total of approximately 700 passengers. Note that a sailing trip could take as much as seventy days, crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The passages from England were not without tragedy, as evidenced by the following, taken from an online article:
Winthrop wrote to his wife just before they set sail that there were seven hundred passengers.  Six months after their arrival, Thomas Dudley wrote to Bridget Fiennes, Countess of Lincoln and mother of Lady Arbella and Charles Fiennes, that over two hundred passengers had died between their landing April 30 and the following December, 1630.  That letter traveled via the Lyon April 1, 1631 and reached England four weeks later.   
[my bolded words above]

Nathaniel likely married Anna in approximately 1629, in England.  Her surname has been listed as Barnard in several sources, but this seems unlikely to several genealogists, looking for possible Barnard ancestors.  Another surname, BERESFORD, appears much more likely, and is given as her maiden name in details of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers.  Details may be found in several places, including in the book: The Great Migration Begins [etc.] by Robert C. Anderson (pub. by NEHGS, but also available on Ancestry, and available perhaps at a library near you!).

Arriving in 1630 and settling in Watertown, MA, the BOWMANs had the following seven children, born in Watertown, of which the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th children - three girls - died before 1639:
  1. Francis [ancestor], b. 16 Dec 1630, d. 16 Dec 1687 Cambridge MA; m. 26 Jul 1661 to Martha SHERMAN (b.21 Dec 1640, Watertown MA); 10 children
  2. Mary, b. 1633, d. bef 1 Jan 1637/38, aged 5
  3. Joanna, b. bef 20 Nov 1638, d. bef 20 Nov 1638 [burial date] as infant.
  4. Dorcas, b. 31 Jan 1638/39, d. 1 week later 6 Feb 1638/9 as infant
  5. Nathaniel [jr.], b. 6 Mar 1640/41, d. 1707 Wethersfield, CT; unmarried, no children
  6. Joanna, b. 20 Nov 1642, d. after 1682; m. to an unknown Turner; one dau Hannah
  7. Dorcas, b. after 1643; m. bef 1665 to Benjamin Blackleach; 2 sons Nathaniel, Benjamin jr.
I can't begin to imagine the heartache of these parents, watching three of their children die. As you can see, there would have been 10 years between the eldest, Francis, and the next living child, Nathaniel Jr.  So sad.

Nathaniel applied to be admitted as a Freeman to Watertown, on 19 Oct 1630; however, there is no record of him being on the list of approved Freemen. He was listed on the earliest list of proprietors of Watertown, MA. 

By 1651, Nathaniel and his family had removed from Watertown to Cambridge (actually on the edge of Watertown), 

Nathaniel's wife, Anna, seems to have died in 1679 - no date is found in the records, however.  He wrote his will on 21 Oct 1679, and I might assume he wrote it when she was either sick or dying.  He died 26 Jan 1681/82 in Cambridge, and his will was proved on 4 Apr 1682.  

Here is an abstracted copy of  his will, which, as usual, confirms children's names, married names for the women, several grandchildren's names, and inventories his goods at time of death.  Apparently he had already given away much of his land and goods before he died.

Will of "Nathaniel Bowman, of Camb., gentleman," dated Oct. 21, 1679, proved Ap. 4, 1682, gives to son Francis the "farm in Camb., where I now dwell, which farm I purchased of Edward Goffe [Gosse]," &c., with dwelling-house, &c.; said Francis to pay the other legacies, viz.: to son Nathaniel £25, "to be paid four years after my death;" if he die without lawful issue, to revert to the children of Francis. To Dorcas March, and her heirs, £50; to g.children, Nathaniel and Benjamin Blackleach, £25 each, to be paid when 21 years old;  to gr.daughter, Hannah Turner, £15 at 18 yrs. old, or at marriage, which, with what her parents had had, would make a full share.  In each case, on fialure of heirs, the legacies to revert to the children of son Francis, who was sole executor.  The following inventory indicates that he had no wife, and that he had previously disposed of nearly all his personal property, viz.:  house and 10 A. land, £120,7;  20 A. meadow, £60;  70A upland, unfenced, £70;  mare and cow, £3,1;  bedstead, bed, bolster, and old green rugg, £3;  table and chairs, £1;  cross-cut saw and 4 wedges, £0,10.  

His eldest son, Francis, was the sole executor of his father's remaining estates. I'm not sure why Nathaniel the father decided to have his 2nd son, Nathaniel, not be paid for four years. Nathaniel Jr. was likely already living in Wethersfield CT at this time. 
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If you know anything about the immigrant Nathaniel BOWMAN and his family, I would be so pleased for more details. Contact me at my address at the bottom of the page, or in the Comments section.

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Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis