Select Bowen Miscellany


Here are some Bowen stories and accounts over the years:


The Foremost Bowen Family

Major Arthur Bowen of St. Catherine in Canada wrote the following letter in 1859 explaining his Bowen family.

“The Bowens in South Wales are numerous, particularly in Pembrokeshire.  I am a direct descendant of the pioneers of
Pentre Evan ap Owen.  My ancestor was the second High Sheriff of the county.  These high sheriffs were first appointed in the reign of Henry VII and since that time their names will be found in every reign filling that office.  Bowen of Llwyngwair of the house of Pentre Evan was the last. 
There were many generals and admirals in the family in by-gone days and in modern times.  One of my first cousins was Admiral Charles Bowen, and another, Captain John Bowen. One of my brothers was in the Battle of Trafalgar.  Another was at the desperate Battle of Java, where he later died on the staff of Sir Rolla Gillespie.   Another brother was in the East Indian service, wounded in action and died.  I am a retired major of the British service in the West  Indies, East Indies and in Spain.”

The Bowen Knot

The Bowen knot is not a true knot, but rather a heraldic knot , sometimes used in heraldic designs. It was named after James Bowen of Llwyngwair who died in 1629.  The knot consists of a rope in the form of a continuous loop laid out as an upright square shape with loops at each of the four corners. Since the rope is not
actually knotted, it would in topological terms be considered an unknot.

An angular Bowen knot is such a knot with no rounded sides.  A lozenge-shaped Bowen knot is called a bendwise Bowen knot or a Bowen cross.


Bowen’s Court

The Bowens had been in Cork since 1660 when Henry Bowen, originally from Wales and an army officer with Cromwell, settled there.  His descendant Henry Cole Bowen built his country house, Bowen’s Court, near Kilderrory in the county in the 1770’s.  It was a focus of attack during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.   However, Bowen’s Court remained with the Bowen family until 1959.

These Bowens were considerable landowners during the 19th century.  In the 1870’s they owned 1,680 acres in county Cork and over 5,000 acres in county Tipperary.  The last owner was the novelist Elizabeth Bowen.  She wrote a history of the house, entitled Bowen’s Court, in 1942 and it featured in her 1929 novel The Last September.  But she had a nervous breakdown in the 1950’s and abandoned Bowen’s Court, leaving unpaid wages and bills.  She sold the house in 1959 and two years later it was demolished.  The farmer who bought it was only interested in the land and the timber.


Reader Feedback – Clifton Bowen from Massachusetts to Georgia

I have read numerous articles, following and tracing my direct Bowen line.  I am of the Clifton Bowen branch, son of the Rev. Samuel and descended from Richard.  Not much has been recorded about them.  Why?  Clifton migrated from Rehoboth, Swansea or another part of the Massachusetts colony to North Carolina and eventually came to Georgia in 1736. It’s almost as if Clifton was somehow ostracized.

Patrick Bowen (


Bowen or Bohan?

There were two Bowen girls on the famine relief ship Pemberton from Ireland that arrived in Australia in 1849.  Both were sixteen.  If they were related, they would have been cousins.  One was spelt Bohan, the other Bowen. Mary A. Bohan was a nursemaid from Rosscrea in Tipperary; while Mary Ann Bowen was a child’s maid from Queens (Offaly).  Both were Catholics and both could read and write.


Maiden Spring Farm in Virginia

Maiden Spring Farm is located in Bowen’s Cove, a valley in a rugged part of Tazewell county in mountainous SW Virginia.

The north wing of the house is said by family tradition to have been an earlier log house built in the  1770’s to which the main section was added when it was built in 1838.  However, little about the woodwork or other details in the wing would seem to confirm this idea.

The first Rees Bowen who lived there was the son of John and Lilly McIlheny Bowen who had moved from Pennsylvania to the present-day Rockbridge county area.  John Bowen’s parents were Welsh Quaker immigrants.  This Rees Bowen was named after his paternal
grandmother Rebecca Rees.  He is said to have settled at Maiden Spring with his wife and one slave woman on a grant of 880 acres obtained in the 1760’s. 

Bowens of this line fought in the American Revolutionary War (when Rees Bowen was killed at the Battle of Kings’s Mountain), in the War of 1812, and in the Civil War.  During the Civil War Confederate Army troops camped on Maiden Spring Farm.


Elisha and Penelope Bowen in Georgia

According to family accounts, Elisha and Penelope Bowen were moving with several other families from North Carolina around the year 1805 to settle a newly opened-up area south of Candler county in Georgia.

Their journey, however, was interrupted when their first born and only child, Robert Bowen, died en-route from typhoid fever, it is believed, at Ten Mile Creek.  They buried their son there.  The journey for them then stopped.  The death of their young son, they believed, was a sign from the Lord that they should go no further. So there they made their home.  They acquired and cleared land for planting crops and food for their immediate needs and began farming crops for marketing.

During the next twenty one years, from 1805 until 1826 when Elisha Bowen died, he and his wife became parents of seven more children that lived to adulthood and all married and had children.


Bowens in Barbados and South Carolina

There was an early connection between Barbados and South Carolina as many Barbadian planters were among the original settlers of Charleston, including John Drayton who established his new plantation at Drayton Hall 15 miles outside of the town in the 1730’s.

Bowen is a fairly common name in Barbados.  Only one male Bowen descended from the original Welsh stock remains in the island today.  But many African slaves on the island adopted the Bowen name after emancipation in 1834.  Some of them were transported from Barbados to the Drayton plantation in South Carolina.

Richmond Bowens, born in 1908 and a descendant of these slaves, grew up at Drayton Hall.   The Bowens family, he said, was the one
black family to remain at Drayton Hall after emancipation. In his later years Richmond became a gatekeeper and oral historian at Drayton Hall.

In 1996, a year before he died, he traveled to Barbados and received a celebrity’s welcome.  He met the Prime Minister, the U.S.
ambassador, and two brothers who lived near the Bowen’s ancestral home in Barbados.   Because the younger men resembled him, Richmond Bowens believed that they were related and that he was reunited with his family.


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