By all the accounts I have researched, the name Bowen originated in
some say, more specifically, in Pembrokeshire. Whatever the case may be, the
name originates through the Welsh patronymic system. This is a fairly complex
system that can become lengthy and cumbersome. The Welsh used the prefix ‘ab’
or ‘ap’ to designate ‘son of’ + the father’s given name. A name such as Gwilym
ab Gruffyd ab Madog would be son, father and grandfather. This would translate
into William son of Griffith
son of Maddock or a variety of spellings meaning about the same thing. In the
case of Bowen, Owain (Owein, Owen and other spellings) was a popular Welsh
name. To be the son of Owain would be to have a name such as Rhys ab Owain.
Eventually the long string of paternal names was discontinued and ‘ab Owain’
became standard, evolving into ‘Bowain’ or Bowen. Just for kicks and giggles, a
few other names that came into being this way were Price (ap Rhys), Pritchard
(ap Richard), Perry (ap Harry), Powell (ap Hywel), and Pye (ap Hugh).
It is believed the earliest known ancestor of the Bowens was a man named Gwylym ab Oowen who was born c. 1412. There are some researchers who believe they can take the Bowen line back to the first century, but I don’t advocate this school of thought. Over the course of years, I have been able to ascertain, through some published research of Medieval experts, that not much can be verified before the year 1000 CE. If it is a Royal line, there is a chance for documentation, but the common folk were basically illiterate and didn’t keep records of names. If anything, it was the number of people serving a Lord of the manor and how many people in his household. If records were kept, many, most perhaps, have been lost to time, dampness, fire and basic deterioration.
Before I go on, I might add that there are still several schools of thought on the ancestry of Richard Bowen of Rehoboth MA. This one is, or seems to be, the most commonly accepted for accuracy. So we will begin with Gwylym ab Owen and what is known about him.
(1) Gwylym was b. c. 1412 in
Wales. He married Agnes verch Hywel
and they had a child named Owen, b. c 1453. (2) Owen married Janet Llewelyn and
had at least three children: James, b. 1480, Thomas and Elizabeth. (3) James was
appointed Commissioner of Revenue by King Henry VIII and became Sir James who m.
Mary Hale. They had at least one child Mathias, b. 1524. (4) Mathias m. Mary
Phillips and they had a son, James, b. c. 1550. (5) James m. Eleanor Griffith (they
were 1st cousins 1x removed) and their son Richard was b. c. 1590.
An ascendency to King Edward III, through his son John of Gaunt, has been displayed on some websites. I have double checked random entries and have found there to be a reasonable assurance and confidence that this is a reliable ancestry of Richard Bowen, the immigrant. However I have a dozen or more sources to check before I will claim its accuracy. For those who might like to attempt further research on your own, the following is the descent being researched by a number of people:
Edward III Plantagenet m. Philippa of Hainault
John of Gaunt m. Katherine Roet (Swynford)
Henry Beaufort m. Alice FitzAlan
Jane Beaufort m. Edward Stradling
Henry Stradling m.
verch William Herbert
Thomas Stradling m. Janet Mathew
Jane Stradling m. William Griffith
Elizabeth Griffith m. John Phillips
Mary Phillips m. Mathias Bowen
James Bowen m. Eleanor Griffith
Richard Bowen m. Anne Bourne
(6) Richard is my 9x gt. grandfather. He was b. in Ilston, Glamorganshire,
He m. c. 1615, Anne Bourne, at Kettle Hill, Glamorganshire, Wales. She was b. c. 1592 in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. Richard and his family
emigrated to America
about 1640. He and Anne had at least 7 children, all of whom were born in Wales.
Their children were:
Sarah (1616-1676) m. c. 1639 Robert Fuller
Richard (1623-?) m. Esther Sutton
Thomas (1625-1663) m. Elizabeth Nichols
*Obadiah (1627-1710) m. 1651 Mary
Ruth (1634-1688) m. George Kendrick
(7) Obadiah and Mary Clfiton m. 1651 in Rehoboth MA and had 11 children. Their names were:
*Obadiah (1651-1699) m. 1677 Abigail Bullock
Mary (1653-1678) m. 1673 Isaac Allen
Sarah (1654-1710) m. 1673 John Savage
Samuel (1659-1728) m.1684 Elizabeth Wood (went to
) Cohanzey NJ
Joseph (1662-1727) m. 1683
Thomas (1664-1743) m. 1689 Thankful Mason
Hannah (1665-1715) m. 1685 Timothy Brooks (went to
) Salem NJ
Isaac (1674-aft. 1710) m. 1698 Hanna
Hezekiah (1676-aft. 1710)
(8) Obadiah and Abigail Bullock had at least 10 children. They eventually left Rehoboth and moved to
Swansea where all of their children were
born. Obadiah was called Jr. in Swansea
records. At one time Swansea
(Swanzey) was a part of Rehoboth before being made a village in its own right.
Their children were:
*James (1680-1738) m. 1703
Hezekiah (1682-1751) m. 1706 Elizabeth Randall
Mary (1684-?) m. 1710 John Bush
Abigail (1688-aft. 1722) m. Benjamin Fiske
Daniel (1689-1737) m. 1716 Priscilla Vinton
Aaron (1691-1774) m. 1717 Experience Whitaker
Sarah (1693-?) m. Martyn Luther
Nathan (1698-1776) m. Sarah Ashley
(9) James and Elizabeth Garnzey (d/o John Garnzey and Elizabeth)
(c. 1705-1755) m. 1725 Jonathan Cole
Obadiah (1706-?) m. 1731 Barbara Martin
Tabitha (1710-?) m. c. 1731 Daniel
Mary (1713-?) m. 1733 Thomas Wilbur
Originally, I had the parents of Elizabeth Garnzey as John Garnzey and his wife Elizabeth Titus. This Elizabeth Titus was supposedly the daughter of John Titus and Abigail Carpenter. Titus family researchers have discredited this line and state that throughout all the records that have been researched John and Abigail had no daughter named
They stated the confusion probably occurred because a John Garnzey did marry an
Elizabeth Titus, but in a totally different generation. Thus, I have removed
the surname of the Elizabeth
who was the mother of Elizabeth Garnzey and who married John Garnzey.
The family of Elizabeth Bowen and Jonathan Cole can be found in an earlier blog “Cole Family Goes to
dated Dec. 18, 2012.
As always, I hope you enjoy the information on the Bowens. Any addition, corrections or suggestions are gratefully accepted and appreciated.