Jacob Gibson Bowen, Seaman

James Gibson Bowen. According to his pension application # S-34,061, James Gibson Bowen of Boston was born about 1740. His parentage and place of birth is not known. An interesting note in the Genealogies of Barbados Families (1983) by James C. Brandow mentions a Jacob Gibson Bowen who was the son of Jacob Bowen, a planter of St. Lucy who died with an unsigned draft of a will dated October 1758. Bowen’s presumably remarried widow Mary Edwards petitioned English governor of Barbados William Spry in 1770 to accept the draft will which left a house named “Goughs” to her in widowhood, which then passed to his son Jacob Gibson Bowen. The nearby French colony of St. Lucia had been recently transferred to British rule by the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War, one of fourteen times it passed hands between the French and English between 1667 and 1814. It is not known if there is any connection to the mariner, but it is easy to imagine that a young “Jaquis Bohin” might take to the sea rather than plant roots in St. Lucy under such circumstances. According to his pension application and the testimony of sailmaker Nathaniel Service of Boston, Jacob Gibson Bowen served on the frigate Alliance from “the later part” of 1781 until the close of the war as a “gunner and mariner” and participated in “a voyage to L’Orient and in cruising”. The affidavit further claims Bowen “belonged to her (the Alliance) a considerable amount of time prior to the month of December.” Despite the pensioner’s claim and the sailmaker’s corroboration, no record can be found of Bowen’s service in the Payroll of the Alliance in the Barry-Hayes Collection of the Independence Seaport Museum. Bowen notes in the pension application that his discharge was lost. Nothing is known of Jacob Gibson Bowen’s personal life after the war other than his own testimony in 1820 at the age of eighty just prior to his death, that “I have been most of my life a mariner.” His life at sea would account for the absence of census records in his name. There is a record of intention of marriage between one Jacob Bowen and Elizabeth Stanwood of Newburyport dated 8 February 1785 but it does not seem likely that this daughter of John Stanwood and Ann Atkinson was married to the Alliance seaman. There were several Jacob Bowen’s residing in relatively close proximity in the era. In the schedule of his estate included in the file, Jacob Gibson Bowen indicates that he has “none at all.” Bowen further reveals that he is “total destitute, not having even a comfortable supply of clothing…I have no family residing with me at all but am living at a very cheap board…and I have no relatives or friends in the world to which I can look for any kind of support or assistance whatever.” His pension of $8 per month was granted commencing September 1819; however, Jacob Gibson Bowen died just fifteen months later on 1 December 1820.

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