A Bridge To The Past:Information about John M. Bowlby Sr.
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John M. Bowlby Sr. (b. Bef. December 19, 1703, d. 1782)John M. Bowlby Sr. (son of Thomas Bowlby and Martha Barker)69 was born Bef. December 19, 1703 in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, England., and died 1782 in Mansfield Woodhouse Township Sussex County, NJ.He married Mary Mercer on 1734 in Burlington, New Jersy.
Notes for John M. Bowlby Sr.:
"In the name of God Amen: I, John Bowlby Senior of the County of
Sussex and Township of Mansfield Woodhouse and State of New Jersey
being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, thanks be to God
therefore I do make, ordain, publish, and put in writing this my last
will and testament in the following manner.
And first of all I recommend my soul to God who gave it and my body to
the earth to be buried in a christianlike and decent manner at the
discretion of my executors herein after named and as for such worldly
goods as it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I give and
bequeath in the following manner.
And first I will that all my just debts and funeral charges be paid
Also I give and bequeath onto my beloved wife Mary Bowlby all and
singular my personal estate during her natural life and it is my will
that mys aid wife shall dispose of such part of my personal estate as
she shall not want to home.
She will and I also will and order that six acres of land adjoining
Samuel Johnston Mils be divided into 12 equal parts to be divided
amongst my granddaughters by lot.
My son Samuel's daughter Mary Bowlby half an acre also his daughter
Hannah Bowlby half an acre also his daughter Sarah Bowlby half an acre
and also his daughter Ann Bowlby half an acre also I order that my son
John Bowlby's daughter Mary Bowlby half an acre and I also order that
my son Thomas Bowlby's daughter Olive Bowlby half an acre;
I also will and order that my daughter Hanah Palmer's son Philip
Palmer half an acre and I also order her daughter Mary Daley half an
acre and also her daughter Sarah Palmer half an acre and also her
daughter Ruhannah Palmer half and acre and I also order that my
daughter Sarah Coleman's Mary Coleman half an acre and also my
daughter Hannah Palmer's daughter Hannah Palmer half an acre.
I also will and order that all the remainder part of my land and
property rights undisposed of here to for, I order to be divided into
three equal parts and I give and bequeath onto my beloved son Samuel
Bowlby one equal third part of said lands and rights.
And I also order bequeath to my beloved son Thomas Bowlby one equal
third of said lands and rights and I also will and order that the
other third part be equally divided between my two grandsons John and
James Bowlby Suns of my beloved Sun John Bowlby and I also give and
bequeath onto my nephew Edward Bowlby son of my brother Jordan Bowlby
the sum of five shillings;
Also I constitute my beloved wife Mary Bowlby my Executrix and I also
constitute and appoint my trusty and well beloved friend Joseph Laning
my Executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking and
annulling all wills by me heretofor made ratify and confirming this
and no other to be my last will and Testament hereof I have set my
hand and seal this 7th day of December in the Year of Our Lord 1779."
(Signed) John Bowlby
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered,
By the Hand of John Bowlby,
In the Presence of us.
Altiye? Laning He died between 7 Dec 1779 and 31 Dec 1782 in Imlaydale, Mansfield, Woodhouse Twp., Sussex Co., NJ.(323)
From BOWLBY FAMILIES:
He came with his father to Burlington, New Jersey, in 1727. In 1731,
he became coexecutor of his father's will, and responsible to heirs in
England and New Jersey. John probably married his wife Mary _______
before 1735, the estimated birth of his eldest son, Samuel. In 1737,
the family moved to the junction of two large tracts of land surveyed
to John's maternal grandfather, Samuel Barker, in 1680. The place
became known as Imlaydale, which is still inhabited and lies across
the Musconectcong from New Hampton, New Jersey.
In Traditions of Hunterdon, pg. 85 THE BOWLBYS OF HAMPTON (copied by
Florence Bowlby, transcribed by Cynthia Katzman Bowlby)
The land from Asburry to Hampton Junction and extending over the
Musconetonz into Warren County, a tract of 5,088 acres was purchased
by John Bowlby from the first proprietors about the year 1740. John
Bowlby came from England and selected this spot as favorable for a
His house stood near where Peter Cramer now lives. It was once
considered as the grandest house in the settlement. It consisted of
logs hewn on two sides and notched at the ends; was 1 1/2 stories
high and had two large rooms below stairs, while the other houses had
only one. It was the first house built here.
John Bowlby was quite young when he came to this country. His 2
brothers, Thomas and Richard, and their sisters came with them. Joseph
Bowlby, now 83 years old, living at New Hampton, can remember when
there was nothing but log houses in the whole valley.
When John Bowlby was running the boundaries of his land, Col. Daniel
Coxe was also laying out a tract to the east of him. There seems to
have been some strife between them as to who should get his survey
extended on record first, and at the same time, get as much of the
creek as possible.
Coxe became alarmed, mounted his horse and rode towards Burlington as
fast as he could, while Bowlby ran his lines so far as to take up the
whole stream, keeping Coxe out of every foot of it. He then mounted a
horse and followed Coxe, who rode one horse to death, and borrowed
another, and thus reached Burlington first. But Bowlby, "kept him out
of the creek" and that was all he desired, for he now had the mill
site, and the most valuable portion of the land. Before the mill was
built, Bowlby went to Pittstown to mill, a distance of 10 miles,
through the wilderness, following an Indian path. Sometimes he had to
wait his turn, and would not get back for 2-3 days.
You can find out more about Col. Coxe and the early Jersey settlement
p. 86 THE BOWLBY LAND DEALS.
John Bowlby had 3 sons, Samuel who lived at the homestead, and owned
the mill; John who took a part of the land that lay in Warren County,
and Thomas or "Esq Tom" as he was called, by virtue of his office, who
lived on the side of the stream, where Jacob Skinner now lives.
From TRADITIONS OF HUNTERDON as copied by Florence Bowlby and entered
by Cynthia Katzman Bowlby
John Bowlby sold many hundreds of acres for 2s, 6d per acre, because
he did not want to pay tax on it. Parties now living tell about the
time they could have bought land from Bowlby for 50 cents an acre.
He was married to Mary before 1735.(324) Mary(3) (24)(5) (6)(7) died about 1799. (325)
The maiden name of John's wife Mary remains completely uncertain. To
date, our efforts to uncover primary source information regarding her
maiden name have led us only to historical researchers speculations.
What we have seen are "best guesses" but nothing definitive, and
backed by virtually no primary source material.
Unfortunately, it seems that some of the speculative suggestions have
sort of "turned into fact" as the details
The one researcher who has left us his "case" for suggesting Mary
LANING, is Raymond Edwin Bowlby. He wrote:
John (7) married before 1735, the estimated birth of his eldest son.
John's will states that his wife's name was Mary, but family
historians disagree upon her maiden name. Some believed her name was
Mary Laning, while others believed she was Mary, the daughter of
Josiah Mercer of Burlington of whose will Thomas Bowlby (6), John's
father, became executor in 1727. After carefully studying John's
will, Harriet Stryker-Rodda, a leading expert on early New Jersey
genealogical history today, wrote her opinion in a letter of 10 Nov.
1981, that the wife of John was Mary Laning: 'That will proves without
a doubt his relationship and family name of his wife Mary, for the
executors were wife Mary and friend Joseph Laning, witnesses Edward
Laning, Isaac Laning and Altiye Laning. A wife's interests in an
estate in such a rural area as Mansfield-Woodhouse were normally
protected by having her relatives party to its settlement if any were
But, many other well respected historical researchers have also left
us their opinions.
Perhaps a source of suggesting Mercer as Mary's maiden name may have
come from DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE COLONIAL HISTORY OF THE STATE OF
NEW JERSEY, VOLUME XXIII. CALENDAR OF NEW JERSEY WILLS, VOL. I.
1670-1730 page 316
1727 Aug. 26. Mercer, Josiah, late of Edmington, Co. of Middlesex,
Great Britain, now of Burlington, gentleman; will of. Wife Sarah.
Daughter Mary. Real and personal estate. Executor - Thomas Bowlby,
Witnesses - Tho: Barnes, Will'm Robinson, Daniel Mestayer. Proved
September 5, 1727.
1727 Sept. 5. Inventory of the personal estate, L60.5, incl. 18
moydores, 2 half moydores, 1/2 guinea, 2 small gold rings, in all 139
pwt. and 18 gr. at 5sh. 6 per pwt. L38.8.7 1/2, money in copper
pennies L4, a silver watch and steel seal and chain L5, a silver
tobacco box and pipe stopper L1.5; made by Thos. Hunloke and Tho.
______ _____, Mercer, 1 _______. Part of will of , mentions a will
executed in Great Britain and left in the Custody of wife Sarah.
Leaves real property in America to the wife and daughter Mary and
appoints Thomas Bowlby as executor; used as wrapper of another
(Eddington, 1727) will.
1. Doubtless the Josiah Mercer whose will is given in the next
From: THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST VOL. XXXIV (1958). Article written by
Lewis D. Cook. F.A.S.G., of Philadelphia: BOWLBY OF
MANSFIELD-WOODHOUSE, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND OF BURLINGTON, MORRIS,
HUNTERDON, AND SUSSEX COUNTIES N.J.: OF PHILADELPHIA, PENNA., AND
"iv. John Bowlby, executor of father's Will in 1731; is said to have
m. one Mary Lanning, dau. of some Joseph Lanning, in 1734, but
evidence is not found. The Joseph Lanning named a co-executor in the
Will of John Bowlby was probably the testator of Bethlehem Twp.,
Hunterdon Co., N.J., 1814, q.v. in NJ Archives, 42:248. John Bowlby
d. testate in Mansfield Twp., Sussex Co., Nj, between 7 Dec 1779 and
31 Dec. 1782, appointing he wife Mary Bowlby and friend Joseph Laning
executors, and devising his estate to his children..."
He further mentions that the baptisms of some of their children, by
the Church of England minister in Sussex Co., N.J. are found in his
register, published in the Penna. Magazine of Hist. and Biog., vol.
But, on 23 Nov 1972, William M. Leffingwell sent a draft of his
article BOWLBY to Janis Pahnke, (and she kindly has sent a copy to
me...) From pg 3.
3. John, b. m Mary (Mercer ?)
As executor of his father's will, John Bowlby was responsible for the
family's right to land in West Jersey. He probably returned to
England after his father's death, where he may have married Mary
Mercer. He was back in the Province by 1735, when his first son,
Samuel, was born."
We remain hopeful that we might yet uncover more definitive evidence
by exploring both the Laning and Mercer genealogies. Other theories
abound, such as Mary was first married to a Mercer or a Laning prior
to her marriage to John, or that he was married to two different women
by the name of Mary - first to a Mary Mercer, then to a Mary Laning.
But, to date, none of these speculative theories are based upon any
direct evidence that our Mary Bowlby was related to either the Mercer
or Lanning families.
More About John M. Bowlby Sr.:
Christening: December 19, 1703, Parish of Barlborough, County Derby, England.
Will: December 07, 1779
More About John M. Bowlby Sr. and Mary Mercer:
Marriage: 1734, Burlington, New Jersy.
Children of John M. Bowlby Sr. and Mary Mercer are:
- Samuel Bowlby, b. Abt. 1735, Burlington, New Jersy, d. 1823, Imlaydale, Sussex Co., New Jersy.
- John Bowlby Jr., b. Bet. 1735 - 1744, Imlaydale, Sussex Co., New Jersy, d. date unknown.
- +Hannah Martha Bowlby, b. Abt. 1736, Mansfield Woodhouse, Sussex County New Jersy, d. Aft. 1810, Rowan County, North Carolina.
- Sarah Bowlby, b. Abt. 1738, Imlaydale, Sussex Co., New Jersy, d. date unknown.
- Thomas Bowlby, b. April 02, 1744, Hunterdon County, New Jersy, d. January 08, 1827.