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This is information that was collected from one of my ancestors, Mary Bowden, who was a mulatto Indentured Servant to George Wasingtons' family, in Westmoreland County Virginia. The Plantation where Mary served was called Popes' Creek, and is now called, George Washington Birthplace. Mary was one of my later discoveries, who surfaced in 1998, and finding her was a wonderful surprise. It is difficult to find females, especially females of color, and I was fortunate to uncover so much about her. Although my book has been out over a year, I am still putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

I know that my, ancestor, Mary Bowden, was born in 1730, in Westmoreland County Virginia, and according to the laws of the time, her mother was supposed to be a white woman. The law was aimed at the mixed raced children of white women. Mary was not indentured until the age of seven, and lived with a family named Chilton. I learned quite a bit about Mary after 1737, but not too much before. However, I still had the question of who, what, and where, and now I have the answer. I am going to try to share this information with the afrigenas list, and hope that it will encourage everyone to keep digging. The answers are out there, and if you are determined you will find them.

I found my ancestor, Mary Bowdens' mother, and her name was also Mary.

This is a copy of the information I found on my ancestors mother. The source is, WESTMORELAND COUNTY, VIRGINIA COURT ORDERS
1705-1787, Library of Virginia microfilm reel nos.55-61

1. 27 May 1730
Grand Jury vs Mary Munroe (Mulatto Woman }
Ordered that the Sheriff of this County do summon Mary a Mulato serv. woman belonging to Wm Munroe of the parish of Washington to be ? ... bastard child born of her body ... (very dark film)

2. 27 August 1730
Mary a Mulatto servant to William Monroe of Washington parish being presented by the grand jury at May Court last for having a bastard child on or about the 20th of February last past which being now Called and the Court taking the Same under Consideration they are of opinion that Mulatto women are Not within the penalty of the Law Against Bastardy, they being by the Law of the Country prohibited marriage with white men, And therefore It ordered that the presentment be Dismiss.

This Mary was a servant to William Monroe, the Grandfather of President James Monroe. I was looking for evidence of Mulatto women who had children in Westmoreland County, in 1730. This was the only Mulatto woman, who fit the time date, and proximity. Yet, I needed more evidence to soldify my claim. I was able to connect the following information to my ancestor, by the last names of Monroe, and Chilton. Mary was living in the household of Thomas Chilton when she was Indentured to the Washingtons.

The following is an abstract of Mary Watts' will:

Will: Made 3 April 1737, proved 26 April 1737. Granddaughter Elizabeth Sanford; Capt. Andrew Munroe and his wife Jane to have care of her estate until she is 18 years of age; son John Watts; son James Bowcock and his children Thomas, James, and Jane; son Richard Watts; daughters Jane Munroe, Margaret Strother, and Mary Blackburn and the latter's husband Mr. Richard Blackburn; Capt. Thomas Chilton and his wife Jemima 1 mourning ring each; Rev. Roderick McCullough a mourning ring.

This indicates that Bowcock was not her maiden name but was her first husband's name. Also by the reference to Capt. Thomas Chilton and his wife Jemima (this would be Jemima Cooke), I believe that her maiden name was Chilton, the daughter of John Chilton Jr. and sister to Thomas.

As you see from the will, she lists not only her children from both marriages, but also her Bowcock grandchildren.

This Will is connected to my ancestor, Mary Bowden, who was living in the household of Thomas Chilton, when she was Indentured. It is interested that my ancestor was indentured in 1737, when Mary Watts died. I am connecting my Bowden ancestor to Mary Watt, and believe that she was her daughter, or Granddaughter. There is another Mary in the household, Mary Blackburn, and she may have been Mary Bowdens' mother. There was a Mary who was a servant to William Monroe, and Andrew Monroe was the son of William Monroe, and the father of President James Monroe. As is mentioned in the court document, this Mary was accused of having a bastard child, in 1730.

I still have a question as to why my ancestor was taken out of the house, and indentured. Also, why her last name was changed from Bowcock to Bowden.

If anyone has any questions, please email me.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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