Col. John Bowyer

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John Bowyer (Boyer)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Augusta County, Virginia, United States
Death: 1806 (76)
Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Lexington, Lexington City, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Michael Bowyer, Sr.
Husband of Mary Magdalena Bowyer
Brother of Captain Michael Bowyer; Luke Bowyer, Captain and Stephen Bowyer

Occupation: Schoolteacher
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Col. John Bowyer

Col John Bowyer

  • Birth: 1730
  • Death: 1806
  • Burial: Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Virginia, USA
  • Married: Mary Magdalena Woods, widow Borden; 2nd wife.


After the death of her second husband, Magdalena Wood-McDowell-Burden married a third time, Colonel Bowyer, a gentleman twenty years younger than herself. The 104 years to which she lived, gave ample time for a full repentance of this singular matrimonial adventure. Tradition states that Colonel Bowyer destroyed the marital settlement by which the wary Magdalena had essayed to secure her property to herself and children. He outlived her; thousands of acres of the sightly lands which John McDowell owned thus passed into the hands of Bowyers. (Source: Historic Families of Kentucky by Thomas Marhsall Green, 1889)


Next comes riding into this vast land grant a young man who is at least 20 years younger than Madelene, John Bowyer. He brings with him his life’s sole possessions: the horse beneath and the clothes above. He does have one advantage, the talent of being educated and a school teacher.

John Bowyer becomes Magdelene’s third husband. It was not a good match. Historians say, “It was not a happy marriage.” There was friction from the beginning. Many on our side said that he was a pretender to the throne, that he married Magdelene for her money. Their side said that he saved the business by bringing coherence and stability to a land business that was in a mess. He was charged with being extravagant and irresponsible in running the tract, and by manipulation gaining control of Magdelene’s property. Our side tries to regain the property, and fails. There is a vague family story that Magdelene had a prenuptial agreement with John Bowyer, but he destroyed it.

According to the custom of the time, his elevated social status would one day bring him the military rank of Captain, then Colonel.

He would outlive Magdelene, marry again, and leave a fortune to his nieces and nephews when he died. Magdelene's descendants would also receive vast fortunes.

Formula for being a successful land speculator in Colonial Virginia: 3 cents an acre x 600,000 widget acres = a lot of money! Links

Biography: Despite the fact that he eventually rose to a higher rank and station in the military (in addition to numerous other accomplishments), General John Bowyer remained steadfastly proud of his Revolutionary War service, and the simplicity of his tombstone—"Colonel Rockbridge's Co. Va. Mil. Rev. War"—reflects the pride that he took in his patriotism.

His death notice from the 23 May 1806 edition of the Political Observatory (Walpole, NH):

In Rockbridge county, (Penn.) [should be Va.] General John Bowyer, a revolutionary veteran, aged 87.—

An article from the 5 December 1806 edition of the Enquirer (Richmond, VA):

The office of Brigadier General of the 13th Brigade, has become vacant, by the death of Brigadier General John Bowyer ; and the office of Brigadier General of the 14th Brigade, has become vacant by the resignation of Brigadier General Henry Young.

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Col. John Bowyer's Timeline

Augusta County, Virginia, United States
Age 76
Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Age 76
Lexington, Lexington City, Virginia, United States