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John Cowles

Also Known As: "Cole"
Birthplace: Probably Gloucestershire, England
Death: September 15, 1675
Hadley, Hampshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Place of Burial: Hatfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Sarah Cowles and Hannah Cowles
Father of Samuel Cowles; John Cowles, II; Hannah Stanley; Elizabeth Lyman; Sara Goodwin and 2 others

Occupation: farmer, constable, surveyor, jurior, Farmer, Constable, Surveyor, Juror
Managed by: Linda Sue
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Cowles

Not the son of James Cole

  • Name: John COWLES
  • Given Name: John
  • Surname: Cowles
  • Sex: M
  • _UID: 241EDE917875654E9C87AA605CE707430BBD
  • Change Date: 1 Feb 2006
  • Note: Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Volume I Tolman (The Cowles Line).

John Cowles

  • came from England in 1635 to Massachusetts;
  • removed to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1635-39;
  • to Farmington, Connecticut, in 1640 ,
  • and thence to Hadley (now Hatfield) Massachusetts, in 1664.
  • He died in 1675.

John Cowles, immigrant ancestor, was born in England, and was among the early settlers of Hartford, Connecticut . Not long after the year 1640 he located at Farmington, Connecticut, and in 1652 was one of those who organized the church there. He was born in the west of England, it is thought, about 1598 .

He bought land on the corner at the north end of Farmington village, known afterward as the Dr. Thompson and Bodwell places. Selling this property, he bought three lots just south of the present meeting house and built a house there.

He spelled his name Cowles in order to distinguish himself from another man named Cole of the same town, and from that time to the present the descendants of his eldest son Samuel have spelled the name Cowles and those of the youngest son John have, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, favored the spelling Cowls.

He was a farmer. He was deputy to the general assembly from Farmington in 1653-54. In 1659 he was one of the signers who started the settlement at Hadley, Massachusetts, but was probably not there among the first, being a resident at Hadley in 1662. He was one of the twenty-five "engagers" in Hadley to establish themselves in Hatfield "across the river" before March, 1661.

His record in Hatfield begins January 14, 1660-61, according to the records of that place, and he died there September, 1675, and was probably buried there. He was one of a committee that laid out a burying place for the town, February 14, 1669, and there was no other cemetery there until 1848.

His widow Hannah, after his death, went to live with son-in-law, Caleb Stanley , of Hartford, where she died March 16, 1683, and she was buried there. Her will was dated October 27, 1680, and in it she states that her husband's last will was dated December 11, 1674. The homestead in Hatfield was in possession of descendants until April, 1898.


  • 1. Samuel, born 1639, mentioned below;
  • 2. John, 1641;
  • 3. Hannah, 1644, married Caleb Stanley, of Hartford ;
  • 4. Sarah, 1646, married Nathaniel Goodwin ;
  • 5. Esther, 1649, married Thomas Bull;
  • 6. Elizabeth, 1651, married Edward Lyman;
  • 7. Mary, June 24, 1654, married Nehemiah Dickinson.

Savage, James. A Genalogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, - Vol. I-IV (4). Boston, 1860-1862.

Cowles, John, Farmington 1652, rem. a. 1664, to Hatfield, d. Sept. 1677, leav. wid. Hannah, wh. d. at Hartford 1684; JOHN, of Hatfield, freem. 1690, wh. m. Deborah, d. of Robert Bartlett of Hartford; Samuel of Farmington; beside four ds. One had . Nathaniel Goodwin of Hartford; Esther, ano. d. m. Thomas Bull. This person was thot. to be br. of James Cole, and so was his own name; but the rec. vary. to Coale, Cowle, Coales, Colles, Cowles, Coule, or Coules, the descend. have gen. adopt. the we. JOHN, sen. and JOHN jr. were at Hadley 1668. ROBERT, Plymouth 1633.

John Came to MA abt 1635, Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut 1635-9, to Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut 1640 and to Hadley and Hatfield, MA 1659-6

The name Cowles may be pronounced as "Coles", and spelled that way too in some places. The name may have originally been Cole, and is spelled many ways, such as Coale, Coales, Cowls, and Cowles. Name found in England as early as 1553 and the Cole name much earlier.

1 2 3

  • Birth: 1598 in , Gloucester, England 4
  • Death: 15 SEP 1675 in Hadley, Hampshire, Massachusetts 2
  • Burial: Possibly SW side of the mill river
  • Occupation: farmer, constable, surveyor
  • Ancestral File #: 8K30-JH
  • Father: James COLE b: 1563 in , Essex, England
  • Mother: Mary b: 1564
  • Marriage 1 Hannah HART b: ABT 1613 in England
    • Married: 1632 in England 3
    • Children
      • 1. Samuel COWLES b: 1637 in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 2. John COWLES b: FEB 1641/42 in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 3. Hannah COWLES b: 2 FEB 1644/45 in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 4. Sarah COWLES b: 1646 in Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 5. Esther COWLES b: 1649 in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 6. Elizabeth COWLES b: 1651 in Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 7. Mary COWLES b: 24 JUN 1654 in Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut
      • 8. Elizabeth COWLES b: 1656 in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut


  • 1. Abbrev: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, A
    • Title: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ancestral File (R) (Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998)pyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998)pyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998).
    • Note: ABBR Ancestral File (R)
    • NAME Family History Library
    • ADDR 35 N West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 USA
  • 2. Abbrev: AF-Elizabeth H Stanley
    • Title: Susan Bayton, AF-Elizabeth H Stanley
    • Note: Date of Import: Nov 26, 2003
  • 3. Abbrev: WFT-Vol 12, Tree 940a.FTW
    • Title: WFT-Vol 12, Tree 940a.FTW
    • Note: Date of Import: Sep 28, 2004
  • 4. Abbrev: WFT-Vol 71, Tree 317.FTW
    • Title: WFT-Vol 71, Tree 317.FTW
    • Note: Date of Import: Sep 28, 2004

John Cowles (Reference # 6786) is our first known ancestor in the Cowles line.

  • He was born 1598 probably at Gloucestershire, England and
  • died 13 September 1675 at Hatfield, Hampshire Co., MA.
  • He was buried at Hatfield in the "old" cemetery on Prospect St. No original stone marks the spot but a memorial has been placed there.

He married Hannah (Reference # 6787) 1638. Her name is sometimes seen as Mehitable Hart but this appears to be incorrect.

  • She was born 1613 and
  • died 17 March 1683/4 at Hartford, Hartford Co., CT.
  • She is buried in the Ancient Burying Ground, Center (First) Church, Hartford, CT. The original stone remains and has been described as "a good early stone by George Griswold of Windsor."

Source: <>

Notes for John 'Cole' Cowles:

From the Genealogy Book by Frank Cowles 1887

There was in Hartford and then in Farmington, Conn. one John Cole, a farmer, by some thought to be a brother to James, the cooper. To distinguish himself and his family from the family of James, he varied the spelling of his name. In the Farmington records the name is spelled Collles, Colles, and finally in 1682 Cowles.

More About John 'Cole' Cowles:

  • Burial: Possibly s.w. side of the mill river
  • Fact 8: Cowles Book at History Center
  • Fact 9: See notes
  • Immigration: Abt. 1634-1635
  • Namesake: Changed from Cole to Cowles
  • Occupation: Farmer/Constable/Surveyor/jurior

John was at Farmington in 1652, and removed about 1664 to Hatfield, where he was freeman in 1666.

Event 1: 1652 in At Farmington

Event 2: 1664 in rem to Hatfield

Event 3: SEP 1677 in died

Event 4: 1668 in John Sr. & John Jr. were both at Hadley.

Event 5: 1634 in came to America from Gloucester

(f/g) John Cowles Birth: 1599, England Death: Sep., 1675 Hatfield Hampshire County Massachusetts, USA

Family links:

 Hannah Bushopp Cowles (1617 - 1683)
 Samuel Cowles (1639 - 1691)
 John Cowls (1641 - 1711)

Burial: Hill Cemetery Hatfield Hampshire County Massachusetts, USA Maintained by: Debra Originally Created by: William Currie Record added: Feb 08, 2009 Find A Grave Memorial# 33648074 -tcd

John COWLES Torrey's New England Marriages to 1700 Vital Records (incl. Bible, Cemetery, Church and SSDI) Marriage 1639. Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United States

Volume: Volume 1, Page(s): 386 COWLES, John (1598-1675) & Hannah ____ (1613-1683, 1684); by 1639; Hartford/Farmington, CT/Hatfield {Hartford Prob. 1:295; Fellows (1940) 146; Morton (1947) 24; Dickinson (1955) 263; Cole (1887) 99; Cowles 1:25; Flagg Anc. 296; Booth (1910) 120; Paine (,5



John Cowles, one tradition says, came from the west of England to Massachusetts as early as 1634/35; another that he came from the west of England and probably stopped in Hartford, Conn., but did not become a proprietor; another that he came from the north of England (Wales), and another that he came to Hartford among the first settlers between 1634 and 1639. He probably came from Gloucestershire, where the Cowles family were more numerous than in any other part of England at that time, but a limited search of the records there and elsewhere in England have failed to locate the place from whence he came or to trace his ancestry. His name appears as Coll, Colles, Cole, Coles, Coal, Coale, Coales and Coalles in the early records and for the first time as Cowles in the record of a court held at Hartford in 1659, at which he was a juror and again in two similar records and as appraiser of an estate in 1662/63. The name Cowles is an ancient one in England, antedating 1553. In 1640, a Plantation called Tunxis, situated about nine miles southwest of Hartford, and the first one in the Colony not on navigable waters, was settled by persons from Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor, Conn., who a few years before had emigrated from Watertown, Roxbury, Dorchester and Newtown, Mass., which in 1645 was incorporated as a town and called Farmington. It was sixteen miles in extent from north to south and twelve miles in width. The first homes were rude log cabins, but in 1645 or '46 a saw-mill seems to have been in operation and sawed lumber obtainable. The general character and standing of the founders of the town may be learned by considering the social and official position of the early proprietors of the soil. In a list of thirty-seven owners of house-lots, five were colonial governors, one a colonial secretary, one a colonial treasurer, and a number were commissioners, deputies, constables, deacons and men of substance. The name of John Cole [Cowles] appears in the above list, and his descendants have ever since been prominently identified with the social, religious, political and financial life and history of the town. The house-lot originally assigned to John Cowles, says Rev. William S. Porter, an early historian of the Cowles family, was on the corner at the end of Main Street, which he exchanged with Thomas Demon for the lot next south of the Meeting House, then containing five acres, where he first built his house. On account of a passway through his lot to the mountains, the town granted him a portion of the public green, and his lot ultimately included nine acres. He bought of Thomas Dement, dates not given, two other parcels of land, each containing 10 acres, and of John Wells two parcels, one of which contained 45 acres as per deed of sale dated 1650 and the other 33 acres without date. So that on January 22, 1666, his lands in Farmington aggregated 107 acres, all of which were recorded Nov. 8, 1678 as belonging to Samuel Cowles, son of John Cowles, deceased. John Cowles served one year as constable for Farmington between 1647 and 1657; was one of the seven pillars of the Congregational Church organized Oct. 13, 1652; deputy for Farmington to the General Court Six Sessions in 1653-54; appraiser of the estate of Thomas Upson of Farmington, Sept. 6, 1655. Inventory signed by mark, John Coles; appraiser of the estate of Ezekiel Banckes of Farmington, Dec. 28, 1655. Inventory signed by mark, John Coalles and testified upon oath by John Coales, 6th June before the Court then sitting in Hartford. Until recently it had been the belief that John Cowles moved direct from Farmington to Hadley, Mass., soon after the settlement of that town in 1659, but we shall see that he first went to Hartford and thence to Hadley and Hatfield. In 1655, '56 and '57, the property of the inhabitants of Hartford was assessed for taxes to build a mill for the town. John Cowles was then, and sometimes later, called John Coal, or Cole, farmer, to distinguish him from John Coal, or Cole, carpenter. The tax lists show that both were inhabitants of Hartford, South Side, in 1656-57, but only the name of John, the carpenter, appears in the list for 1655. We have seen that John Cowles was an appraiser of two estates in Farmington in 1655, and it is evident that he moved to Hartford in 1656. At a town meeting, Hartford, Feb. 15, 1659, John Coal, farmer, was chosen surveyor of highways for the South Side. At a Quarter Court, Hartford, March 1, 1659-60, John Cowles served as a juror, his name appearing as Cowles for the first time so far as found of record. In April, 1653, John Cole [Hartford], with others, signed a petition to the General Court of Massachusetts for permission to plant homes and inhabit a place called Nonotuck, which then included within its area all the territory now comprising the towns of Northamption, Southampton, Easthampton, Westhampton and a part of Hatfield and Montgomery. In the same year John Coale, of Hartford, paid thirty shillings toward the purchase of Nonotuck, but did not then settle there. Hatfield, Massachusetts, was settled at the same time as Hadley, 1659 to 1661. Together the two towns became the property of a colony from Wethersfield and Hartford, Connecticut. Differences with reference to church organization led to the removal. The faith of the fathers are thus early indicated. So conscientiously and tenaciously did they cling to what they deemed right that they were ready at any time to abandon home and lands and found new settlements, facing for this purpose, not only the hardships of the forest, but the dangers of a savage foe. These settlers were men of wealth and high social position and were regarded by Massachusetts authorities as a most desirable addition to the population. They had, as their subsequent history proved, the self reliance and earnestness and courage which usually attach to men who strike out a new path for conscience's sake. It is thought that a few families spent the winter of 1659 and 1660 in the new colony at the present site of Hadley village. The following summer, 1660, it is understood that six families located on the west side of the [Connecticut] River, now Hatfield, though the land was not divided until a year later. Among those six families, Richard Fellows is said to have been the first. The other five familes were Richard Billings [Billing--great great grandfather of Nathan Billing of Hardwich, Massachusetts], Zachariah Field, John Cole [Cowles], John White, Jr., and Nathaniel Dickinson, Jr. This was the beginning of the town of Hatfield, six families separated from their companions on the other side, grouped in the forest, the new settlement of Northampton their nearest neighbor on the south and all around the unbroken forest. This settlement remained officially in the town of Hadley until May 31, 1670, when it was incorporated as the town of Hatfield. The John Cole who signed the petition in 1653 for permission to settle in "Nonotuck" is the same as John Cole (Cowles) who settled there at Hatfield in the summer of 1660. Prior to March 25, 1661, he and twenty-one others had formally signified their desire to settle on the west side of the river in the present town of Hatfield. However, he had returned to Hartford before he received grants of land in late 1661 and June 1663 from the town of Hadley, with the warning that if he did not appear with his family his title to the land would be forfeited. John Cowles served as a member of a jury at a Particular Court held at Hartford, Dec. 30, 1662, for the trial of Nathaniel Greensmith and his wife, Rebecca, charged with witchcraft, and as a member of another jury at a Particular Court held at Hartford, January 6, 1662/63, for the trial of Mary Barnes of Farmington, Conn., and Elizabeth Seager, both charged with witchcraft. He was an appraiser, February 11, 1662/63, of the estate of Nathaniel Greensmith, who was executed at Hartford, January 25, 1662/63. The last continuance of John Cole's (Cowles') allotment of land at Hadley (Hatfield) was dated June 22, 1663. This was the second warning that he had received from Hadley to come with his family or else to forfeit his allotment of land. It is a reasonable surmise that his family were loath to settle in the wilderness at Hatfield, infested by treacherous Indians. If so their fears were fully realized by subsequent events, for Hatfield was attacked by the Indians in 1675, '76 and '77, and partly destroyed by fire, some of the inhabitants were massacred and a few others were taken as captives into Canada. However, John Cowles evidently was determined to hold on to his allotments of land and to settle on them as the crop of corn on his land in 1663 indicates. He may have left his son John in charge during his absence in order to keep his claim alive and there is no reason to doubt that he complied with the terms of the last continuance and returned with his family to Hatfield in the spring of 1664, for we find him there early in 1665. He was chosen constable for Hadley January 28, 1665. He was chosen townsman for Hadley, January 14, 1666; was made a freeman May 23, 1666, and apparently again the first month of 1669; was a member of committees in 1668 to build a church and procure the first minister; was one of the seven pillars of the first church in Hatfield, organized about 1670/71; was one of the first selectmen of that town in 1670; was a member of a committee February 14, 1669/70, "to view a piece of land for a burying place upon the Plain near Thomas Mekins his piece of land." John Cowles died at Hatfield in 1675. Following are excerpts from his last will.

Dyeing in ffaith & hope of a joyfull Resurrection to Receive my Inheritance with those yt are Santifyed by faith in Christ, ffor my temporall State I doe Order & Dispose of it as Duty Requires in manner as ffollowth my funeral Expenses being Discharged & landes in hattfeild which is a hundered & quarter Pounds alottment I give to my Loveing & dere Wife dureing her life for her maintenance while she lives After his mothers Death I give ye sayd Land a Hundered & quarter alottment unto my son John Cowles to posses & injoy for Ever It is my Will that my Son John Cowles after Posest of this Hundred and quarter alottments he shall pay Out to his Sisters as their Portiones twenty nine Pounds, to his Sister Hanah Standly five Pounds, to his sister Sarah Goodwin Eight Pounds, to his Sister Mary Dickinson Eight Pounds, to his sister Elizabeth Lyman Eight Pounds. My Son John shall Pay these Portiones within One Yeare after his Mothers Decease. I make my Loveing wife & Deare, Hanah Cowles my whole and Sole Executor to pay all my Debts & ffunerall Expenses & to make ye best improvement of all my Other Estate as she shall see meete for her Comfort while she lives, and I Doe Leave all both Corn and Cattell & all my household to her Dispose. I ffurther make my Son Sam'll feoffee of trust too see after & be helpfull to his mother in ye Ordering of her Estate left her by me. Out of ye moveable Estate I give my Son Samll in hope of his Care and tender Respect to his Mother herein; Ten Pounds within One whole Yeare after my Decease.

The witnesses were Nathll Dickenson Sen and Wm. Allice

His house lot contained eight acres and he may have possessed other lands; also his share of the undivided lands of the Town of Hatfield. After the death of John Cowles, his widow Hannah Cowles, whose maiden name is unknown, returned to Connecticut and took up her residence with her son-in-law, Captain Caleb Stanley at Hartford, where she died March 17, 1683, aged about 70 years. Excerpts from her last will follow:

I give unto my Loving sonn John Cowles six pounds; I give unto my Loving daughter Hannah Stanly Tenn pounds--I give unto my Loving daughter Ester Bull ffowre pounds; I give unto my Loving Daughter Mary Dickinson Tenn pounds; I give unto my Loving daughter Ellizabeth Lyman Twelve pounds, and if any of my sonns or daughters decease before they have reseaived those Leagasyes above mentioned then my will is that those pertiqueler sum be givne unto them, or that shall be givne unto them, shall beelong unto thayr childern after them: I give unto the chilldern of my daughter Sarah Goodwine that shall bee surviving att my desease six pounds to be eaqually devided amonst them; allso my will and pleashur is that the Leagacy of eight pounds givne unto my daughter Sarah Goodwine by my deere Husband John Cowles in his last will and testament bee payed by my sonn John Cowles unto the chilldern of my daughter Sarah Goodwine that shall be living att my desease eaqually to be devided among them and this is allso my will and pleashur conserning the rest of those Leagacys givne by my deere Husband unto any other of my daughters if itt should please god to remove them out of ye worlde by death before my desease. I give unto my grandchildern Hannah and Ellizabeth Stanly one payr of sheetes; I give unto my three daughters Ester, Mary and Ellizabeth all my waring apparrell and Linnin to be equually devided amongst them--I give unto my daughter Hannah Stanly the valley of a ffowerth partt of all my apparell and Linnin givne unto my other three daughters out of any other of my estate that shee shall choose before it be divided otherwise insteade of apparrell and do allso give her the ffeather bed that I had of my sonn Stanly at the price my husband gott itt of him as partt of the Tenn pounds givne her above; I allso desire my daughter Ellizabeth Lyman may have the ffeather bed in her keeping as part of what I givne unto her in this my last will and Tstament.

John Cowles was a farmer and doubtless had but little spare time or inclination for public office; yet as a good citizen he served in the various capacities noted in his record. After raising and educating a large family of children he left a comparatively good estate.

Genealogy of the Cowles Family in America, Calvin Duvall Cowles, self-published, New Haven, Connecticut, 1929.

I have Hannah Varian as his wife but another researcher has three wives including a Hannah Hart.

It's been 30 years since I did this research, so I don't remember why I have Hannah Varian. I couldl be convinced that it should be Hannah Hart...

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John Cowles's Timeline

Probably Gloucestershire, England
Age 42
Hartford, Colony of Connecticut, British Colonial America
February 2, 1641
Age 44
Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
February 2, 1645
Age 48
Hartford, Hartford County, Colony of Connecticut, British Colonial America
February 6, 1645
Age 48
Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut
February 8, 1645
Age 48
Farmington, (Present Hartford County), Connecticut Colony
- 1657
Age 50
Hartford, Connecticut, United States