Rev. John Bowers

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John Bowers

Birthdate: (58)
Birthplace: Dorset, England, (Present UK)
Death: June 14, 1687 (54-62)
Derby, New Haven County, Dominion of New England (Present Connecticut), (Present USA)
Place of Burial: Derby, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of George Bowers and Barbara Bowers
Husband of Mary Bowers (Lun); Rebecca Bowers and Bridget Bowers (Thompson)
Father of Sarah Metcalf; Ruth Frisbie; James Bowers; Mary Nichols; Samuel Bowers and 4 others
Brother of Ruth Knowles (Bowers); Benanuel Bowers; Matthew Bowers; Patience Bradshaw and Silence Rockwood (Bowers)
Half brother of Captain Jerathmeel Bowers

Occupation: Reverend, Clergy
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. John Bowers

Rev. John Bowers was born circa 1629.2 He was the son of George Bowers and Barbara Smith.2 Rev. John Bowers received his A.B. from Harvard University in 1649. He was a schoolmaster in Plymouth, and later in New Haven (1653-1660), where he went at the invitation of Gov. Eaton. He afterwards taught in other towns in Connecticut, and preached at Branford 1667-1672/3. From Branford he moved to Derby, where he was the first settled minister.3 Rev. John Bowers married Rebecca Gregson, daughter of Thomas Gregson and Jane (?), in 1651.1 Rev. John Bowers died on 14 June 1687 at Derby, New Haven, Connecticut.3,2

Child of Rev. John Bowers and Rebecca Gregson:

  • 1. Ruth Bowers+ b. 20 Dec 1657, d. 26 Apr 1736


  1. [S2] Customer Pedigree, World Family Tree Vol. 5, Tree #2881
     Date of Import: Dec 26, 1997.
  2. [S292] Donald Lines Jacobus, Ancient New Haven, p. 236, Bowers.
  3. [S295] Charles Thornton Libby, "Knowles Family", Vol 79, pp. 288-289, footnote, Vol. 80 , pp. 278. 


Married 1651, Duffield, D., England

  • ----------------------
  • An Excerpt from Edward Frisbie of Branford and his Descendants, by Nora G. Frisbie (Vol.1 2006 Reprint)
  • 'John Bowers replaced Abraham Pierson as minister in 1667, his salary being forty pounds a year and "a days work of every planter in town... as he shall need to employ them."
  • 'Bowers was the son of George Bowers of Cambridge in Bay Colony: he graduated from Harvard in 1649, taught school in Plymouth until early 1653, and then went as school master to New Haven. The story of the New Haven school and ist vicissitudes is a fascinating one, but it does not enter directly into the history of Edward Frisbie. Suffice it to say that sometime within the next few years Bowers married Rebecca Gregson, daughter of Thomas Gregson, one of the leading men of New Haven Colony, and in December 1657 they had a daughter Ruth Bowers, who would later become the wife of Edward's son John Frisbie.
  • -------------------

\*Genealogy of Dunwoody and Hood families: and collateral branches : their ... By Gilbert Cope

  • Pg. 146
  • George Bowers was of Scituate, Mass., in 1637, of Plymouth in 1639, and soon afterwards in Cambridge. His wife Barbarie, died 25th March, 1644, and he married Elizabeth Worthington, 15th April, 1649. Their son, Jerathmeel, was born 2d May, 1650. George, the father died 1656, and his wife, Elizabeth, married Henry Bowtell, 25 June, 1657. In his will are named wife and children, Benanuel (who had already received his portion), 'John', Patience, wife of Humphrey Bradstreet, Silence, and Jerathmeel: the wife and Jerathmeel to inherit the homestead. Matthew Bowers, who died 30 Jan., 1644-5, was probably a son of George. Mr. Bowers resided on the easterly side of North Avenue, not far from the railroad bridge. In 1656 he conveyed to his son, Benanuel, 20 acres in Charlestown, adjoining Cambridge line. Previously, however, an unhappy difficulty occurred between the father and son; for Thomas Danforth complained to the General Court, May, 1652, against George Bowers, "for rending a deed committed to his trust, with several articles between the said George Bowers and Benanuel Bowers, his son;" for which offence a fine was imposed. At the same Court, "George Bowers, of Cambridge, being complained on for putting in a vote on the election day for the Governor, acknowledged that fact, not only this year but every year since he came into these parts, (and) pleaded ignorance. It is ordered that the said George Bowers, for his offence therein, shall pay the sum of L10." he was not a sworn freeman, and therefore not a legal voter.
  • 'John Bowers, son of George, graduated at Harvard College, 1649, preached at Guilford, New Haven, Branford, Derby and Rye, in Connecticut, and died about 1697, according to the Quarterly Register, May, 1836. Savage, in Genealogical Dictionary, says he died 14 June, 1687, and that his son, John, was minister at Rye, and died at Derby, 23 Sept., 1708.


  • Full text of "Rev. John Bower, first minister at Derby, Conn., and his descendants"
  • The first clergyman of Derby was 'Rev. John Bower', who was settled there in 1672 and died in 1688. He was a graduate of Harvard College, class of 1649. He was a son of George Bower, or Bowers, found in Scituate, Mass. in 1637, in Plymouth in 1639, and who removed to Cambridge. George lived in Cambridge on the east side of North Avenue, not far from the railroad bridge. There his wife Barbara died, 25th March, 1611. He m. 2" Elizabeth Worthington, and had Jerathmeel, b. 1650. George Bowers had some trouble with his son Benamuel, for in May, 1652, he was complained of for rending a deed with several articles between them. Yet in 1656 he conveyed twenty acres in Charleston next Cambridge line to Benamuel. He voted several years but at the same court in 1652 was fined for it, not being" a sworn freeman. Both offences were complained of by Thomas Danforth, who apparently made it warm for him. He died late in 1656, his will of 8th Nov. being proved 30th Dec. of that year, and his widow married 25th June, 1657, Henry Boutell or Boutwell. He had two daughters — Patience, m. Humphrey Bradstreet, and Silence ; and by his first wife two sons, undoubtedly born in England. Benamuel of Cambridge, who suffered imprisonment, whipping and fines as a quaker, and 'Rev. John, graduated at Harvard College in 1649. John was a school master in Plymouth, perhaps (says Savage) the earliest in the business'.
  • *A copy of 'Mr. Bower's will — from the Town Records of Derby — no date to the record.
  • The last will and testiment of 'Mr. John Bower' of Derby, being very weak of body but of perfect understanding and memory, do leave these lines as my last will and testament.
  • Lnipri. My will is yt after my decease, my dearly beloved wife, Bridget Bower, shall have ye disposal of my whole estate, to dispose of it amongst our children, as she shall see cause, he desiring yt ye birthright may be remembered if he cary it well to his honored mother, as witness my hand, this eight day of Jannuary, one thousand, six hundred eiqhty four,
  • ABELL GUN. /} P Cp
  • JOB FBiSBiE. ~r^ n-n 5c ix/a n^.
  • The will no doubt was written by another, while 'Mr. Bower' was sick, and signed by him, and the bad spelling may be due to the scribe or recorder-.
  • being weak in body and giving his wife Bridget the full disposal of his estate, care of the children, &c., desiring y* ye birthright, {ie. double portion) may be remembered if he carry it well to his honored mother." He died 14th June, 1087. His widow continued to reside in Derby, where she died 19th May, 1720. Her house is mentioned in 1701, the pound being "as you go to Mrs. Bower's, her house."
  • He married at New Haven, Bridget Thompson, daughter of Anthony Thompson of New Haven. Mr. and Mrs. Bower's had at least the following children, perhaps more.
  • Ruth, bapt. 20th Dec, 1657, m. 2nd Dec, 1G74, John Frisbie of Branford, and had children — John, 23rd May, 1676; Edward, 24th Jan., 1678; Rebecca, 14th Nov., 1679 ; Hannah, 18th Jan., 1681 ; Samuel, 10th Feb.. 1683 ; Ruth, 6th Dec, 1685, d. 26th May, 1688 ; Joseph, 15th Aug., 1688. As widow and administratrix of her husband, she deeds 20th Jan., 1700, to her son Samuel, with assent of her son John. Mr. Savage says she m. 2nd, William Hoadly.
  • Mary, m. 1682, Samuel Kichols.
  • Samuel, 5th iSTov., 1665.
  • John, born at Guilford, 3rd Dec, 1667.
  • Ann, m. 2nd Sept., 1703, Francis French of Derby.
  • Nathaniel. The latter does not appear in Savage's Dictionary, but 29th Dec, 1707, Mrs. Bridget Bower deeds to "my beloved son Nathaniel Bower of Green witch, in the county of Fairfield." He removed to East New Jersey and in the grant for Derby appear the minor heirs of Nathaniel Bower in East New Jersey, deceased. He was Rev. Nathaniel, minister of the first church in Greenwich in 1700. He succeeded Mr. Wakeman at Newark, New Jersey, and was succeeded shortly after Aug., 1716, by Mr. Whittlesey in Newark. He is beyond all question the Rev. Mr. Bower of Rye — in 1696, and remaining there until 1700, when he was "settled" at Greenwich. The period of his stay at Rye was while the people of Rye "revolted" from New York to Connecticut, which revolt apparently arose in considerable degree at least, from religious feeling. In 1700 the town ordered his salary to be paid "in specie as followeth, wheat at five shillings per bushel, and all other provisions pay equivalent." His salary was fifty pounds.
CLASS OF 1649. 


Died 1687.

Rev. John Bovvers, B. A., of Derby, Connecticut, was son of George Bowers, who was of Plymouth in 1637, and removed about 1642 to Cambridge, where he died late in 1656, leaving a widow and children, his former wife, Barbara, having died 25 March, 1644.

As the graduate's name is not found on the Steward's Account-Books, the earliest of which begins with 1650, he probably did not continue his connection with the College, as graduates frequently did, after taking the first degree, but left Cambridge immediately.

"In Nov. 1652," writes Judd, "Governor Eaton, of New Haven," whose son was Bowers's classmate, "wrote to 'Mr. Bowers, schoolmaster at Plymouth,' to invite him to New Haven, or to see on what terms he would come."

At a General Court holden at Plymouth, the first of March, 1652-3, " M John Bower complained against M'^ Joane Barnes, in an action of slaunder and defama- con, to the dammage of an hundred pounds. The jury find for the plaintiffe, and assesse fiue pound dammage, and the cost of the suite. John Barnes complaineth against M"" John Bower, in an action of trespass on the case, to the dammage of an hundred and ten pounds. The jury find for the defendant the charges of Court."

Bowers "came to New Haven," says Judd, "in June, 1653, and taught their school until 1660. He taught school in other towns in that vicinity."

After the removal of John Higginson from Guilford, in 1659, Ruggles states, "There were Several persons who ministred to them in the word and Doctrine, as Teacher' as they Called them, Especialy M' Bower' who had a house and Land in the town and afterward' Remov'^ to New: Haven."

In 1667, when the Reverend Abraham Pierson with a majority of his church removed to Newark, New Jersey, Bowers succeeded him as preacher at Branford, Connecticut, where, though no church was organized, he received an invitation to settle. He continued to preach there till 1673, when he gave the town liberty "to provide a minister for themselves, which liberty they accepted." He then went to Derby, where he was or- dained the first minister, the agreement between him and the people, which is entered on the records, being dated 18 November, 1673. There he continued till his death, 14 June, 1687.

His wife, Bridget, daughter of Anthony Thompson, of New Haven, survived him.

Authorities. — Contributions to June 20. Massachusetts Historical the Ecclesiastical History of Con- Society, Collections, iv. 187. New necticut, 354, 372, 398. J. Far- Plymouth Colony Records, vii. 63. mer, Genealogical Register, 37 ; and T. Ruggles, in Historical Magazine, American Quarterly Register, viii. xv. 229. J. Savage, Genealogical 335. S. Judd, Letter, 1850, March Dictionary, i. 223; iv. 283. 25. J. L. Kingsley, Letter, 1848, 3 [Pr;nted 1871, June 17.]

The early days of the settlement called Paugassett were full of hardship. So discouraging were its prospects that, in 1659, nearly five years after the first settlement, the General Court ordered that the place "should be deserted with reference to settled habitation" within one year, unless its prospects improved.

Every town in those days was built around the "Meetinghouse," and the fitness of the settlement to become a town was measured by its "capacity to mayntayne an orthodox minister." The Court had established that at least thirty families would be necessary, and since there were fewer than ten families in the settlement here, every application for town organization the inhabitants made met with refusal for 20 years. During that time the settlers made the trek to worship in Milford, a day's journey away.

It was not until May 13, 1675, that the town of Derby was finally incorporated. There were still only twelve families in residence, but they assured the Court that there were eleven more families on the way, and that they had already secured the services of the Reverend John Bowers, who had agreed in 1671 to move to this settlement. The General Court gave as chief among the reasons why the act of incorporation was finally granted the fact that the people had engaged Rev. Bowers, and expended about "one hundred pownes" in preparing his house.

For the next eight years, the congregation met for worship either in the parsonage or in one another's homes, and it was not until 1681 that the town voted to build a Meetinghouse. This very plain building was located at Squabble Hole ( Google this for some fascinating information!) more than a mile to the northeast of the present one (in what is now Ansonia).

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Rev. John Bowers's Timeline

Dorset, England, (Present UK)
Age 21
Guilford, New Haven Colony
December 20, 1657
Age 28
Branford, New Haven, Connecticut Colony
September 29, 1663
Age 34
Medfield, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
Age 34
New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
November 5, 1665
Age 36
New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut
December 3, 1667
Age 38
Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut