Who is Alexander Bow?

Alexander is a bit of an enigma; his birth date, location, and parents are unknown.  We also don’t know what age he lived to. Here is what we know:

The first appearance of Alexander in New England occurs on 01 Mar 1657/8 when he is granted 4 acres of woods and 1 acre of commons in Charlestown, Massachusetts.1

Charlestown land record 1657

Other recently freed Scotsmen received the same type and amount of land on the very same day: Hercules Corser, James Grant, John Hamblton [sic], and Edward Wyer.2

Where is Alexander prior to 01 March 1657/8?

Hypothesis #1:  Between November 11th and late December 1650, Alexander is  transported aboard the ship Unity as one of Cromwell’s prisoners of war (following the Battle of Dunbar and subsequent Death March to Durham) from Scotland via England to Charlestown, near Boston, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.3

Hypothesis #2:  Alexander is an indentured servant to someone in Charlestown.

On 16 Nov 1658 “Alex Bow” is enumerated in Charlestown tax records as owning land adjacent to former Scottish prisoner of war Hercules Corser.4   This lends some credence to hypothesis #1 above.

On 24 Oct 1660 Alexander is admitted as an inhabitant of Middletown, Connecticut.5 On February 18th of the following year “the towne gave to Alaxander bow two acors of swamp before the indian fort hill next to thomas hopewells land for on acer of medow.”6

1660 inhabitant.png

Between 1657/8 and 1665 Alexander marries Sarah (maiden name unknown) and has 3 children: Samuel, Sarah, and Mary.

In the spring of 1665 both Sarah and their infant daughter Mary die.7

Alexander is recorded as an inhabitant of Middletown in 1670 with an estate valued at 45£ and in 1673 at 42£.8, 9

In 1671, Middletown distributed its’ land grants in the popular “outliver” style.  Alexander’s new long (about 2 miles!) and narrow Middlefield District lot runs due south of today’s Cedar Street in Rockfall, CT (at the jog in the road just west of Peters Lane).10

1671 land grant

On 30 Oct 1673 Alexander has a prenuptial agreement drawn up for Rebeckah Hughes in consideration of his “age and her youth” upon which Alexander made his mark (the letter A).11


Alexander and Rebeckah have 2 children, Anna and Mary, before Alexander dies on 06 Nov 1678 at an unknown age.12  Their third child, Rebeckah, is born five months later.13

Alexander’s imperfect will is dated 09 May 1675.14

Bow, Alexander will 1675

An estate inventory taken on 12 Nov 1678 by Thomas Whetmore, William Harris, and Robert Warner is valued at 144£ 19s 09p (later adjusted to 152£ 9s 11p).15 From the inventory contents it appears Alexander is a farmer owning just under 300 acres of land.

Bow, Alexander Inventory p1Bow, Alexander Inventory p2

At some point he had a proportion of the Middletown fence.16 I have not yet been able to see the document to search for additional details.

1. Henry H. Edes, ed., A Report of the Record Commissioners Containing Charlestown Land Records, 1638 – 1802, (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1883), 81.
2. Ibid.
3. George Stewart to Elizabeth French, January 31, 1913. Letter. From New England Historic Genealogical Society, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department, The Bartlett Collection.
4. Roger Thompson, From Deference to Defiance, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012), 50. Note: the original tax record is held at the Boston Public Library
5. Henry Whittemore, History of Middlesex County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men, (New York: J. B. Beers & Co., 1884), 67.
6. Ibid.
7. Lorraine C. White, ed., The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol 26, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000), 72.
8. John W. Barber, Connecticut historical collections containing a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, &c. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Connecticut, with geographical descriptions, (New Haven: Durrie & Peck and J. W. Barber, 1836), 507.
9. Whittemore, Middlesex, 68.
10.  R. W. Bacon ed., Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants, The Middler newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 2012), 6. Use this link until Rootsweb comes back.
11. Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Connecticut County, District and Probate Courts.
12. White, Barbour, 70.
13. White, Barbour, 72
14. Charles W. Manwaring, A Digest of Early Connecticut Probate Records: Hartford District, Vol. I (Hartford: R. S. Peck & Co., 1904), 277.
15. Ibid.
16. Connecticut archives, Towns and lands, 1629-1789: 10 Volumes and Index, Index 48.

6 thoughts on “Who is Alexander Bow?

  1. Trevor Prout says:

    Although I’m still working on the document trail, it seems likely that “Bow Lane” and the “Bow Lane District” in Middletown, CT were originally named for Alexander Bow’s family. See, for example, Middletown Land Records Vol. 4 p. 26, 7/162 and 10/531.


  2. Trevor Prout says:

    It seems likely that “Bow Lane” and the “Bow Lane District” are named for the family of Alexander Bow, who was among the first settlers of Middletown. I have found a number of Middletown Land Records associating the family of Alexander Bow with the Bow Lane District, including MLR 4-26, 7-162 and 10-531, for example.


  3. janet jensen says:

    Great information.
    I’m a descendant of Rebecca Bow and Thomas Stowe. Also a Scottish Prisoner of War, James McCall from Battle of Dunbar.


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