Chapter II


(The Courtship of Dorothy Chadwick)

NOTHING could better illustrate Ashley Bowen’s belief in the fulfillment of dreams than his own account of the way he met the first of his three wives, Dorothy Chadwick. There is no reason to take it in any way other than on its face value.

Some twentieth-century Chadwicks like to trace their descent from Alfred the Great and King Henry I of France, but there remain no traits of royalty now nor were there any in the eighteenth century. In the Boxford-Reading-Andover-Haverhill-Bradford areas of Massachusetts there were as many Chadwicks as trees in the forest, one of which, about 1700, fell on one of them and killed him. Most of them were farmers, woodsmen, shoemakers, and plain, simple folk.

Nothing is known of Dorothy, aside from the moles and marks by which Ashley Bowen identified her from his dream, except that she was probably the youngest child of Edmund Chadwick and Mary Kimball Chadwick. She was two months shy of her twentieth birthday when she married, and in the thirteen years before her death she bore to Ashley six children. Three of these died in infancy. The eldest living son, Ashley Junior, evidently never had much use for his father, nor his father for him. He decamped from Marblehead in 1778 and was never heard from again. The only surviving daughter by this marriage died a spinster at Salem aged seventy-one, and son Nathan died at Dominica in 1794, aged twenty-six, only sixteen months after his own marriage.

Dorothy Chadwick Bowen died on 17 August 1771, the victim of the lingering after-effects of having been delivered some months before of a stillborn, premature five-month girl.

About the first of September 1757 as our carpenters began to rip up our sloop [Olive] they found every beam end in her rotten, and days growing shorter, I had a time of it, for she proved so rotten that she had every beam and knee new and 18 top timber on one side and 17 on the other, and, as she was employed in carrying horses, she had a very short quarterdeck and all her stern timbers [were] rotten.53 I advised with Mr. Hooper to run our main deck quite aft to her sternpost and to continue our quarterdeck 8 feet further forward in order to strengthen her. So our main deck run fore and aft [made of] 3-inch pine plank, and we had to new sheath her 3 strake, and we did not finish her at Salem till November. And after we came to Marblehead we took on board lumber to [make] hogshead with in our hold and then I took on board one tier of hogs [heads] fish and mas[?] with a deckload of lumber. And I sailed from Marblehead for St. Eustatius November the 28. I arrived at St. Eustatius on December the 25 and I delivered my cargo to Mr. James Freeman and our sloop cost so much to repair her, and having a good opportunity to get home, and [I] left Mr. James Freeman’s employ and came home to Marblehead with my B[rother Nathan] Bowen.

Now, as concerning marriage. In 1749 I boarded with Mr. Elias Currel when I was Mate of brig Duke of Cumberland,54 and his daughter expected me to pay suit to her but as I shifted my board to Mr. Simpson Boden’s, I became acquainted with one Mary Andros, and I paid a great attention to her. And as young women do sometimes try [their] progress so they tried me and put under my head a plate, knife, and fork with a blade bone of lamb tied up in a napkin. And I dreamed I saw an elderly woman with a girl of about 10 years old a-standing by her side, and I thought that the girl was the one I was to have. So, when I discovered the plot, I could not fix my affection on Molly as I did before time, for of all the women I ever saw I could not ever fancy one to wife till I saw her, which was about one hundred leagues at sea on my passage home from the West Indies in sloop Olive. The first of June 1757 in the afternoon as I lay down about 3 p.m., I saw a woman sitting on my [sea] chest. I expected I was awake, and I examined her face and saw five moles on her right cheek, and some other remark.

I arrived at Marblehead in June 1757, and when I came on shore I went to my lodgings to Mrs. Mary Boden’s. There I found two or three likely young women [for] as Mrs. Boden was a tailoress she had many girls to learn the trade. One Dorothy Chadwick, a young woman from Boxford, served the last summer with Mrs. Boden and came down to Marblehead to finish her service, and I sailed the morning before, mate of Captain Philip Lewis, in December, and I was taken by the French and afterwards I had the command of sloop Olive owned by Mr. James Freeman. I examined two of the former young women and found no moles nor marks. After I had delivered my cargo and laid up my sloop and cloth[ed] myself, I determined to go out in the country to see my sister, Sarah Johnson, widow to Mr. Ebenezer Johnson, and I agreed with Mrs. Cowell for her horse to go off tomorrow, Saterday. Note: Mr. Benjamin Russell boarded with me, and we lodged together in one bed, and the evening before I was to set off Mr. Russell asked me if I was bound to Andover. I said I was. He said he would send a letter to Dolly’s sister, and he saith she was a fine young woman. Note: Mr. Russell had courted Dolly all winter and had carried her up to Boxford, and by all reports was espoused to her but not married. So, I said to Mr. Russell, “If you will write a letter to Mrs. Mehitable Chadwick I will carry it or the one to Dorothy.” He said I might write one and he would sign it. So I wrote a letter in Mr. Russell’s name and gave myself as good a character as we thought was my true one, and when Mr. Russell came home to breakfast I shew him the letter to read. [He said] “I do not want to read it, but I will sign it.” I sealed it up and set off for Andover. [I] came to my sister Johnson’s and after dinner we went to Mr. Stephen Barker’s, and there I saw Mrs. Mehitable Chadwick, and I gave her Mr. Russell’s letter and she opened it, and as she read I a-looking at her but could not find any moles or mark.

So, after Mehitable Chadwick had read Mr. B. Russell letter and I well examined her face, I thought to pay her a visit. I went to Andover Meeting House on Sunday. In the evening I went to Mr. Stephen Barker’s and tarried with M. Chadwick till midnight, but I thought it but lost labor to think of ever coming so far as Andover for a wife. She put me to bed in order to wait another night, as Sunday night did not so well suit her. In the morning after a fine breakfast, I had my horse brought to the gate. Mehitable and I stood a-talking the affair over. I asked her if it was much out of my way to go and see Dolly. She might wish to send some word to Mr. Russell. She directed me the road as exact as if she had given me a plan, and, coming to a shoemaker’s shop, I went and inquired of the master of the shop if one Dorothy Chadwick was in the house. He conducted me into his house where I saw two nice looking young women, but I could find no moles nor marks. Soon after, came in the very person I expected I saw come on board the sloop Olive when I was, I expect, one hundred leagues to sea. As soon as I saw her I do not know how to express my feeling unless it was as when Mary salut[ed] Elizabeth [and] the Babe leaped in her womb for joy. So, they all quitted the room and I had a fair opportunity to examine her real moles and marks with real sweet kisses of real substance of lips and breast and all the qualifications a young woman could be endowed with to make a man happy. After my expressing to how I felt when I went to sea that morning—“had I tarried till you came to Marblehead I expects that as we should have had an opportunity of being acquainted with one another—for if I had seen you before Mr. Russell you would have given me so much satisfaction that I expect that we should have been marry. But now, as it is, will you keep my company for the future? I will pay all the attention in my power to you, and if you will receive my suit and acquaint me where I shall find you I will wait on you the next Thursday even[ing],” which answer was, “Be patient.”

I expect I tarried with Dolly at Mr. David Chadwick nearly an hour and then sat off for home, and I inquired of Mrs. Boden and she said that Mr. Russell sent her up to Boxford on purpose to see Dolly and to find whether she thought that Dolly had regard enough for him as to marry him, and she saith that she was sure that Dolly had not regards enough for to marry him, notwithstanding that he had left earrings and rings that were his mother’s and she had shirts to make for him. Then I said that she was [to be] my wife. Then I came to Salem and I saw Mr. Benjamin Porter of Boxford, and I wrote a letter and I sent it by him to his son, Moses Porter, for Dolly Chadwick, and on Thursday I hired a horse at Salem and went to Boxford and saw Dolly and never parted her company till married, and we had six living children.

Married in May 1758. Our first child, a son, born in January 1759, named Ashley, and died August 1760. Our [second] son Ashley was born February 2, 1761. February 11, 1764 our daughter Hannah was born. March 24, 1766 was born a daughter, her name is Dorothy. July the 10 [1766] our daughter Dorothy died. September the 30, 1767 our son Nathan born. January the 8, 1770 our son Ambrose born. Our son Ambrose died May the 31, 1770. My wife Dorothy died on August 17, 1771. I married Mary Shaw December the 8, 1771. My daughter Mary born December the 1, 1774. My daughter Sally Ashley born May the 12, 1776. On Monday, June the 25, 1781 died my wife Mary, and I married Mrs. Hannah Graves, widow to Mr. Jacob Graves, formerly of Lynn, and I had six children by her. Married in February 1782 and had two children born in October 1782, a son and a daughter—the son named Edward Ashley 3 the daughter Martha Galusha—christened by Mr. Nathan Fisher of Salem, September the 28, 1783. And my daughter Elizabeth was born March the 8, 1785 and my son Ambrose was born May the 11, 1788 and was christened by Mr. Thomas Fitch Oliver, and on Sunday ninety one a son was born whose name was Daniel, born August the 7, 1791. November the 16, 1795 died our son Daniel. On November the 26, 1798 our son Ambrose died, aged ten years and 5 month and 25 day, and on Thursday, March the 30, 1797 our present son Daniel was born [and] christened by Mr. William Harris at St. Michael’s. My son Nathan died at Dominica in W[est] I[ndies] in March the 27, 1793 [1794], mate of Captain Ebenezer Graves, aged 26 years, 5 months and 26 days. My daughter Mary died November the 28, 1796.

Now I must turn to my travels again. And so, after my arriving in sloop Olive, [I] thought that Mr. Freeman was a good deal dissatisfied and came on board with a merchant in order [to] sell the sloop, and as I had a fine opportunity to get home with my brother Nathan, then master of a brig of Colonel Jeremiah Lee’s, Esquire, I left the sloop Olive and came home to seek bread. And the first thing that I did I took a wife and shipped myself Mate of Captain Mr. [Michael] Coombs and went with him to Lisbon and did tolerably well. After we returned I went to housekeeping and I went one trip a-wooding and then tarried at home all winter.

We three brothers had each a vessel in 1758, and in the spring of 1759 we neither of us had a vessel. So our General Court appointed us 3 and Mr. William Pousland and Mr. Thomas Nichols, both mates of Mr. Hooper’s ships, but none of them would accept the offer but myself, and I enlisted and I got 17 [volunteers] that day, and I got myself ready and I sailed for Halifax the 12 of April 1759 with 32 seamen besides myself and arrived at Halifax the 16 and all [were ordered] on board our ships.55 Sixteen and myself on board the Pembroke of 60 guns and 16 on board the Squirrel of 20 guns. So we went to Quebec. Discharged at Quebec September the 30 and came home in a transport ship [of] 500 tons and arrived at Boston the 10 November, and I came home to Marblehead. I found my wife and son quite well and all my father’s family well, and I tarried at home all winter a-petitioning our General Court for extraordinary pay for my extraordinary service. And in May 1760 I engaged with Mr. Joseph Weare of old York to go in his schooner Swallow [as] master and pilot for the river St. Lawrence.56 So I sailed from Boston May the 25, 1760 with 28 head of cattle and arrived at Quebec June 28. The 30 we landed our cattle at the Island of Orleans safe, and we spent the summer a-wooding from Island Orleans to Quebec, and in the fall we went to Mount Royal [Montreal] and lay all winter at the River Sorel till April the 20, 1761 [when we] came through Lake St. Peters and to Quebec. Arrived at Boston May 27, 1761. I arrived from Quebec May the 27, 1761. I tarried at home about rigging all summer and at home all winter.