NO day-to-day journals covering the latter years of Bowen’s life until his death on 2 February 1813 have been found.
There exist, nevertheless, scattered reminders of him during that time. These, together with a handful of letters either written by him or to which his signature was subscribed, give a fading picture of the old man’s energies and fortunes. His mind and his passions seem not to have suffered with the passage of time; his memory, if anything, became keener; his preoccupation with the events of the Siege of Quebec fifty years before stronger than ever.
For much of our knowledge of him after the turn of the century we are indebted to the Reverend William Bentley of Salem, himself a prolific diarist and a penetrating observer of humanity. There is nothing to be found in Bentley’s characterizations which in any way contradicts the impression of Ashley Bowen as given by himself through his writings.
This final chapter, then, is composed of scraps, which, when added to Bowen’s own journals, comprise the extent of our knowledge of him. “No man is ever really dead,” an old saying goes, “until he has been forgotten.” Bowen did his best not to die, and Fate arranged for a considerable—in fact, remarkable—number of his papers to be preserved to the present generation. Although the physical Bowen perished long ago, his irrepressible spirit continues to this day.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY309
[30 November 1804] This day I went to Marblehead to dine with Capt. J. Prince. I was received with great hospitality & had the company of Capt. Nathan Martin at dinner. After dinner we were entertained by the original manner of Capt. Ashley Bowen, aged 78, born in 1726. In 1749,310 he took command of 32 men from Marblehead, who entered into the marine service, & they were transported to Halifax. There he found Admiral Durell & entered as a Midshipman on board the Pembroke of 50 guns under Capt. Simcoe, who died on the passage & was succeeded by Capt. Wheelock of the Squirrel Frigate of 20 guns. He was with James Cook, sailing master of the Pembroke, in the survey of the St. Lawrence as his documents shew. This same Cook is the immortal Circumnavigator. Mr. Ashley Bowen’s claims are real but how far they extend to the whole work, could be learnt only by seeing what Cook has given to the public. Mr. Bowen has proofs from his papers of being in that survey with James Cook. I was much pleased with the strength of memory, original manners, & facetious discourse of this old sailor, who pleads warmly for a pension as he is now, as he expressed it, under “bare poles.” A curious representation of his own life under the figure of a Ship, had much fancy, & pleasing expression. I was highly disposed to give him every assistance in gaining public relief.
LETTER FROM JACOB AND BETSEY GRAVES AND DANIEL BOWEN TO ASHLEY BOWEN311
Beloved Parents it is with the greatest Pleasure imaginable that I embrace the few moments at this time to Let you know that we are all well and I hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same Blessing Daniel is Very well and has been ever Since he has been in the Country He remembers his love to you all he Says that he will Come and See you if you will let him Come back again I wish you when you write to me to be very Careful to Direct your Letters to be left at Taunton Post office the Letter you wrote Dated 27th of Janry I Did not receive till 25th of May it has been in Eastoun ever Since the fourth of February your other letter I received in Six days after the Date and was rejoyced to hear that you ware all well our friends at Attleborough ware all well about a fortniht ago I wish you to write to me as offen as you think Proper for it is all the Conoessation we can have I received tow letters last week Dated may the third and it gave me much Satisfaction to hear that you are all well Daniel is a fine Boy and learns fast he can ride horse and Drive oxen he learns to read his Book he has got one yoke of oxen that are one year old that he yokes very offen he remembers his love to all his play mates
Now to Martha
Respected Sister I received your letter last week and was very glad to hear that you are So well you wrote that [you] ware married to Mr Phelps may god Bless your Choice and Enable you to live Comfortable and happy and Contented to togather So long as he Shall See fit to let you live to gather on this Earthly ball and though I never Saw him I receive him as a brother and wish you remember my love to him as a brother wishing for a better acquaintance
Now to Betsy Dear Sister I rejoyce to hear that you are well and I hope that these few improper lines will find you in good health as they leave me and the rest of the family and if god Should See fit to return our Brothers from Sea I flatter my Self that I Shall be So happy as to See Some of you here Daniel Says he wants to See you all very much but he Says he will not come and See you because you will keit him at home
Now as Children we all unite in love to our Parents and or Brothers and Sisters we unite in the Seme to our Brothers and Sisters hopeing as we Join as one in folding our love to you in this letter you will all join as one in receiving it So we remain your Afectionate Children and Brothers and Sister
Norton June 24th 1805
Jacob & Betsal Graves
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY313
[13 January 1806] I spent this day at Marblehead with Capt. John Prince, Our old friend Ashley Bowen was with us & gave us some of his long but not cold stories. The old man can put fire enough into them. His tale of Haddock in 1741 will be in our next Register on Thursday. The singular freedom of speaking & acting which characterises Marblehead, proves their sincerity but makes a mixed impression on a stranger who does not know the cause of it.
ASHLEY BOWEN’S “TALE OF HADDOCK”314
The report of the defeat of Admiral Mathews [published in The Salem Register on 6 January 1806] has touched the indignant pride of a worthy British seaman in our neighbourhood, and we wish to see naval pride, even in America. We felt a wish to indulge the following expression of it.—Mr. Ashley Bowen, of Marblehead, testifies that in 1741, in October, he was in Gibraltar, and that he had good opportunity to know the transactions. That orders were given to Admiral [Nicholas] Haddock to open his letters when the Spanish Fleet bore from certain points named. That every preparation was made to engage, but the signals could not be taken, from the darkness which came on before the fleet was at the points mentioned. But when the fleet of Spanish ships was supposed to bear at the given points, the letters were opened, and the orders were to give the Spanish fleet 8 hours. Admiral Haddock instantly suspected treachery, and resigned his command. A frigate of 20 guns, the Winchelsea, was ordered to examine, and a deceptive light was found upon an old East Indiaman, and the whole plan was discovered. The Spaniards however did not venture into Carthagena, but made for Toulon. Afterwards Admiral [Thomas] Mathews was sent out with [Richard] Lestock, and blockaded the Spanish fleet in Toulon. At this time no war existed between France and England. But the French being uneasy, from the evils which Toulon suffered from the blockade of the Spanish fleet in their port, finally sent out a powerful fleet to protect the Spaniards. This French fleet interposed between the English and Spanish ships. Then Lestock was disposed to engage the Fleets, but Ad. Mathews declined, and after Lestock had gained every advantage over the Spanish fleet, Admiral Mathews obliged him to desist, and put him under an arrest for disobedience of orders. Upon the return to England, Mathews was dismissed from service, and Lestock was applauded, and the whole transaction was discovered to be a part of that treacherous design, which soon burst into open rebellion, and has long been known to distinguish this period of English History. So that in no sense will Mr. Bowen allow this to be a defeat of the English, or any proof of the superior ability of the fleets of France or Spain. This Mr. Bowen, born and now living in Marblehead, was the able midshipman of the British ship Pembroke, who in 1759 assisted the immortal Cook, in the surveys of the St. Lawrence, before Quebec, from which Cook obtained his first honours, and he now remains a proper subject, in his old age, for the gratitude of Great Britain, and of his native country.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY315
[12 February 1806] In copying a little fanciful sketch of the Life of Ashley Bowen, an old seaman of Marblehead, who was with the Immortal Cooke in surveying the St. Lawrence, 1759, I retained the following minutes. This Copy sent to Mr. Bowen. 1745 a lad I was christened on Christmas eve at Port Mahon by Rev. Mr. Preston, Author of the work on Masonry, by the name of Ashley. Lewisburg taken. At Sea in 1740 in the Diligent. 1741 at Sea. 1742 at Sea. 1743 at Sea. 1744 at Sea. 1745 at Sea. 1746 in the Dolphin. 1746 Taken by the French twice. 1747 in the Dolphin. 1748 Had the Small Pox. 1748 in the Burlington. 1749 in the Duncan.316 1750 in the Swift. 1750 Shipwrecked. 1751 in the Commerce. 1752 in the Nancy & Betsey. 1756 Taken by the French. 1758 Married Dorothy Chadwick. 1759 Went again to Canada. 1760 Winter at Canada. 1761 Ashley the Son born. 1763 Left the Sea. 1767 Nathan born. 1770 Dorothy born.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY317
[24 April 1807] Mr. Ashley Bowen of Marblehead, gave me the following Genealogical table of his Family in America. Richard & Ann came to America, New England, in 1640 & landed at Rehoboth & settled Swansey, so named from the place in Wales from which they came. They brought with them Seven Children named William, Obadiah, Richard, Thomas, Alice, Sarah & Ruth. Obadiah, the second son of Richard, married Mary Clifton & had thirteen children named, Obadiah, Samuel, Joseph, Thomas, Jacob, Mary, Sarah, Hanna, Lydia, Mercy, & 3 died in infancy. Obadiah, the first son, married Abigail Bullock & had ten children, named James, Hezekiah, Daniel, Aaron, Peleg, Abigail, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah & Nathan. Nathan was the Father of Ashley Bowen of Marblehead.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY318
[5 May 1807] Sent to Ashley Bowen his Genealogical tree finished by my pupil to gratify that aged seaman entitled to notice for his venerable age & past services.319 Directed it to the Companion of the Immortal Cook, at Marblehead.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY320
[13 May 1807] Sent to Ashley Bowen, the worthy Companion of the Immortal Cook in 1759 at Quebec, the third drawing from the pen of my pupil H[annah] C[rowninshield]. The first was from a view of his life compared to the sailing of a Ship.321 The second was a tree of genealogy till the fourth generation, from the first Bowen who came to America. The last was a view of all nations representing their regard to the Christian religion by the navigation of their Vessels. In the center was the Crucifix. And on the right a rough Sketch of St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead. In the center I placed a figure compounded of an antient Sea God with two Children, one climbing and the other on the knee, from Wright. The Church was on the right with ornamental trees, & the Academy on the left among fruit trees. The address was in the first line of this Note on this page.
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY322
Marblehead May 14 1807
. . . I Recd your third Present with a Letter to friend Prince which I have deliverd, what Compensation I am to make you is out of the Question I hope to make you as much as you had expected—ie I Can only render you the tribute of a Greatfull Heart & hope this will be Passd to your Credit when you Shall receive the Reward for all the Great & Good actions you are dayly in the Habit of Doing—But My Friend Excuse me while I remark on something Extra ie the Friendship & good understanding that now Subsists between you & myself or rather your bounty & good will towards me for Several reasons the remark is Pertinent 1st I am a poor man & you are Rich. 2d our Political oppinions are as opposite as the Poles—now viewing your Friendship toward me in this instance what Shall I Say of your Conduct—have I Pause & Conclude that these things Could only be Produced by a Heart glowing or overflowg with Virtue & Magnanimity—if So there must be allso Charity, this Certainly is Conspicuous in the Several instances of Favour to me & the World Generally Frind B your Charity or the worlds either I claim a right to Considering the Present disposition of the day. when I hear So much Said About Patriotism & Republickism the latter I Profess not to understand—look at france is this it—as to the former I Consider myself Second to no man be his Professions what they may I appeal to my Papers & Journals & Submit them to the Candid world they will live in the Panthion of fame tho like Columbus & Bellesarius I die Poor & Obscure—Sir Call to view 6th of April  59. the drums going about Town beating up for Volunteers—to go & take Quebeck. the 19th of april 75 is recent in our minds but as the other war Prior it had more of Novelty & Sublemity—our Country was alive & Marblehead—like Marblehead—was all fire—King & Country was the theme & the order of the day the drums began in the Morn & the Voice of the People was—heve a go heve a go only give us a head to lead us Judge of my feeling on this occassion. King & Country at stake—& the People only calling for a Leader by noon I could no longer resist. I Said I will take the Charge Ashley Bowen—Ashley Bowen hath consented to lead us—Viva La Rex Viva la Rex was the Cry thro the Day which was Concluded with festivitys & the Early dawn of the Succeeding day—was witness to our Zeal—& our march to head Quotters.
Sir this was not a Momentary Flash—to Pass off like the Early dens here was our all at Stake & our lives offerd—the impression is indeliable nothing Pecuniary was expected or calculated upon but to Preserve or retrieve our Countrys Honor—my own & the Publick records will Prove the fact and the Sequel—& my reward hath been what—why I have had the approbation of the King & the Candid & the magnanimous at this day do me Honour for my Zeal & fidellity (this is Consolatory I must Confess)—I have no reason to repine neither Shall I be ungratefull my Country hath not been—the Unfortunate Seventy five made a Sgnn that deranged all the Plans of the most able Statesmen for years on the subject—the allwise knows his own Purposes I must have Patience & hope traach on—& I am So much of a preedertinarian that I feel Perswaded I shall have that that I am to have being now in the Vicinity of Four Score why Shall I be anxious—my Friends Woolf & Cook had they been Spard like my Selfe would have been now about the Same age. This to me is a Hearing anecdote that We three were born about the same year but they are gone to receive the rewards due to the Patriot & the Brave while Ashley remains. The allwise knows for what—but this Consolation remains with me, that as we three have been associates & Friends once—we Shall again where there Shall be no disparity of rank where there is neither Poverty nor Party—Spirit but the fullest enjoyment for the upright & the Worthy—& the magnanimous will be within hale—hew will be a Company—have association & Enjoyment & Shall I regret that I must So Soon Join & Enjoy with them—No[w]
I am Your Friend
PS One Circumstance Sir I think I have never fully Explaind to you as I wish to have only that Credit myselfe that is due to me to I feel towards others—Admiral Durell whom I enlisted & Servd under I think hath never had that Credit that was due to him he having beat the bush Saunders hath caught the bird. Durell really did the Carpenters Work while Saunders only Came to do the Joiners Work & to Polish (this may be the Fashion of the World) but it is not my fashion. We—(Durell) had Enterd the River & Passd the travers being the most Difficult of all the Navigation—& dispossessed the Enemy of this Stought (and the Thermopele) here by our geting above the traverse the Enemy were So discomforted that they could never after rally & there Ships that they had there Prepard never Preeparrd to Receive us Could be Converted to no other Purpose but fire Ships which afterwards were Sent down in that character—& by our exertions provd harmless—
None Sir had the Obtaining this Passage have been Procrastinated untill the arrival of Saunders the whole expedition must eventually have Provd futile to the Dishonor of Old & New England—both—this I think an importance that the world ought to know & Placd to Durells Credit—
My Journals on this Subject—are at your Service—if you wishd them placed in your archives—where (if the Present Generation do not) a future Generation may do Justice to the Subject from this State of facts, Unembelishd with Polish but wrote by the Honest tar who tho Penerous is above hauking a Coppy right while he can find a Friend (who is above all Price)—to Present them to—
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY323
[4 December 1807] At Capt. Prince’s I saw my old friend Ashley Bowen, aet. 80 & renewed the conversation about the taking of Quebec in 1759 & his friend Cooke in that expedition, his favourite topic.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY324
[1 July 1808] Good old Ashley Bowen, who was in the service against Canada from Marblehead in 1759, lodged in my hands several papers respecting his enlistment. Among others was the proclamation of Gov. Pownal, 29 March 1759, agreably to a resolve of the Gen. Court, to raise 5000 men with wages equal to the land service, to be discharged at Boston with a bounty of 40 shillings with pay tickets from time of entering until discharge & providing for Midshipmen, referring to proclamation of 17 March. A Copy of the Certificate signed by Gov. Pownall & Adm. Durell. Ashley Bowen & his two brothers each had a Vessel in 1758 before they went into the British service. The list of Seamen in his Majesty’s ship Pembroke & the Squirrel includes 32 persons. And which I notice as useful to our families Edw. Arkiss, Robert Bartlet, John Bateman, Samuel Coffrin, W. Cockring, Miles Dalton, Thomas Dove, John Goldsmith, W. Home, Charles Jacobs, W. Ingals, Edw. Kindsley, Arthur Lloyd, Samuel Locke, Roper Linested, Sam. Lyndes, John Malzer, W. Mathews, Francis Musselt, Benj. Nichols, Zachriah Paine, Thomas Peach, Frederick Swaeburg, Edw. Saveren, John Stateman, Walter Stover, Garrett Turell, Robert Thompson, Jona. Welsh, Isaac Warren, Thomas Woodkin, Thomas Walpy, from Marblehead. Mr. Bowen says, I enlisted at request of Robert Hooper Esq. under Col. Jacob Fowle, Esqr. for Halifax, to be under Adm. Durell, Rear Adm. of Blue. Mr. Hooper intended to have 5 Midshipmen from Marblehead, but Bowen was alone in that expectation. We had 10 D. from Capt. W. Curtis & a Certificate & sailed from Marblehead 12 April, & reached Halifax on 16th, & were on board our respective Ships on 17 April. Bowen was ordered for the Pembroke. There is a view from the Pembroke of an attack on Beauport, 31 July. It represents the Russel & Three Sisters Transports on shore at High Water. The Centurion above point Levis. The Dublin, 74 guns, 615 men, Charles Holmes R. Adm. of Blue. The Neptune Ad Saunders Ship, 90 guns, 770 men, below Orleans. Ship South-[er]land, Capt. Rouse, formerly of Boston, above the Dublin. The Pembroke, in which Ashley Bowen was midshipman, & celebrated James Cook, sailing Master off Beauport, John Wheelock Esqr. Capt. with the Richmond Frigate, & Trent frigate. For the list of the Fleet see Knox Vol. I. p. 278. Another view, attested by a notary in 1805, with the extracts “1759 Saturday, May 5, at 7 a.m. The Adm. made a signal to weigh, we weighed & came to sail with Rear Admiral Durell in his M’s ship Princess Amelia the ship Pembroke, Vanguard, Devonshire, Captain, Centurion, Prince of Orange, & the Richmond & Squirrel Frigates, the Boscawen tender & three Transports the whole Fleet consisting of 13 sail.” “Saturday Jul 28 at ½ midnight the Enemy sent down upon our fleet a very long Raft of Fire ships, but by the assistance of the Guard Boats they were towed off without the least damage done to the fleet.” The draught of this raft was taken at the request of James Cook so much known as a Circumnavigator, so says said Bowen upon oath. An account of this raft may be found Knox Vol. 1, p. 350. An East view of the City & Harbour of Halifax taken 30 April 1759 by Ashley Bowen, with the fleet, accompanied these papers.325
TEXT ACCOMPANYING WATERCOLOR SKETCH BY ASHLEY BOWEN ILLUSTRATING A DROWNING IN MARBLEHEAD HARBOR, SEPTEMBER 1808 (see Plate XXXVIII)326
On Saterday September 17, 1808 at half past 10 o.clock before noon Capt Robert Girdler’s boat sunk and John Pedrick & Samuel Hiter were drowned Note in a few hours after Mr Bowen saw Capt Hooper he said he saw the whole of the accident
A memorandum of a suddent accident that happened at Marblehead on Saturday septr 17th at half past 10 o.clock before noon the wind blowing quite hard at S West Capt Girdler had an occasion to go onboard his vessel & the boat having a mainsail which was too large for her full one half & no reef in it it is said he came out of little harbour & turned up to his vessel & Mr Samuel Hiter & Mr John Pedrick were his help & the boat having so much stone ballast more on account of her large mainsail & in getting along side of the Schooner the sail drove the boat under water & the three men jumped into the Sea & Hiter & Pedrick were drowned and Girdler saved Note the drafts man was mistaken he supposed it to be the S West Cable that they were scrubbing and drew the plan accordingly—
As Capt John Hooper & people were on board his vessel scrubbing his Cables saw the whole of the accident expected that the boat must sink ordered the Cable to be thrown overboard & make for the people and he himself & son went in another boat, the first boat passed Girdler and the second boat took Girdler up. Pedrick & Hiter were both drowned and the boats soon found Hiter & brought him on shore to the Indian King Tavern and Doctor John Drury tried every thing possible to restore life but to no purpose and after Pedrick was found they also brought him to the King Tavern and tried every thing possible but to no purpose and finally the Corpse were carried home in the Evening John Pedrick to his father’s & Samuel Hiter to his father’s the next day both funerals were ready at the sound of the bell Hiter came down round the Town house & met Pedrick at Bowen’s Corner & were buried at the buring place of the Pedrick’s near the Meetin house.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY327
[15 February 1809] My old friend Ashley Bowen tells me that he passed his eightieth year last January. His memory is still good, his step firm & his passions strong. He still talks of Gov. Pownal & his old commissions & services, his comrades & his plans & draughts. He told me one of the name had been at Marblehead in a very beggerly way, alluding to Bowen of the Museum,328 asking his charity & that he gave him the tree of the Bowen family drawn by my pupil. I left in his pile, one of the hand bills which passed in Pownal’s time.
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY329
Reverend William Bentley
Marblehead May ye 15 1809
Sir as I was Looking over the Essex Register of Wednesday May ye 10 1809 about Michal Corbetts Killing of Lieutenant Panton on board Brigg Bilboa belonging to Robert Hooper Esq. of Marblehead, Captain Thomas Powers, Commander, and Mr. Hewe Hill his mate, I saw the hole of the Roses Bringing the Brig Bilboa two & from our shore at Marblehead330 It was about two leagues without Half Way Rock on Sunday July ye 22 1770 I was imployed by Sq Hooper in fixing a Brigg which Mr Hill was to command now a building at Danver new mils The Rose carried the Bilboa to Boston and Sqr Hooper went to Boston to attend the Trial of Corbett And about the first of September Lord Hood came to Marblehead to dine with Sqr Hooper and the afternoon Mr Hooper and Lord Hood came Down to Mr Hoopers to show Lord Hood our Harbour and Mr Hooper sent for one from the Riging Loft to know how forward I was with the Brigg Gener Woolf’s Riging and I mentioned to Lord Hood that I was on board a man of war at the Reduction of Quebec as a midshipman And Lord Hood asked me about Capt Simcos Death and many more questions His Majestys Ship Rumney Sailed from Boston for England on Sunday October ye 14 1770. . . . [The remainder concerns the impressment attempt experienced by Bowen in Boston Harbor while serving as an apprentice under Captain Peter Hall, and has been fully quoted in that chronological sequence.]
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY331
as you have by you the Proclimation (which I forwarded you in the year Past) of Govnr Pownal for March 29 1759—with my enlistment—Please to Publish the Proclimation with the enlistment when you can find it Convenient.
In the Perusal of my Fathers Journals I hope you will find matter sufficient to Compensante for your trouble of Perusal In the Perusal of those of my own you may Judge how far I have Sufferd for the want of that Compensation that was So justly due me from my Country
And Shall I beg bitter bread Tho Realms my Valour Savd
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY332
. . . A Friend of mine lately furnished me with a News Paper (Boston Weekly Magazine Augut 25 1804 [or 1809]) where I read the Biographycal account of my Old Friend & intimate Capt James Cook (at first Sight of his Name Sir I am transported back to better days as above alluded to) As I was with him throughout the whole Seige of taking Quebec & his dayly companion on duty its in my Power to State to you Some Mistatments in the Paper above alluded to That Capt Cook never Usd a Pencil untill the Period alluded to in the Paper I believe is fact333—As it also is that I furnished him with the first Survey of the River being a chart of my own Production which Chart with other Surveys and Journals of the Seige are now in my possession
Capt Cook was my Friend & Patron & a Gentleman entitled to all that character that the World has given him (except his Surveying at the Seige of Quebec) the Part (as I was Principle in) I think I ought to have a Small Share in as I have reed no other emolument or compensation for all the Services and toils I Shared with him Capt Cook was amply Recgd for his Services when he returnd from the Campaign but with me it was otherwise having been then employd by the then Provence of Massachusetts & Payment being delayd Untill towards the Revolution (at which time I was informd by the Representative that I was on the Point of receiving it but Hostilities Commencd & I Sufferd Since then have made repeated applications
6 have fard like a Petitioner without Money—
Now Sir—(While Others have been amply rewarded) if I Can obtain no more (tho entitled to the Whole merit of the Survey) indulge me with a Part of what hath been & now is by my Countrymen to liberally bestowd on a Foreigner—& I will freely Bequethe it to Columbia Sons
With Due Respect I am Yours
Such Public or Private Purposes as you may Chuse to make of the foregoing you are at Liberty to
Marblhead Septemb 4th 1809
As Witness my Name
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY334
Marblehead Novembor y 22 1809
Dear Frind as you a So much obliging to me asenting in your Register my Request Be pleased to put these in some of your Next Registers which Will greately Oblige your Humbl Servent335
To the Revrnd William Bentley at Salem
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY336
[2 January 1810] My friend Capt. Prince of M[arblehead] intercedes warmly for Uncle Bowen. His letter in form & matter is as singular as the Case. Uncle was a firm friend to the British & is now without favour from his former friends. It is painful to see a worthy old man neglected upon any account.
ASHLEY BOWEN TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY337
please to send by the bearer the two last petitions which I forwarded to you for the press If you have prepared them for insertion on Saturday I wish you to return them at that time and you will oblige Your most obedient ever faithful & humble servant
Mhead 15th Febry 1810
Sir the Certifitiakt
by John Exshaw338
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY339
[25 June 1810] I saw & conversed with Mr. Nathan Martin, my old friend Ashley Bowen, & Esqr. Mansfield.
ASHLEY BOWEN TO CAPTAIN JOHN PRINCE340
Marblehead Novr 21th 1810
Sir you will Probably be somewhat Supprised on the Receipt of an anonymous communication dictated by a female, who from motives of new personal happiness chooses to conceal her name, and which nothing but imperious necessity cou,d induce her to make this appeal to your candour and Justice, but for the painful apprehension of circumstances which I have most studiously endeavoured to avoid—there is Sir, at the bottom of new Wharf Lane two widows who keep common tipling and game houses to the no small detriment of a great many families in this town as well as my own, and which I fear will ere long Reduce them (to the most, & families distressing circumstances, which by the timely aid and Intervention of some officer of the government may be averted and to you Sir, I address these Lines humbly hoping that you will be so kind as to put a stop to these and such baneful Instruments of vice and Immorality, and thereby confer on a (but for these) respectable part of the community
I am Respectfully yours &c
[Addressed to “Capt Jno Prince Esqr/ Anonimous Recd Jany 1811/ Present”]
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY341
[4 February 1813] Was at Marblehead at the funeral of Capt. Ashley Bowen my old friend. He fell sometime since from a deck & was injuried. Lately on a step & was confined. He died after a short illness, probably from a mortification.342 The same firm man. With all his prejudices & with sacred attachment to British everything, Navy, Church, State, so much did he love the memory of 1759 & his intimate friendship with Cooke the Circumnavigator. I had the consent of the Capt. at the Fort for the troops in procession, but the wife refused. The Cong, minister prayed at the house & the Eng. Ep[iscopal] at the Grave. He was interred in a spot chosen by himself in the New M[eeting] H[ouse] ground, with his kindred, but so as to rise & face St. Michael’s Church. He was a man of as fine stamina of life as I ever knew. His understanding quick, his pursuit eager, resolute & inexhaustible. His probity sure & undisguised. His friendship sovereign & eternal. My father was with him among the Carpenters of 1759, when he was among the seamen. Mr. Bowen had his journals, his plans, his notices of all occurrences, but he was as completely [in] formed upon the Quebec expedition as the human mind can admit & his last thought as powerful as his first.
ASHLEY BOWEN’S OBITUARY IN THE ESSEX REGISTER, SALEM, 6 FEBRUARY 1813343
Died at Marblehead on Tuesday last [2 February 1813], Capt. ASHLEY BOWEN, aged 86. This extraordinary man was born in 1728, and by power of intellect, soul of purpose, and unity of character, was distinguished through life. All his faculties lived with him till he expired, and they all took their leave of him together. Before his death he suffered by a fall, as he had once before in his active life, and these proved the cause of his death, almost without the form of disease, and without any interruption of that firmness which never forsook him. In the war in Canada he was known as the best man to unite authority, with a sure influence on the seamen who were drawn out to attend the expedition in 1759, and he had every testimony of full success. When he had reached Quebec he found a soul congenial with his own, the immortal circumnavigator Cooke, and with him he surveyed the river, and every thing which could exercise their talent, and could prove useful to the expedition. The Great Cooke continued in the career upon which he gloriously entered, and has the ample record of his fame. The scene of Mr. Bowen’s life was different from that of his ambition. With his New England friends he returned, and by their sympathies was directed to the employments of his home. But not a trace was ever lost of the former scene, nor could he change in the slightest degree the form of thought which his mind had taken, when he left the St. Lawrence. All his views of Marine Greatness were from the omnipotence of the British navy, and tho’ his country was dear to him, he never could perceive the path through which she could move to marine power. This state of mind arose from the contemplation through a long life of only one object that filled his soul. Had he begun his career at the present moment, we have no doubt from him we might have dated glory to our country. The probity of this extraordinary man has always been admired. His journals and papers have proved his attention to every thing which passed before him, and his constitution of mind did not suffer the least apparent change till his dissolution. Time must turn over many a page, and review many a record, before he points to such another man.
DIARY OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM BENTLEY344
[11 May 1818] We have been lately publishing his [Captain John Prince’s] Uncle Ashley Bowen’s Journal.345 He was a man of strong but uncultivated mind. He had a soul for everything but his writings would not recommend him unless first known.