In early Maryland, there were few traditional family units: the ratio of men to women immigrants was three to one, with high mortality rates for both men and women. Accordingly, friendships from old England, or those made in Maryland, were all the more important.
This page discusses the connections of Capt. James Bowling (d. 1692) to several other immigrants from Lancashire:
- Millicent Higdon
- John Anderton and John Standish
- William Eltonhead
Relationship to MILLICENT ( — ) HIGDON
A second codicil to James Bowling’s will of 1692 reads “I give unto my Cozen Millisent Higden one Cow and Calfe”, and a 1696 account of his estate records that she received that bequest. Elsewhere he uses the term “cousin” of his nephews and he mentions the bequest to Millisent in a sequence of gifts of apparel to his nephews. What is her relationship to the deceased?
Millicent was thus already married to John Higdon by 1692 and was his surviving executrix in 1724. She was still alive in 1737 when John Parnham bequeathed to her a life tenancy and some personalty. Other than the events of 1692, 1724, and 1737, we have no records of her. The names of her children give no significant clues about family connections.
If Lucille Coone (followed by others) is correct that her children were born in the years c.1693 to c.1709, then it is unlikely that Millicent was born much before 1670. But the James Bowling who came to Maryland and his siblings were born between 1635 and 1655, so they are all clearly a generation older than Millicent.
The other relevant item about Millicent’s background is her economic status. Millicent’s husband John Higdon mentions no real estate in his will of 1723 and his accounts summed to only 31 pounds. Where were they living? The will of John Parnham, written in 1737 (Lib 21.884), leaves some small personalty to “Millasaint Higdon” and gives to his son Francis Xavier Parnham part of Calvert’s Hope bought of Francis Hall, with Millicent Higdon to enjoy the plantation where she now dwells during her life free from rent. Calvert’s Hope was a large estate, laid out for James Bowling for 898 acres, which he left in his will to his wife Mary, who then married Benjamin Hall. Benjamin and Mary Hall then had it resurveyed for 1198 acres and it was inherited by their son Francis who sold it to the Parnhams. So, it seems likely that Millicent Higdon had been living there on James Bowling’s property since the 1600s.
So what was Millicent’s relationship to James Bowling?
1) Could she be a child of one of James’ siblings? Unlikely. We have wills and other documents which detail the children of his siblings and none of these mention Millicent Higdon (although perhaps she was overlooked as a married daughter). Nor is there any further connection of the Bowlings with the Higdon family, which might have been expected from relatives living nearby and sharing a minority religion.
2) Could it be that Millicent was an in-law, i.e. a “cousin” only of James and that by marriage? Quite possibly. James’ second wife and survivor was Mary Brooke, daughter of the prominent Thomas Brooke whose family is well documented. But James’ first wife Ann died early and we know nothing of her or her origins or relatives, so perhaps Millicent was some relative of hers. Or perhaps she was a niece of one of James’ siblings’ spouses. Or perhaps Millicent had first been married to a relative of James Bowling who then died.
3) Was “cousin” used in some very broad sense? Was Millicent a distant relation in England? Possibly.
Options 2 and 3 seem the most likely. The fact that James Bowling only mentions her in a second codicil suggests that she was not a close relative who was on his mind the first two times he was composing his will. Millicent and her son Thomas were also left personal bequests by John Parnham, who seems to have been just a neighbor not a relative. Probably she was a wonderful woman whom her friends and neighbors remembered fondly.
In short, Millicent was probably an in-law or distant relation whom James Bowling remembered as much for her character or kindness as for any family ties. Lucille Coone, in her book Colonial Higdons and Some of Their Descendants (1976), properly states “I have not been able to find a definite relationship between Millicent Higdon and James Bowling”. There is no direct or indirect reason to assume her maiden name was Bowling or Speake— as sometimes appears on the internet. Rather, her maiden name must unfortunately be left blank.
Connections to JOHN ANDERTON and JOHN STANDISH
Two court cases in 1658 are informative about James Bowling’s circle of friends and family at a time not long after he had arrived in Maryland. Bowling, aged 22 then, names two close colleagues: John Anderton and John Standish. Both Anderton and Standish are family names and places in Leyland Hundred, Lancashire, the same locality where James Bowling himself came from. (This is the same place that the Puritan Miles Standish came from.) In particular, John Anderton has been traced to a Catholic family of that name from Birchley Hall; the Andertons in Euxton (3 miles from the Bowlings) were also a wealthy Catholic family whose property was confiscated during the Commonwealth period 1649-1660 (but restored in 1660), which would have been good reason for a younger son to go to Maryland.
On 6 October, 1658, the case of Bowling vs Anderton was heard by Governor and Council. James Bowling’s petition explains that he had a bond with Mr. John Anderton for £40 with the condition that Anderton should buy £20 worth of goods in England according to Bowling’s order to him “in an invoice given when he went to England last in company with the present Governor” and then arrange for the shipping of the goods by “the then next returne of shipping from England to this province of Maryland again (which the said Mr. Anderton never did)” (ArchMd 41: 156-7). [*About Archives of Maryland.]
Bowling’s petition continues saying that he still had enough trust in Anderton that he made a will naming Anderton as an administrator and bequeathed this debt from Anderton to a rear relation in Virginia: “Notwithstanding this Breach of Convenant, God being pleased to visitt your Petitioner [Bowling] with a grievous siknes this last Spring even unto Death, your Petitioner made a Will, and made the said Mr. Anderton Overseer thereof, to dispose of that Debt in case your Petitioner dyed, unto a neare relation of your Petitioner in Virginia.” But Bowling recovered his health and “again demanded of the said Mr. Anderton his debt or Bond back againe, which the said Mr. Anderton did most perfidiously refuse, saying he ought your Petitioner nothing.”
Among the witnesses, William Hampstead testified “That James Bowling did say unto me, that he made choice of John Standish, because he knew his friends and he would do more for the said John then he should do for another.”
In the judgment, the Governor orders “that the Defendant deliver to the plaintiff, John Standish, with his proper hire” and enough goods to make up the sum of £20 (recognizing that he had only paid about £4 so far).
The next day, the Court heard Anderton’s petition against Bowling. The petitioner states that he had allowed James Bowling to live with him last year for overseer of his servants “for the making of a crop of corn and tobacco.” Around June, Anderton had gone home to England and entrusted the finishing of the tobacco crop to Bowling, “Bowling by agreement to have a share of the said crop. But while Anderton was away, around November, Bowling “went downe for Virginia” leaving the crop hanging and the corn in a heap unhusked, with damaging consequences. Bowling alleged that he had had taken care of most of the crops and “having occasion to goe downe to Virginia, he left the care of the Corne and striking the tobacco to Andrew Laremore.” The Court ruled against Anderton since it was proved “that the defendant went downe to Virginia with leave and license from the plaintiff’s mother-in-law (as she herself acknowledgeth in Court).”
From these two cases, we can deduce several things. Bowling and Anderton were clearly very close friends—Bowling trusted Anderton to take care of his business in England and Anderton trusted Bowling to harvest his crop while he was away. Even more so, Bowling seems to have made Anderton the “overseer” of a will he wrote, so there was perhaps no one he trusted more. Since the Andertons were a family living only a few miles from the Bowlings in England, it is reasonable to infer that Anderton and Bowling knew each other from England or had close connections who knew each other there. Similarly, it could be an accident that Bowling chooses Anderton’s servant John Standish, but it seems probable that Standish was a servant of Anderton because Anderton had known him from his neighborhood in England and paid for his passage. [Further research to be done on Anderton’s headrights.]
But the most important detail remains a mystery: who was the “near relation” in Virginia of whom James Bowling spoke in 1658 and whom he apparently visited? Since James Bowling was not yet married then, this relation could only be a relative of his from England. Perhaps research of Northern Neck families will turn up someone with a tie to southern Lancashire.
On 9 Oct 1658 (immediately after these cases), Nicholas Lurkey assigned to James Bowling all his right to 50 acres of land awarded him for completing his time of service to Mr. John Anderton (Lib Q:203). Perhaps this was part of Bowling’s settlement with Anderton. Lurkey was also likely someone Anderton knew from England: Lurkey’s son Thomas had 50 acres of a property called “Lancashire” (P.C. Will 27:309), and in the English records there is later a “Nicholas Lurkey of Eccleston” (about 3 miles from Charnock Richard), shoemaker and registered “Papist” (Engl. Cath. Non-jurors, 118, 123).
William Eltonhead was a wealthy Catholic from Lancashire and the attorney of Leonard Calvert. He was a member of the Maryland Colonial Council and was put to death by the Puritans after the Battle of the Severn (25 March 1655).
In 1658, the Governor and Council heard a petition of Jane Eltonhead, widow of William Eltonhead, about the cattle of Simon Overzee which had become mixed in with her cattle. In this case, both James Bowling, “aged 22 or thereabouts”, and Mr. John Anderton testified about the cattle in such detail that it is clear they lived near the Eltonheads (ArchMd 41:175). Later records make clear that John Anderton was a tenant on the 100 acres of land, part of Little Eltonhead Manor on the Patuxent (ArchMd 49:100; 65:540). John Anderton (born c. 1628) was a very close friend of William Eltonhead since he was called by William Eltonhead, Esq (then in imprisonment after the battle) to witness his nuncupative will (ArchMd 41:178), and Anderton later married Eltonhead’s stepdaughter Gertrude Smith. Other Eltonhead marriages were to Cuthbert Fenwick and Sir Henry Chichley, both of Virginia.
William Eltonhead and his brother Richard were from Prescott, Lancaster (about 18 miles from Charnock Richard, home of the Bowlings). The Eltonhead family there has been described as both Catholic and Royalist. (Full family history in H. Cavanaugh, Colonial Chesapeake Families, vol. 1).
* The Archives of Maryland volumes are also available online, where they can be accessed by specific volume and page number.