Mary (Bowater) Wright

Mary (Bowater) Wright (1689 - 1764)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Mary Wright [uncertain] formerly Bowater aka Davis, Ailes
Born in Chelsea, London, Englandmap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Sister of [half], [half], [half] and
Wife of — married 2 Feb 1707 in East Nottingham Monthly Meeting, Chester County, Province of Pennsylvaniamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Frederick, Colony of Virginiamap
Profile last modified 4 Sep 2019 | Created 3 Jan 2011
This page has been accessed 588 times.


James Wright married Mary Bowater, daughter of John Bowater and Mary Maunder, on 2 Feb 1707 in East Nottingham MM, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Mary was born on 12 Feb 1689,[1][2] died before 6 Mar 1764 in Hopewell Mm, Frederick County,Virginia,and was buried in Hopewell Mm, Frederick County,Virginia.

Research Notes

Those who say Mary's surname is Davis likely got their info from the now disproven book by Walter I. Farmer: In America since 1607. It claims that Mary Davis was of Welsh descent and from Manaoken, Somerset, MD. It also says her birthdate was 16 Mar 1674 and her marriage 2 Dec 1689. This birth date aligns with other children of her supposed parents, James and Margaret Davis, but in no way aligns with the published Quaker birth date for Mary Wright in Hopewell MM records. It also has no other first hand support, other than a family group sheet that states her name and dates came from "Records from the Society of Friends, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Penn in 1908" (C-956).

This oft-printed theory and incongruous lineage in as reputable a source as Farmer, has now effectively been disproven by Stewart Baldwin in "The American Genealogist," Jul/Oct 1997 issue. Mary was a Bowater by multiple pieces of evidence. Baldwin shows her birth date as similar to those from England (with usual confusion between not only Quaker and English dating, but the third problem of old English dating before 1753). Although Quaker records were destroyed for the time period of their marriage, by 26 11th mo 1708/9 in Philadelphia records Mary condemned her marriage as contrary to discipline. This record coincides with the estimated marriage date for Mary and James Wright. Later marriage records of their children include many Bowater relatives as witnesses and do not include any Davis relatives. Mary and James Wright were also listed in the relatives column for her brother, Thomas's daughter's marriage. Lastly, they have a grandson named Bowater. Stewart Baldwin's case that Mary is a Bowater is a fine piece of genealogical analysis (C-999).

However, the opinion on FindAGrave contradicts this and says that Bowater is also wrong surname for Mary:

James Wright did not marry Mary Bowater. Her father was John Bowater which is often confused with an older John Bowater in London who died in 1704. Both men had daughters named Mary and the two men died only a year apart.
The younger John Bowater was born about 1650 in Worcestershire, married Franes Corbott in 1683, and settled in America in 1684. He held Quaker Meetings at his home, had several children and died in 1705. In his will he names his daughter Mary Bowater. His wife, Frances (Corbott) Bowater later names Mary as Mary Ailes in her will. There are also marriage records that show Mary Bowater married Stephen Ailes. Furthermore Stephen Ailes lists two of her nephews as his executors of his will, proving Mary was his wife and not the wife of James Wright.
Also James Wright was a witness at a wedding in November 1707 along with his wife, Mary Wright. Other witnesses included Bowaters, particularly Mary Bowater, with the maiden name of Bowater. So this single document proves that Mrs Mary Wright AND Miss Mary Bowater are two different people and James Wright was married to another Mary, not Mary Bowater.
The whole theory of James Wright marrying Mary Bowater is based on a marriage record of a "Mary Wright" whose marriage was condemned in Dec 1708. First, only this "Mary Wright" is listed, not her husband's name and not her maiden name which could have very well been Wright. Secondly, her supposed marriage to a respected Quaker elder is condemned, why? And thirdly, the late 1708 marriage date is a after the birth of the 1st child in and it is after the document where James and Mary Wright were listed as witnesses to a marriage in 1707. So the theory is based on one record which conflicts with other known facts and does not even have the surname of Bowater listed, just "Mary Wright" which both Mary and the surname of Wright were very common.
The theory also uses circumstantial evidence that because James Wright witnessed many Bowater marriages, then he must be related to them. This assumption is similar of being guilty by association. James Wright a respect Quaker elder and named as one of the founders of the colony of Hopewell Meeting, so naturally he would attend many weddings and other functions. But also more than once he was appointed as keeper of the marriage records. So it was his job to be there. He attended lots of marriages, not just the Bowaters. He recorded and kept the records, then he would journey to the main Quaker Meeting House in Philadelphia and give them a copy. His assigned job led to another theory that he was some kind of a traveling minister.
So far no proof has been found to show who James Wright married beyond her given name of Mary. However multiple records prove Mary Bowater was married to Stephen Ailes.
Recently my father Les Ballinger was DNA tested. He is a direct descendant of James and Mary Wright's 1st born child, Mary who married Josiah Ballinger. I have found no matches to descendants of any Bowaters except for descendants of Sarah daughter of Thomas Bowater. She married John Beals. My father has many matches to John Beals siblings, but no matches from his wife, Sarah Bowater relatives which show that the DNA is coming from the Beals side. We have no known Beals in our family tree whatsoever. So it could be that James Wright wife was a Beals relation or possibly Clayton who was John Beals Sr's wife. All of their descendants which many DNA match to my father would carry both bloodlines.


  1. Records of the London and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting, PRO RG6/498 FHL Film #817,383
  2. The American Genealogist 75:46 (2000)

See also:

  • Info From: "Hopewell, Virginia Memberships, 1759-76"; Name: [p.487] Wright, James Sr. Born: 1671; Name: w. Mary Born: 2-12-1689 (2nd month by old calendar is April)
  • "England and Wales Quaker Birth, Marriage, and Death Records 1578-1837 Quaker Meeting of London and Middlesex" states that she was born 3 Feb 1688. Copy of original is on The handwritten copy says 3rd day of 12th month 1688. At that time (before Feb 1, 1753) the 12th month in Quaker record-keeping was Feb in that old English. For this reason whoever translated her birth as 3 Feb 1688 was probably correct. (Also there is a FHL copy of film #817383. Ref ID is 142.)
  • "England Select Births & Christenings 1538-1975" Same date as previous listing. (The original copies of each look the same. The Quaker records may have taken info from England's records.
  • Global Find-A-Grave for Burials at Sea and Other Specified Burial Locations 1300's on. Mary Wright died Mar 1764 at Frederick Heights, Frederick Co., VA. Burial is in Hopewell MM Cemetery (Quaker)
  • U.S. Find-A-Grave has same basic info.
  • Dorman, John Frederick, C.G., F.A.S.G.. , "Adventurers of Purse and person Virginia 1607-1624/5, 4th ed. p. 809 list Mary "born 16 March 1674/5 at Manokin."
  • John Bowater: Find A Grave: Memorial #82757789
  • Find A Grave: Memorial #101049646

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is Mary your ancestor? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate, or
 star icon contact private message private message private message private message a profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by

DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Mary:

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 1
Guest Album
Guest Album

Login to post a comment.

On 8 Aug 2019 at 18:43 GMT K. Cathey wrote:

This site has a good argument (with documents) that Mary Bowater was the wife of Stephen Ailes, not James Wright. There is not, however, any evidence of Mary Davis or Mary Wentworth being the wife of James Wright. Still, it seems based on this that Mary Bowater was not Mary Wright.

On 7 Aug 2019 at 02:26 GMT David Wilson wrote:

Davis-62339 and Bowater-8 appear to represent the same person because: Unsourced Davis-62339 has same spouse DOD and POD. Evidence on Bowater profile explains an origin to this bad surname.

On 10 Feb 2019 at 13:16 GMT T Stanton wrote:

Bowater-42 and Bowater-8 appear to represent the same person because: Bowater-8 is unsourced and has problems but it is the same person as Bowater-42. The wrong mother on Bowater-8 has been detached. The two profiles should be merged but only keeping data from Bowater-42 which should be merged into the lower numbered Bowater-8. This is part of a larger effort to clean up with Bowater lineage and duplicates. See

On 10 Feb 2019 at 13:13 GMT T Stanton wrote:

Several issues with this unsourced profile. Year of birth is 1689 (not 1659). This profile needs to be corrected and the merged into the profile Mary Bowater Wright which contains correct info. Mary is not the daughter of John Bowater's first wife and she is being detached from that.

On 14 Jun 2018 at 17:18 GMT -- (Whitsett) Benton Ph.D. wrote:

Now I see..... you have Mary Bowater as a very early half-sister of the one who came to British Colonial America. I had never seen her name on the family records. I wondered if she lived. It is the Mary Bowater Wright who was born in 1689, came here, and likely died in Frederick, VA.

On 14 Jun 2018 at 17:12 GMT -- (Whitsett) Benton Ph.D. wrote:

Mary Bowater was daughter of John Bowater and his second wife, Mary Maunder.

She came from ENG to our British Colonies after her parents died. Here she married James Wright, lived in Nottingham Lots until their home was burned. Transferred from Chester Co. , PA MM to Hopewell MM in Fredericks, VA.

Perhaps their two files on Wikitree should be merged.

On 21 Apr 2017 at 16:45 GMT Robin Lee wrote:

Davis-25333 and Bowater-42 appear to represent the same person because: now that her last name at birth is documented, can we agree that this is the same person? Please see Bowater-42 for documentation.

On 15 Feb 2017 at 15:49 GMT Vladislav Židek wrote:

Davis-13844 and Bowater-42 do not represent the same person because: Different state of birth and death. Different birth name.

On 22 Jan 2017 at 20:06 GMT Robin Lee wrote:

Davis-13844 and Davis-25333 are not ready to be merged because: proven last name is Bowater

On 22 Jan 2017 at 15:56 GMT Carol Miller wrote:

Davis-25333 and Bowater-42 are not ready to be merged because: Not enough firm evidence.

more comments

Mary is 11 degrees from Thomas Edison, 18 degrees from Nikola Tesla and 16 degrees from George Westinghouse on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

B  >  Bowater  |  W  >  Wright  >  Mary (Bowater) Wright

Categories: English Quakers | Hopewell Monthly Meeting, Clear Brook, Virginia | Chelsea, Middlesex