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Bowles Families in Cumberland of African Descent

Back to The Bowles of Cumberland township, Nova Scotia
This story begins with James Bowles, a free man of African descent who fought for the British during the American Revolution, who was evacuated to Nova Scotia after the British defeat in 1783 and whose son, Cornelius Bowles, was granted land in a newly founded Black community near Amherst in 1814 in return for his father's loyalty.  See James Bowles of Amherst's Family Tree
The importance of this community is acknowledged today in the Black Loyalist Heritage Center and James Bowles story is well documented in an article A Descendant From The Book by JM Bowles and in online articles in the Amherst News and Citizen-Record and the Toronto Metro newspapers so I will only include here a few notes and the family tree of James Bowles' descendants as I have been able to piece it together.  Of particular note would be the direct line of descent from James Bowles to Dwayne Johnson, better known today as the Movie and TV Star - The Rock. Please also see The Rock's Bio on Wikipedia
From the Black History blog: #BlackHistory - Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose original surname is Bowles, is descended from Black Loyalists who fled the United States following the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War. In the Spring of 1783, several thousand Black Loyalists left New York aboard ships bound for Nova Scotia, Canada. One of these Black Loyalists was James Bowles (Bowels), age 28, who states he was born a free man, most likely near Charleston, South Carolina in 1755, and lived with a man named Isaac Bowels. The book that recorded these 3,000 refugees, both free blacks and escaped slaves, is known as the ‘Book of Negroes‘. The ship carrying James Bowles, named the ‘Joseph‘, was captained by James Mitchell and arrived in Annapolis Royale, Nova Scotia on November 9th, 1783. James was a member of an all-Black Loyalist unit known as the Black Pioneers which served under the the command of Colonel Delancey’s brigade during the War of Independence.
His entry in the 'Book of Negroes' (the real book not the movie inspired by that book) gives us some great clues about his earlier life.  In fact the fit is very nice as there was a Tobias Bowles plantation near Charleston in the 1700's.  I have not traced this Tobias Bowles back any further but he was almost certainly a descendant of the Bowles of Deal, England line which included both a Tobias and an Isaac Bowles who were active in trade with America, including in the tobacco and in the slave trade. In this line both Tobias and Isaac were common given names.  One branch of this line settled in The Bahamas from which some members of the family settled in America but I have not yet traced just where they ended up.
James Bowles stated that he had been born a free man near Charleston in 1755 and that he lived with a man named Isaac Bowles there.  Verifying that would require more research, probably in Charleston, but there may be records there which would tell us much more.  At that time a slave could not be given his freedom without the approval of the government and that required paperwork which is probably still in the local archives.
One theory to be found online is that a Thomas Bowles settled near Charleston in the mid-1700's where he had a tobacco plantation.  He probably had a brother Isaac and either Thomas or Isaac could have been Tobias Bowles father.  Others state that Tobias and a brother Isaac moved to Charleston from their long-established family home in Virginia.  Further research should answer that question but in any case this is all that I have been able to learn about Tobias' family tree:
1.  Tobias Bowles b. ca. 1775 (in Charleston, in most references to him online but none of which give a source for that claim, or in Virginia, or in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas according to website but they don't give a source for their claim either) (he had the Bowles tobacco plantation at Charleston in 1800)
m. Susannah Drayton (John Drayton of Drayton Hall, Rebeccah Perry) Mar. 10, 1795 St Philips Parish, Charleston
they had 4 children of which I only know the following one:
1.1  Isaac Bowles b. 1809
m. Emily
1.1.1  Pinckney Downie Bowles (Colonel CSA) b. 1835
(a memorial to Colonel Pinckney Bowles states that he was born in Charleston but that his family came from an old Virginia Bowles line; note: there was indeed a prominent Bowles family in Virginia who were connected to the Bowles of Deal line but I have not yet documented the Virginia Bowles)
Pinckney d. 1910
Isaac d. 1888
Tobias d. 1807 (Will dated Oct. 13, 1807 in which he left most of his estate to Rebeccah Perry “on condition that she, her Executors or Administrators do & shall within three months after my decease, in due form of Law, emancipate & set free my slaves named Harriett, Thursa, Bunfy, Auba & Kit & the issue of the females to be born after the date of this my will.”) See more on that story at Drayton Research Update: Efforts to Emancipate Abigail, Mahala, Rebecca and Abba

This site was last updated 12/14/17