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 Magdalena <I>Woods</I> Bowyer

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Magdalena Woods Bowyer

  • Birth 1706 Dunshaughlin, County Meath, Ireland
  • Death 1810 Timber Ridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
  • Burial Timber Ridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 59565145

Magdalena and John McDowell were the parents of:
Samuel/29 Oct 1735 m. Mary McClung
James/1739 m. Elizabeth Cloyd
Sarah Martha/16 Oct 1741 (Mrs George Moffett)

In 1743, Magdalena married Benjamin Borden - they were the parents of three children:

In 1753, Magdalena married John Bowyer - they had no children.

"It has been said that she was a 'very beautiful' woman. She lived to be 104 years old!"

Benjamin Borden contracted with John McDowell, (contract dated October, 1737 and done at his home, called “Great Spring” literally right next to Lord Fairfax’s, “Greenway Court” in northern Virginia) for John to be his first and principal surveyor and help bring in enough settlers to fulfill the terms of the grant and have the deed for it recorded.

John McDowell and his wife, Magdalene, then were responsible for bringing into the grant most of the 92 original families in 1738-1739, and the deed for the grant was recorded in 1739 for a total of 92,100 acres. John McDowell was killed on December 25, 1742 and, just about a year later, his widow married Benjamin Borden, III. who had been long pursuing her. In fact when the surveying was being done for the first 92 families, and the paperwork being written up, Benjamin Borden Sr. had his son Benjamin Jr. live with the McDowells to help with the paperwork and such. So the second marriage was founded on relationships in the first.

Magdalene had children by both John McDowell and Benjamin Borden, III. Several children died, at the same time Benjamin Borden, III, died of smallpox in 1753, but there remained three children from the first marriage and one by her marriage to Benjamin Borden, III. Magdalene had no children by her third husband, John Bowyer, but that didn’t prevent him from trying to take a piece of what rightfully was to be inherited by her children. That mess, at least, was the shortest of the several lawsuits, “only” taking about nine years to resolve — about three years after the death of John Bowyer himself!

As for the Borden Grant, it included Augusta County, and most of several adjacent counties originally. The terms of the grant were that each original settling family were to receive 100 acres free and clear for agreeing to settle, and could purchase up to 1,000 acres total at the rate of 50 shillings per 500 acres. Many families had a few hundred acres, few purchased the full 1,000 acres. This meant that when Benjamin Borden died, in 1753, his wife still owned or held mortgages on well over 60,000 acres, as some of the purchases were being made over time through mortgages. John McDowell, for his services was granted 1,000 acres outright (1737 contract).

The Woods River Grant was probably named for the Woods family, Magdalene’s family, for whom Woods Creek, off the James River just north of Lexington was also named. Her brother, Richard Woods, was one of the first sheriffs of Augusta County, and she had at least nine siblings, sisters and brothers, who all were settlers on the Borden Grant, some of whom did acquire that 1,000 acres each, and more, as other settlers sold out and moved on. They acquired additional lands as they opened up, adjacent to the Borden Grant.

She and her siblings were children of Samuel Woods and Elizabeth Campbell, not the Michael Woods and Mary Campbell of Albemarle County family, who may have been (researchers are still working on this) brother and sister respectively to Samuel and Elizabeth. Michael and Samuel were contemporary and did live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near one another in the 1730’s prior to moving to Virginia (a lawsuit from a merchant, surnamed Smith, in Pennsylvania shows this; he named members of both families in it, and described some of the relationships. The lawsuit was transferred to Augusta County, Virginia, after a point).

(Cecelia Fabos-Becker, historical and Virginia family researcher, 25 Jan 2016)

[CORRECTION: Mary Magdalena Woods was the daughter of Samuel Woods and Elizabeth Campbell, NOT -Michael Marion Woods and Mary Campbell-.
Samuel was Michael's brother and Elizabeth was Mary's sister.
Samuel McDowell, Magdalena's and John's oldest son, born in 1735 was named for Magdalena's father, Samuel Woods.
This has been proven through verifiable records that were obviously not researched by Neander Woods, the author who later admitted he incorrectly relied on the Woods-McAfee unverified information when he wrote that Mary Magdelena was the daughter of Michael and Mary.

Please correct her memorial.

Thank you,
Deb Redmon, Direct descendant of Samuel Woods and Elizabeth Campbell; 9 Sep 2012]

The site of Magdelene’s grave is not known for sure, but Rev. Neander Woods believes it would be in the surrounding graveyard of the Old Stone Church. This is good logic, for he points out that she was a founding member of the church and an active member all of her life.

She would not be buried at the McDowell cemetery, for the grandchildren erected the beautiful monument to Captain John McDowell in 1855. If Magdelene was buried here, then they would have erected a monument to her at the same time.

Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church history by Jim Tracy:
My family history website has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters, then go to my Home Page

Family Members





  • Created by: Sue McDuffe:)
  • Added: 3 Oct 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 59565145
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Magdalena Woods Bowyer (1706–1810), Find A Grave Memorial no. 59565145, citing Timber Ridge Presbyterian Churchyard, Timber Ridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Sue McDuffe:) (contributor 47122067) .