Person:Hugh Cowan (4)

Hugh Cowan, of Octoraro Creek
  • HHugh Cowan, of Octoraro Creek1679 - Abt 1782
  • WAnn Mathias1701 - 1733/34
m. BEF 1725
  1. James Cowan1725 - 1751
  2. John Cowan1727 - 1747/48
  3. Joseph Cowan1728/29 - 1777
  4. Jean Cowan1730/31 -
  5. Mathias Cowan1734 - 1819
  • HHugh Cowan, of Octoraro Creek1679 - Abt 1782
  • WMary ScottBef 1723 -
m. Bef. 1741
  1. Hannah CowanABT 1741 -
  2. David Cowan1742 - 1786
  3. Ann CowanABT 1743 -
  4. Margaret CowanABT 1745 -
  5. Elizabeth CowanABT 1747 -
  6. William Cowan1749 - 1838
Facts and Events
Name Hugh Cowan, of Octoraro Creek
Gender Male
Birth[1] 1679
Marriage BEF 1725 to Ann Mathias
Marriage Bef. 1741 to Mary Scott
Death? Abt. 1782 Chester County, Pennsylvania



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Document:Will of James Cowan, 1751, PA
Family of Hugh Cowan of Octoraro Creek (Cleanup needed)
Data:Cowan Land Warrants Old Chester PA
Document. Will of Hugh Cowan of Octoraro Creek, Chester County PA, 1776
Source:Fleming, 1971
Transcript:Family History of Hugh Cowan, 1669-aft1749


Timeline:Hugh Cowan, 1700-1783
Octoraro Creek Cowans


From:William Cowan's family history

My grandfather, Hugh Cowan, native of North Ireland immigrated to America about 1700 then about 21 years of age. After his arrival, he settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania about 40 miles west of Philadelphia on what is now the Great Western Turnpike Road. There he took up a large track of land on part of which he resided until the time of his death. He here married Ann Matthews a native of Pennsylvania. By this marriage, he had four children; namely James, John, Jane, and Joseph. His wife afterwards dying, he married Mary Davidson, a native of Ireland about 17 years of age. I am not informed in what years these marriages or the deaths of his wives or his own death happened. By his last marriage, my grandfather had twelve children. Namely, Elizabeth, Mathias, Mary, Ann, Kitty (died in infancy), David, Sally, Kitty, William (my father born December 1749), Susan, Margaret, and Hannah (twins). [Margaret and Hannah were twins.] Concerning these Children:
Joseph married in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he resided until his death. His descendents mostly reside in that part of Pennsylvania.
Mary married Robert Cowan a native of Ireland. They had a number of children, which I believe reside mostly in the western part of PA.
Ann married William Ewing a native of Ireland. They had only one child, which died in infancy.
William, my father, married my mother, Isabella Henderson in Lancaster in Chester County, the 9th of April 1771.... My mother, Isabella Cowan died January 1785 - age 44 years.

The following is based on Source:Fleming, 1971. Flemings presentation is largely, but not completely confirmed by William Cowan's family history

Hugh Cowan is believed to have been born in Ireland about the year 1700 [2]He married Ann Mathias probably between 1721 and 1722. [3]Ann is said to have born Hugh five children, before her death in 1734. Hugh remarried to Mary Scott, by whom he is said to have had an additional six children. Hugh's will, written in 1776, and probated in 1783. [4] See: Analysis: Children of Hugh Cowan of Octoraro Creek

The first documented presence of Hugh in Chester County is probably the recordation of a "Hugh Cowing" in the 1729/30 tax assessment for Sadsbury Township [5] Shortly thereafter (1734) he is shown as receiving a land warrant on a branch of the Brandywine in Sadsbury township. [6]The warrant was issued 9 Oct 1734, surveyed in 1736, and purchased 3 Oct 1739. Fleming, 1971 states that Hugh acquired a second tract of land (270 acres) in Sadsbury Township in 1747. [7]


See also:Family of Hugh Cowan for a previous view of this lineage.

Child List

The following children are as listed in various sources, in the order of presentation in those sources. Hugh's will lists only a wife Mary, and sons Mathias and David, and daughters Anna and Hannah. Based on the will alone you'd have to presume these children were born by Mary.

Flemings listWIlliam's LIstHugh's Will
by Ann Mathias
James James
John John
Joseph Jane
Jean Joseph
by Mary Scott
Hannah ElizabethMathias
William David


The following summarizes information about Hugh's children. These materials were originally taken from Fleming 1971. The family history by WIlliam Cowan, grandson of Hugh, written after 1820, provides a more comprehensive set of information, and differs to some extent from the information provided by Fleming. '

Children by first wife, Ann Mathias (1701-1733/34), marriage before 1725
Person:James Cowan (20)1725 - 1751Catherine Hoapp [Hope]One child born posthumously, and probably did not live to maturity
died in Chester County
Person:John Cowan (34)1727 - 1747/48Died unmarried no descendants
Person:Jean Cowan (3)1730/31 -Mentioned in will of brother James,
William Cowan's family history gives her name as "Jane".
Fleming notes that she was not mentioned in her father's will of 1782, and concludes that she prdeceased him. However, Hugh mentioned none of the children by his first marriage in his will. Jane's fate is unknown.
Person:Joseph Cowan (1)1728/29 - 1777Mary ScottMoved to Westmoreland county, lived on farm "Cowan's Delight" on the Youghiogheny River, near Scott Haven. Died in Revolution.
Children by Mary Scott (Bef 1723 -?) m. Bef. 1741
Person:Elizabeth Cowan (14)ABT 1747 -married David ParkeFleming p. 30
Person:Mathias Cowan (1)1734 - 1819To Westmoreland County, 9 children
Mary[Married Robert Cowan, a native of Ireland. Had a number of children, who were living in Western PA]
Person:Ann Cowan (7)ABT 1743 -[Married William Ewing; one child who died in infancy]]
Kitty 1Died in infancy
Person:David Cowan (11)1742 - 17861) Mary Gray To Cumberland County Prior to Revolution, Big Springs Area, nine children
Kitty 2Name recycling?
Person:William Cowan (26)1749 - 1838Apparently not married. After Revolution went to Westmoreland County, on his half brothers farm on the Youghiogheny River, near Scott Haven. [married Isabella Henderson

in Lancaster in Chester County, the 9th of April 1771. They had seven children:, a boy and girl twins who lived but a few days, Hugh born 21st. December 1772, Daniel born 15th. April 1775, Mary born 21st July 1777, William born 10th November 1779 in Shippensburg, PA. One other child born, stillborn, 1782. Wife Isabella Cowan died January 1785 - age 44 years.

Person:Margaret Cowan (14)ABT 1745 -married Robert CowanPresumably a kinsman of Hugh Cowan, but relationship not known, and Fleming (p. 31) provides no further data. William Cowan 1820 indicates she was the twin sister of Hannah
Person:Hannah Cowan (1)ABT 1741 -William Cowan 1820 indicates she was the twin sister of Hannah

Male line of descent from Hugh Cowan is shown below. James, John, and William had no known descendants. Joseph moved to what was then Bedford County, but later became Westmoreland, settling on the Youghiogheny River near Scott Haven. He had a single son James. Mathias also moved to the Youghiogheny and had three sons. David moved initially to Cumberland County, but after the death of his first wife, he returned to the Octoraro. He died shortly after remarrying. His widow raised the children by the previous marriage. His three sons are believed to have moved to Bourbon County, Ky.


A. James Cowan. The oldest of Hugh Cowan’s children, James, was born on May 4, 1725, and died on October 1, 1751. At death he was little more than twenty six years of age. The brevity of his life largely prevents any conclusion asto what his ability or usefulness might have been. The little informationobtained about him indicates that he was just getting settled and was in theprocess of establishing a home when he was cut down by severe illness anddeath.He married Catherine, a daughter of Thomas and Jannet Hope. Date of his marriage has not been learned. It was probably in the early or middle part of1748, for on November 7 of that year, his father, Hugh Cowan, deeded him atract of 100 acres of land. In this deed is a genealogical record of highimportance. It identifies James as Hugh Cowan’s oldest son:“THIS INDENTURE made the 7th day of November in the year of ourLord 1748 between Hugh Cowan of Sadsbury Township in the County ofChester Yeoman of the one part and James Cowan of the same place,Wheelwright, the eldest son and Heir at law of him the said Hugh Cowanof the other part”.1It may be observed from the above that James’ occupation was that ofWheelwright. His business then would be that of making and repairing wheels,especially of wagons. This was a most important kind of work during pioneerdays.When he died, his wife Catherine was expecting a baby. It is believed thatthe child died at birth, for there is no further mention of the matter. His will made two days before his death, follows:


In the name of God. Amen, the twenty ninth of September in the year of our Lord 1751, I James Cowan in the County of Chester being very sick and week in Body, but of perfect Mind and Memory thanks be givenunto God, therefore, calling unto Mind the mortality of my Body, and knowing that it is appointed for all Men once to die, do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament That is to say, principally and first ofall, -I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it;and for my Body, I recommend it to the Earth, to be buried in a Christianlike and decent manner at the discretion of my Executors, nothingdoubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same againby the mighty Power__________1 Chester County, Pa., Deed Book R, p. 513.********** 9of God. And as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleasedGod to bless me in this Life, I give, devise and dispose of the same in thefollowing manner and form.Imprimis, It is my Will, and I do Order, That in the first place, allmy just Debts and Funeral Charges be paid and Satisfied.Item I give and bequeath unto Jean my Dearly beloved Sister theSum of ten pounds Currency of good and Lawful Monies to be raised andLevied out of my Estate.Item I give and bequeath unto my Dearly Beloved Father my blackbritches and Saddlebags and fur hatt. Item I give and bequeath unto Joseph my Dearly beloved brother my pocket Byble.Item I constitute and - allow my Estate together with all my Household goods and Moveables to be Set up at Publick Vendue and afterbeing Sold the Produce to be Equally Divided Unto three parts Katren[8]my Dearly beloved wife to Injoy the One third part the remainder to be forthe - (benefit) of the child or children and if it please God to bring thischild that she shall suckle and provide for it or cause to be suckled andprovided for till it Arive to two years of Age. I likewise constitute, and ordain Hugh Cowan my Father and Thomas Hoapp[9] My only and Sole Executors of this my Last Will and Testament, Ratifying and Confirming this, and no other to be my Last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have here unto Set my Hand and Seal, the Day and year above written Signed, Sealed Publshed,Pronounced and Declared by the Said James Cowan as his Last Will andTestament, in the Presence ofus the Subscribers viz: James Cowan.John Russell)4th of November 1751James Leard) Inventory 4th of DecemberChester County November 4th 1751 THEN personally appeared John Russell and James Leard and made oath on ye holy Evangelists ofAlmighty God that they were personally present and did See and Heardye testator above named, Sign, Seal Publish pronounce and declare yeabove writing to be their Last Will and Testament and That ye doingthereof he was of sound mind and Memory to ye best of theirunderstanding.

Surratte L. Cowan Jo. Parker, D. Reg.


  1. Transcript:Family History of Hugh Cowan, 1669-aft1749. This may be an error in the source. Elsewhere Hugh is said to have lived until 1782, which would make him 103 at death. Possibly the DOD is in error, or possibly William, his grandson, got this wrong.
  2. Supported by William Cowan's family history, above. Fleming identifies him as being born in County Down, but William's family history does not mention where his father came from. Flemings statements concerning Hugh's origin seems to have been largely driven by the work of Mrs. Dunavant, who identifies this line line of Cowans as coming from County Down. Her view appears to have been based on a belief that they came on the same ship as the Wigton Walkers. While there is documentation of a sort that shows that the Walkers came from County Down, that same documentation does not include the Cowan's as fellow passengers.
  3. An Ann Cowan is buried in the cemetery of the Upper Octoraro Presbyterian Church, with a DOD of 17 March 1734, age 33. This Ann is usually identified as Hugh's wife. From the cemetery transcription we get a DOB for this person of 1701. This would imply a marriage at about 1721 or a bit later. In the same cemetery is the grave of James Cowan, with dates of 1724-1751. James is commonly interpreted as the son of Ann and Hugh. If so, this places the DOM for this couple at 1723 at the latest.
  4. Fleming, 1971:4 identifies children James, John, Joseph, Jean, and Mathias by wife Ann. He mentions Hannah, David, Ann, Elizabeth, Margaret, and William by wife Mary. The basis for most of these children is unknown. Hugh's will of 1776 mentions only wife Mary, sons Mathias and David, and daughters Anna and Hannah.
  5. See Sadsbury Township tax assessment, 1729/30.
  6. See: PA Land warrant register.
  7. See PA Land Warrants. This land warrant seems to correspond to the land eventually patented. However, the warrant entry in the PA Archives register identify this as a "resurvey". The survey for this parcel is identified as being in Book A, p160, but that appears to be an error. In anycase, the record for this has not been found on the PA archives web site.
  8. Catharine Hoapp, presumably "Hope"
  9. Fatherinlaw