I have decided it is time to render a verdict on my "Problem Solving" topic. Who was the wife of Quaker minister James Wright? Was it Mary Bowater, Mary Davis or another Mary?
(1) Stewart Baldwin presented a convincing case in his 1997 and 2000 TAG articles for Mary Bowater.
Mary Wright's 1708 condemning of her marriage contrary to discipline is a major stumbling block. Unless James and Mary were married in a non-Quaker ceremony [this possibility came to light recently] and opted to correct the problem. Still, I would think that a Quaker marriage would then have been recorded to justify the union [and children]. The birth of Mary Bowater was recorded as 3 February 1688/9 and Mary Wright's as 2 February 1689 [1688/9 or 1689/90?]. The dates are one day or one day and a year apart. Still close. Mary was in Pennsylvania in time to have married James Wright.
Witnessing the 5 June 1707 Chester Co., PA marriage of William Pusey and Elizabeth Bowater were, among others, a Mary Bowater, a Mary Wright and a James Wright. In all likelihood, the Mary and James Wright witnessing the marriage were our Wrights. The witness Mary Bowater was probably the daughter of John and Frances [Corbett] Bowater. This Mary would become the wife of Stephen Ailes in 1714.
A Mary Bowater witnessed the wedding of Edward Woodward and Abigail Edge on 24 May 1705. The signatures of this Mary and the Mary who witnessed the Pusey wedding show some similarities. I think she is also the daughter of John and Frances. The Wrights were not witnesses. If Mary Wright was Mary Bowater [John Sr. and Ann], she would not have been in Pennsylvania as of yet. [She arrived 28 June 1706.]
There is the fact that James Wright Jr. named one of his children Boyater [Bowater]. Was this to honor his mother's family?
(2) The two main pieces of evidence offered in support of Mary Davis are the wills of John Beals and Sarah Davis.
Beals makes bequests to James Wright and "his kinsman" Mary Davis. The names follow one another in the will. This does not prove a relationship between Wright and Davis. If Mary Davis were Wright's wife, I would think there would be some mention of that fact.
Sarah Davis named her sister, Mary Wright "of Philadelphia," in her will. Mary Wright [James] was not of Philadelphia at the time. There is no proof offered that Mary Wright, sister of Sarah, was married to the Quaker minister.
(3) A Mary with a maiden name other than Bowater or Davis?
Quite possibly. Without a marriage record or some other document giving Mrs. Wright's maiden
name, it will be in doubt.
Additional research needs to be conducted. Trips to the Indiana State Library, Earlham College and the Allen Co. Library [Ft. Wayne] could shed additional light on the project. Pending that additional research, I offer the following:
Mary Wright's maiden name could well have been Bowater. Baldwin offers the most convincing research.
Davis, based on the primary arguments offered, is out. Could Mary still have been a Davis, but there is no clear supporting evidence.
Maiden name unknown? This is the "safest choice" until a marriage or some other evidence turns up.
I will keep Mary Wright as Mary Bowater in my records until convincing evidence suggests otherwise. It will be noted that her maiden name could have been Davis or something else.
[Note: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think that the marriage date for James and Mary can be narrowed. Based on the 5 June 1707 Pusey-Bowater marriage, the Wrights were already married. That would place the marriage in early 1707, at the latest.]