Bowden, John William (DNB00)

BOWDEN, JOHN WILLIAM (1798–1844), ecclesiastical writer, was born in London on 21 Feb. 1798. He was the eldest son of John Bowden, of Fulham and Grosvenor Place. In 1812 he went to Harrow, and in 1817 was entered as a commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, simultaneously with the dearest of his friends, John Henry Newman. In 1830 Bowden obtained mathematical honours, and on 24 Nov. took his degree of B.A. In collaboration with Newman, in the following year, he wrote a fiery poem in two cantos on 'St. Bartholomew's Eve' On 4 June 1823 Bowden took his degree of M.A. Three years later, in the autumn of 1826, he was appointed a commissioner of stamps. That office he held for fourteen years, resigning it only on account of ill-health in 1840. Nearly two years after its acceptance he was married, on 6 June 1828, to Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Sir John Edward Swinburne. From 1833 he zealously took part in the Tractarian movement. To Hugh Rose's 'British Magazine' he contributed six of the 178 hymns afterwards, in 1836, collected into a volume as the 'Lyra Apostolica.' His contributions are signed . Cardinal Newman said Bowden 'was one of the earliest assistants and supports of a friend' (meaning himself) 'who at that time commenced the "Tracts for the Times."' For the 'British Critic' Bowden supplied four important contributions. These were: July 1836, 'Rise of the Papal Power;' April 1837, 'On Gothic Architecture;' January 1839, 'On British Association;' July 1841, 'On the Church in the Mediterranean.' The last two were published under Newman's editorship. In the spring of 1839 Bowden was first attacked by the malady which five years afterwards proved fatal. In the autumn of 1839 he went abroad with his family. The winter of that year he passed in Malta. In the spring of 1840 he published his 'Life of Gregory the Seventh.' This work had been first suggested to him, at the instance of Hurrell Froude, by Newman. For some years it had been gradually growing under his hands. Cardinal Newman commends the 'power and liveliness of Bowden's narrative.' He proposed to write, but never produced, a 'Life of St. Boniface,' which in 1843 was announced as in preparation. Bowden's only publication in 1843 was 'A few Remarks on Pews.' How completely at one Newman and Bowden were throughout the whole of the Oxford movement is clearly shown in almost every page of Newman's 'Apologia.' During the summer of 1843 Bowden's complaint returned with increased severity, and he died at his father's house in Grosvenor Place, on 15 Sept. 1844. Cardinal Newman attests emphatically that he passed away 'In undoubting communion with the church of Andrewes and Laud,' adding, with reference to his interment at Fulham, 'he still lives here, the light and comfort of many hearts, who ask no happier, holier end than his.' A posthumous work from Bowden's hand was published in 1845, 'Thoughts on the Work of the Six Days of Creation.' The key to his argument was the motto on the title-page, 'Novum Testamentum in Veteri velabatur, Vetus Testamentum in Novo revelatur.'

[Preface by J. H. K. (Cardinal Newman) to Bowden's Thoughts on the Work of the Six Days of Creation, 1845, pp. v-viii; Newman's Apologia, passim : Mozley's Reminiscences, 1882, ii. 4.]

C. K.