Agency History / Biographical Note:
Pierre Baudouin, a Huguenot emigrant possibly from La Rochelle, France, left the Continent for Dublin, Ireland, by 1683. There, and in Wexford, he functioned as a merchant before immigrating to America in 1686. After a short stay in what is now South Portland, Maine, he arrived in Boston by 1690. There he became a successful merchant and ships' captain. After his death, his eldest son James anglicized "Baudouin" as "Bowdoin," the spelling that the American branch of the family, including his mother, Elizabeth (1643?-1720), also adopted.
Pierre's son James Bowdoin I became one of the wealthiest merchants in Massachusetts and added extensive lands and real estate to the family's holdings. (The three James Bowdoins did not use roman numerals in referring to themselves; they are used as a convenience by the College and historians).
James [I]'s son James Bowdoin II extended the family's businesses, wealth and holdings. As a member of the Massachusetts Council he was appointed to lead the Massachusetts delegation to the Continental Congress, but he failed to attend because of ill health. He also served as president of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention and was the second governor of the Commonwealth (1785-1787), serving during Shay's Rebellion. He was an avid amateur scientist, a founding member and first president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author of several tracts, including A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston....
James [II]'s son James Bowdoin III continued the family's businesses, though his personal interests ran more toward land management and agriculture. He was involved in Massachusetts politics from 1786 to 1796 and was Jefferson's Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain and Co-commissioner to France from 1805 to 1808, living in Paris. Bowdoin College, named for his father, was greatly enriched by his gifts and bequests, which included funds, lands in Maine, and his book, scientific and art collections. He and his wife, Sarah Bowdoin (1761-1826), who accompanied him to Paris, had no children.
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