Sotterley’s Colonial Past 1699-1775

In 1699 James Bowles purchased 2,000 acres of land on the Patuxent River. The son of a wealthy London merchant, James Bowles prospered through trade with England, West Africa, and the Caribbean, dealing in tobacco, lumber, livestock, and slaves. Appointed to the upper houses of Colonial government and Collector of the Upper Potomac, Bowles also earned stipends and helped to regulate and control trade in the region.



By 1703, James Bowles had built the first two room plantation house on his property using post-in-ground construction later adding a third room by 1720. Also that September the ship, Generous Jenny, arrived with a cargo of slaves from the Gold Coast of Africa to be consigned to James Bowles.

Upon Bowles’ death in 1727, his widow, Rebecca Tasker Addison Bowles, and his three daughters inherited the property that included 41 slaves. In 1729 Rebecca Bowles married George Plater II and thus began four generations of Plater ownership.



Their son, George Plater III, was prominent in Colonial government as his father had been. His second marriage to Elizabeth Rousby from Calvert County added to his connections. Elizabeth Rousby Plater was a political and social asset to her husband. The plantation became known as Sotterley, named for the ancestral home of the