James Sowter was born on 9 December 1783 to Samuel and Mary Sowter of Ashbourne in Derbyshire. He was one of at least five children born to the couple, including older brothers John and Charles, older sister Frances, and younger brother Samuel. James married Elizabeth Noble by licence in Ashbourne in May 1815, and was buried in the town in December 1832. The couple appear not to have had any children.
The Sowters were pig dealers or jobbers. The brothers began in business with their father, but in 1808 the partnership between Samuel senior and his sons Samuel the younger, John and James was dissolved. All debts owing to the concern were to be received by the same men with the exception of John, who presumably wanted to work alone. The brothers all signed the dissolution agreement, while Samuel the elder merely made his mark.
The family supplied the parish of Uttoxeter with pigs between 1821 and 1829. Their beasts sold for sums between £1 2s and £3 3s apiece, with variations presumably being based on age or size, and on whether adult sows were already in pig. Samuel Sowter (who may have been the father or the son) supplied two pigs in 1823, but Samuel senior died in 1824 meaning that pig deals thereafter were with Samuel junior or, more regularly, James. Uttoxeter bought nine pigs from James up to February 1829 but then the parish’s relationship with the family ceased. Pigs were bought from a range of other men in 1831 including John Williams, Isaac Laban and Thomas Chatterton, but the Sowters had lost or given up the Uttoxeter parish business.
When James died, his widow Elizabeth turned to inn-keeping. She had been the daughter of Mr Noble of the Red Lion Inn of Ashbourne, and so presumably knew the business. In the period 1849-53 she was listed as a widow and publican at the White Lion Inn. She died in Ashbourne in 1855.
Sources: Ashbourne St Oswald baptism of 22 February 1784, marriage of 2 May 1815; London Gazette 14 May 1808, p. 685; SRO D 3891/6/8 and D 3891/6/9; SRO D3891/6/37/4/4; Derby Mercury 5 December 1832; Post Office Directory for Ashbourne (1849); census 1851; Staffordshire Advertiser 8 October 1853; Derbyshire Advertiser 28 September 1855.