Shadrach Bowman was born on May 2,1829 in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He attended the Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania before entering Dickinson College in 1853. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Union Philosophical Society. Bowman graduated with the class of 1855, and received his master’s degree from the College in 1864.
From 1855 to1857 Bowman was a member of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church; in 1857, he transferred to the Newark Conference. He then served as pastor in several churches in Pennsylvania until he accepted a position at Dickinson College in 1866. As professor of Biblical languages and literature, Bowman gave instruction in Greek and Hebrew. He completed his doctorate in theology from Rutgers College and another in systematic theology from DePauw University in 1870. Bowman left Dickinson in 1871, having failed to institute a new program of Biblical studies at the college.
Bowman returned to preaching, serving congregations in Lock Haven, Bedford, York, and Morristown, New Jersey. From 1877 until 1882, he served on the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College. In 1882, Bowman accepted the position of dean and professor of systematic theology at DePauw University. After seven years there, he served as pastor for three years at Katonah, New York. He returned to teaching at Drew Theological Seminary in 1903.
He married Mary Elizabeth Aber of Lynn, Massachusetts on November 25, 1856. Shadrach Laycock Bowman died in 1906.