The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and England 


de Cornhell

There is a possibility of a connection between the Bole’s of Kent and London through the de Cornhell family.  One of the earliest references for the Bole’s in Kent is a land exchange agreement from about 1230 involving the Canterbury Cathedral Priory and several other parties in a field bordering on Simon Bole’s property in Reginald de Cornhell’s demesne of Knoldane.  In the next generation in the mid-1200’s there are land grants for holdings around Canterbury involving the priory, Reginald son of Reginald de Cornhell and both Simon Boles and Ivo Boles son of Simon. 

The “de Cornhell” name is thought to refer to either of two Cornhells (or Cornhills), either the one in London or one in Northumberland.  Reginald de Cornhell was indeed connected to Cornhill in London and further research revealed an ongoing relationship between the Canterbury Priory and Reginald involving the Cornhill area of London where we find more members of the Boles family.

The earliest indication of the relationship between de Cornhell and the Priory is a Grant in Perpetual Alms dated between 1139 and 1154 in which Stephen, King of England granted land at Barksore in Kent (at Lower Halstow just East of Chatham) to the priory for which Gervase de Cornhill signed as a witness.  ref.   By an undated grant from between 1177 and 1179, Gervase, Reginald son of Gervase and Matilda wife of Reginald and daughter of Hamo Gervase gave some land they owned behind the Priory’s bell tower to the Priory of Canterbury Cathedral in exchange for receiving some land which the priory owned on Friday Street in London.  ref.   A grant dated between 1191 and 1199 from Ralph de Cornhull to the Canterbury Cathedral Priory involved land in London which “Theodoric the goldsmith ('Theodor aurifaber') held in All Saints parish” and was witnessed by Henry, Mayor of London and Reginald de Cornhull.  ref.   A grant from 1213 makes an interesting link between those two parties and Clerkenwell: “From: Reginald de Cornhill' To: Canterbury Cathedral Priory The whole payment he has from 2 houses in Friday Street ('frideistrete') in the city of London, which he held of the fee of Clerkenwell”.  This payment to the Priory is in restitution for “things taken away by him or his men and the satisfaction of injuries”.  ref.  This is further explained in a grant dated between 1213 and 1215: “From: Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury To: Richard Sperun of London. The whole of the land with houses which Reginald de Cornhull gave Stephen for the outrages ('excessus') which he committed in the archbishopric of Canterbury during Stephen's exile when he had custody of the archbishopric on behalf of the king [John].”  ref. 

The previous grants reflect an important period in British History.  In 1205, King John and the Pope disagreed over who should be appointed Archbishop of England.  The Pope consecrated Stephen Langdon of Canterbury in June 1207 and in July the King expelled the Canterbury monks and Stephen went into exile.  From the above it seems that the King put Reginald de Cornhill in charge of the archbishopric in the interim.  The Pope excommunicated the King and a power struggle ensued until the King yielded in 1213 and Stephen returned from exile.  He then absolved the King but the struggle for authority continued until King John yielded to a united force of church and Barons led by Langdon which resulted in the signing of the Magna Carta in June 1215.  With Stephen’s return to power in 1213, Reginald de Cornhill made restitution for the damages his men committed during his occupancy of Canterbury.

A later grant comments that the houses which he had granted to the Cathedral were opposite the church of St. Matthew.  ref.   An undated grant from a few years later from Reginald son of Reginald de Cornhill makes the same gift of the two houses.  ref.  He must have received them in his father’s Will and issued the grant to straighten out any doubt of the houses’ ownership.  This grant states “for things taken away by him or his father” so he had also been involved in the occupation of the bishopric.

A grant from 1338 involving 2 shops in Broad Street ('Bradestret'') in the St. Bartholomew the Less parish and the Cornhill Ward of London assigned the properties to John le Litle, citizen and fish monger.  In 1364 John Litle granted these properties to Roger de Nosterfeld, rector of St Margaret Fish Street Hill, London and to William de Horne of Kent.  That must have been for a limited term as in 1384 Robert Litle, citizen and fish monger granted these “2 shops in Broad Street in St Bartholomew the Less parish, London, lying with Robert Litle’s shop” to Thomas Bole, ironmonger and citizen of London, and his wife Alice for a term of 24 years.  In 1392, King Richard II, returned some land in London to the Canterbury Cathedral Priory which he had been holding under his own name.  Stephen de Betenham, John Sheldwych and John Flemyng, all of Kent, were charged with delivering “seisin to the prior and convent of Canterbury Cathedral Priory of those lands, tenements and other property which they held of the gift of Robert Little, citizen and fishmonger of London, and Joan, his wife in …. the parishes of St Michael Cornhill in Cornhill ward and St Bartholomew the Less ('parvus') in Broad Street ('Bradstrete') ward, London.  Thomas Boles would have been still holding the shops on Broad Street at that time. 

There is nothing here to prove a relationship between the Boles at Ickham with the Boles in London but the connection of the Boles name with both the de Cornhell family and the Priory in both locations leaves the possibility open.  

See The Early Boles of London for more on the Boles side of this possible connection.


See The Bowles of Canada

See  The Bowles of Ireland

See The Bowles of Great Britain

This page was last updated 10/18/18