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The Bowles Printer/Publishers Families of London

Back to The Bowles of London and Middlesex

Their were actually two separate and possibly unrelated  Bowles families involved in the early print industry in London. Although my theory is that they were related.  See my comments below.

Thomas and James Bowles of London: Printers/Stationers

This, perhaps less well known, of the two families of printers, consisted of brothers Thomas and James Bowles who operated a Stationers Shop on Newgate Street from 1765 to 1840.  They were also connected to the Wace family of London printers.  These Bowles brothers came from The Bolles of Abingdon, Berkshire line.  James returned to Berkshire where he died in 1782 and Thomas died in London in 1788.  Their line did not continue in London.  See Thomas and James Bowles: London Stationers

The other branch includes three generations of famous 17th and 18th century London publishers, the "Father" of the English Country Garden and leads to the Parker-Bowles of today. 

Thomas Bowles, the Founder of a Four Generation Dynasty of Printers/Publishers in London

This family is really two stories, first the London printing dynasty which lasted 150 years and then became The Bowles of Myddelton House, a line which would eventually include Andrew Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall's first husband before Prince Charles.  The London printers are not known to have used The Bolles of Swineshead, Lincolnshire coat-of-arms but the Bowles of Myddelton House certainly did although there are some problems with that as I discuss in The Bolles of Abingdon, Berkshire.  This line may have been related to the above two brothers who operated a nearby stationers shop in London but I haven't yet found any proof of that.

The Four Generations of London Publishers

See also The Bowles of Myddelton House Family Tree

The Bowles of Myddelton House made their fame and fortune starting in the late 1600’s as early leaders in the London engraving, printing and publishing industry.

The earliest known in this line was Thomas Bowles, a printer and publisher of engraved pictures with a shop in his house on the corner of Paul's Alley next to the chapter house in St Paul's Churchyard in London.  Examples of his work dated from as far back as 1691 have survived.  He retired in about 1712 and turned his business over to his sons.  He died in 1721 at which time he was described as "a citizen and joiner of St Gregory by Paul's; he also owned four tenements in London House Yard and a half-share in two houses in Bloomsbury."

Several histories of the London print industry state that Thomas was 'possibly' the son of John Bowles, a joyner (i.e. a carpenter/woodworker) of St. Lawrence Poultry whose Will was proved in 1652. In that will John left all his lands goods and chattels to his wife Katherine, “not a penny to anyone else” and there is no mention of any children.  Printers did often apprentice as joyners as the most difficult part of the process was the hand carving of the wooden plates that they would print from but this John is a bit too old to have been Thomas' father.

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King James I of England and VI of Scotland
by John Faber, published by Thomas Bowles Sr, after Sir Anthony Van Dyck, after Nicholas Hilliard
Date: published circa 1700-1725 (1617)

© National Portrait Gallery, London


King Charles ye First as he sat before ye Pretended Court of Judicature
by John Faber Jr, printed and sold by Thomas Bowles Sr, after Edward Bower
mezzotint, early 18th century (1649)
© National Portrait Gallery, London



His two sons, Thomas (II) and John followed in the family business. Thomas (II) set up his shop in St. Paul's Churchyard (1712-1763).  John Bowles had set up shop at Mercer's Hall in Cheapside by 1725 and moved to The Black Horse, Cornhill by 1734.  After that shop was damaged by fire in 1766 he relocated to No. 13 Cornhill (1766-1779).   His son, Carrington Bowles, worked with him at Cornhill from 1753 until he took over his Uncle Thomas' business in St. Paul's Churchyard in 1764.  Carrington operated his business there until 1793 when it was taken over by his son Henry Carrington Bowles and his partner Samuel Carver operating as Bowles & Carver (1793-1830).

One of John Bowles' more impressive works which is of great use even today to family historians is his 1775 Map of London which shows an incredibly detailed map where the streets our ancestors lived on can be located.

Four generations of London printers, Thomas, John, Thomas (II), Carrington and Henry Carrington Bowles produced some of the most famous prints of portraits, political cartoons, London landscapes and world maps which were greatly in demand in the wealthy British Empire.  Many of these prints exist in galleries and in private collections today.


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NPG D7786
The Travels of Ulyssis
Published London,
Thomas Bowles and John Bowles
Date: 1736

Elizabeth Stanhope (née Butler), Countess of Chesterfield
published by Thomas Bowles Jr, after Sir Peter Lely

Jonathan Swift
by Thomas Burford, published by JohnBowles, 
after Markham
Date: 1744
Margaret Nicholson attempting to assassinate his Majesty King George III
published by Carrington Bowles
George, Prince of Denmark
published by (Henry) Carrington Bowles Jr. and Samuel Carver
While much of their work relied on using artwork borrowed from famous artists and map makers they also produced many original pieces of novelty scenes and political or religious commentary such as these from Carington Bowles in 1780 and 1781.


Note: the illustrations showing NPG on the border are used with permission from The National Portrait Gallery, London.  Larger images of these and many other works can be viewed on their site at:

The Bowles of Enfield, Hertfordshire

In 1799 Henry Carrington Bowles married Anne Garnault, a member of a wealthy Huguenot family connected to the New River Company. Through her he acquired land in Hertford where he built a new great house, Myddelton House.  There he established a new line Bowles line which would eventually lead to Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.  For more on this line see The Bowles of Myddelton House.

Possible Connections to the Other Bowles Printers in London

While this family of engravers/printers/publishers dominated the London market at the same time there were also two brothers James and Thomas  Bowles with a smaller operation in the publishing industry .  There appears to be absolutely no connection between the two lines in the London market but there are some common factors which suggest that there might have been an earlier connection.  The Newgate Street brothers were sons of John Bowles of Abingdon, Berkshire, notable active non-conformists (as defined by the Act of Uniformity of 1662) while the Enfield/London Printers Bowles line were also non-conformists.  While they used their talents to criticize and satirize many political figures and issues they were very low key on religious issues which, if they drew attention to their non-conformity, would probably have had a negative impact on their sales.

Thomas and James' Stationery shop was on Newgate Street just 2 houses down from Panyer Alley as shown on this map.  Thomas Bowles Sr. set up his publishing shop 'next the Chapter House on St Pauls Churchyard'.  The London tax assessments show that the same property which Thomas Sr. held in 1693 was held by him until 1718 then by Thomas II from 1718 to 1764 then by Carington Bowles until 1793 and by Henry Carington Bowles until 1830.  The records do not state the street name except in the 1766 to 1775 entries which indicate that the shop and their residence (2 of their 5 properties in Castlebaynard Ward) were on Ave Maria Lane which is just west of the Chapter House.  The burial of Carington Bowles' daughter Mary in 1775 states that she was 'of Pater Noster Row' which passes behind the Chapter House and then crosses Ave Maria Lane.

So Thomas and James stationer's shop on Newgate Street would have been at most 1 block from the Bowles printing/publishing house.

Both lines also claimed descent from  The Bolles of Swineshead, Lincolnshire and used the Swineshead arms.


Considering their parallel occupations in London there is almost too much in common between them for there to be no connection at all.




Article from Notes and Queries, Published by Oxford University Press, series 3, vol. 2, July - Dec. 1862 



This site was last updated 09/06/21