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The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and Great Britain

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The Bowles of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois

Back to The Bowles of co. Laois

See also The Bowles of Ballickmoyler's Family Tree and The Bowles of Ballickmoyler in Canada and the U.S.

While this web site is a one name study of many different and mostly unconnected Bowles/Boles lines, generally unrelated to mine, my own direct Bowles ancestors lived in Ballickmoyler in the Barony of Slievemargy in Queens County, Ireland from the early 1700's until the early 1800's.

Articles that I have written about this family include:

'The Bowles and the Ballickmoyler Connection' published in the Laois Heritage Society Journal Volume 4 (2008).

'A Carlow Family in Canada'  published in the 2009 Edition of Carloviana: The Journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society

'The Strange Military Career of Michael Bowles' published in The 2019 Edition of Carloviana: The Journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society

'Ancestral Memories' published on the World Irish website in January 2012


Two families which were closely connected to my Bowles were their landlords The Coopers of Coopers Hill and their closest neighbours The Taylors of Ballickmoyler

Also see The Early History of Ballickmoyler

These Early Stories from The Rushes are just here for local interest.


I believe I have sufficient evidence to state that the Bowles of Ballickmoyler were a branch of The Bowles of Chatham, Kent.  See John Bowles of Ballickmoyler and William Bowles of Wingfield for a discussion of that possibility.


Ballickmoyler, county Laois (formerly Queen's County and before that County Leix)

Ballickmoyler Today AerialEntering Ballickmoyler from the EastEntering Ballickmoyler from the south

Ballickmoyler is a small hamlet, really just a few houses and a pub in the Barony of Slievemargy, at a crossroads on the main road from Carlow going NW towards Portlaoise.  A few miles further along on that road is the Church at Castletown (Church of Ireland) where most of the Bowles' baptisms, marriages and funerals were held.  On the way you pass through Arless where a few records of a Catholic branch of the Bowles are found.  The earliest records for the family are found in the area's closest market town, Carlow.  Note: just to the north of Ballickmoyler on the following map you can see the Kilabin Old Church.  Just below the name of the barony 'Slievemargy' on the map you can see the Killeshin Old Church.  Ballickmoyler is variously referred to as being in either Killabban or Killeshin parishes. 

The Barony of Slievemargy is in the SW corner of Queen's county (which is now called co. Laois) with county Carlow to the East and county Kilkenny to the south. County Laois is a land-locked county in Leinster province.
Click on any map to enlarge itSlievemargy in Queens County 1881

The Earliest Records 

Refer to Ballickmoyler Deed Memorials for copies of the deed memorials mentioned here.

The earliest documented date for the Bowles arrival in this area is deed memorial #33778 (Carlow Deed Memorials) dated Jan. 19, 1726  (registered Jan. 26, 1726) for John Bowles of Carlow, shoemaker, for the lease of his home, shop and small garden on Tullow Street in Carlow town.  The lease was for the term of three 'lives' including the life of "
John Bowles first son to the said William Bowles aged about five years". The wording implies that John Bowles Sr. already occupied the property, probably as a renter, and was now purchasing a lease on it.  From this we don't know who William Bowles was but he was likely John's brother or (less likely) his son.  William's son John Bowles Jr. is listed as his first (eldest) son, aged 5, so he was born about 1720.
We next find John Bowles some time before 1750 at Ballickmoyler, Queen's county (co. Laois tosay), about 5 miles NW of Carlow town.

Next there was deed memorial #168056 which was registered Nov. 18, 1767 at the Dublin Land Titles office. It refers to a deed signed between William Cooper of Shraugh (later called Coopers Hill) and John Bowles of Ballickmoyler, perukemaker, (i.e. wig maker) dated July 27, 1750 which defines the terms of the lease which John Bowles held under the Coopers.  It also states John Bowles wife's name to be Ann, his mother's name to be Mary and refers to his eldest son, Michael. The wording of this lease indicates that it is a new lease replacing a previous lease which had already been in effect for some time.

The lease signed in 1750 specified a yearly rental of 5 pounds sterling during John's mother's life (that would represent the terms his father had agreed to in an even earlier lease and indicates that John's father had likely recently died that year) and allowed an increase to 6 pounds per year after her death.  The registration of this deed in 1767 indicates that John's mother, Mary, has probably died that year thus allowing the rent increase. 

The land they were leasing was owned by the Cooper family who lived at Coopers Hill Demesne just East of Ballickmoyler.  See The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and The Coopers of Cooper Hill Demesne.   

The 1750 deed memorial refers to John Bowles' eldest son Michael.  I have found Michael Bowles military discharge papers in the War Office 121/13 collection (Chelsea pensioners records) at the National Archives of England.  When discharged from the British Army in 1792, Michael gave his age as 47 and his place of birth as "the Parish of Killaben in or near the market town of Carlow in the county of Queens".  That fits for Ballickmoyler and confirms his birth to have been around 1744.  The Killabban church was just a couple of miles north of Ballickmoyler.  He had enlisted in 1770 at age 26 so he would have been born in about 1744. 

Michael was identified in 1750 as the eldest son, implying there was also at least one younger son.  In 1747 a Joseph Bowles was baptised at the St. Mary's church in Carlow.  His parents were stated to be John and Ann Bowles of Killeshin parish.  It would seem safe to place John as being about 20 to 30 at the oldest when his eldest son was born in 1744 so that would place John's year of birth as between 1714 and 1724. He may have been born there or may have arrived there with his parents.  That fits well with the John Bowles Jr mentioned as being 5 years old in January 1726 in the deed memorial mentioned above.

Killaban is the name of the civil parish and Killeshin is the church parish but both include the village of Ballickmoyler.  Both Killaban and Killeshin can be seen in the map of the Slievemargy region above.

 The lease tells us that John Bowles was a wigmaker in 1750 which would be consistent with his father being a shoemaker as mentioned in the 1726 lease.  However, the next 5 generation of Bowles in Ballickmoyler and later in Canada returned to using those leather working skills as shoemakers, providing more useful and desired items for their local customers rather than 'perukes' the powdered wigs of a wealthier class.

Other Bowles in this area from that early period

There is a lease from 1770 in Ballickmoyler which was witnessed by John and William Bowles of Ballickmoyler, farmers. ref.  William could be John’s son if he was born between Michael in 1744 and Joseph in 1747.  Michael had left for England by 1768 making William Bowles, the eldest son still working on the farm.

There are also the following burial records at the Castletown Killabban church near Ballickmoyler which the Bowles family were actively involved in building in 1801:

Name            Lived             Date of Burial     Age
Ann Bowles          Killabban           1 Dec 1817       70 (so born ~ 1747)
Lucy Bowles         Ballickmoyler     20 May 1828     78 (so born ~ 1750)
William Bowles     Ballickmoyler     27 April 1831    72 (so born ~ 1759)
Elizabeth Bowles   Ballickmoyler    12 Nov 1846     90 (so born ~ 1756)
William Bowles and Sarah Moore of Ballickmoyler, baptized a son Robert in Carlow in June 1774 (actually he was baptized on June 20th at the Church of Ireland and on June 25th at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, so Sarah was probably Catholic and they were hedging their bets).  Robert married a Quaker, Anne Waring, the widow of Thomas Baker of Ballickmoyler, in 1810 and they had a son Robert in 1811 and a daughter Lucy in 1813.  Both were baptized at the church the Bowles helped to build at Castletown near Ballickmoyler.

About 1765, my direct ancestor, John Bowles' eldest son Michael, left Ballickmoyler to find work in Manchester.  That led to his enlistment in the British Army, his marriage to two and possibly three wives (consecutively, not all at once) with whom he raised a large family.  After his discharge Michael settled in Nottingham where he died in 1799.  See Michael Bowles of Ballickmoyler  His children returned to Ireland though as we find several references for them there shortly after.  His son Michael Jr. baptized a son, John, in the nearby Castletown Church in 1806.  His son Joseph married in Carlow in 1808.  His son John was married and raising a family in Carlow by 1800.

In 1787 John Bowles was The Rev. Edward Whitty's land agent and was beaten badly while accompanying Whitty to seize some cattle from some tenants who were refusing to pay their tithes.  reference

In 1798 the United Irish Rebellion swept through Ballickmoyler which had been a gathering point for United Irish pikemen prior to their attempt to take Carlow town.  Their attempt was turned back by the British Army which was expecting them and they retreated through Ballickmoyler again with the British Army in pursuit.  Most of Ballickmoyler was burned either by the rebels or by British troops, probably by both, including the marketplace and many houses including Joseph and William Bowles' homes and then besieged them in Whitty's house, Providence Lodge.  Joseph and William were able to file for compensation from the government afterwards and received 50% of their claimed damages which allowed them to rebuild in Ballickmoyler. 

See Ballickmoyler in the 1798 United Irish Rebellion for an account of the above events.

Some of the Bowles' church functions of the 1700's were held at St. Mary's Church in Carlow town and these records have survived.   There does not seem to have been a church at Ballickmoyler but the family probably also attended services at the Killabban-Castletown church about 3 miles NW of Ballickmoyler.  The Vestry records for that church indicate that a new church was built there in 1801 replacing an earlier church.  That church was probably also burned in the 1798 rebellion or possibly much earlier and no records for it now exist.  In 1801, the Bowles were active in the planning and building of the Killabban-Castletown church and we find the Bowles records there after that. 

The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and the Church at Castletown

Bowles References in St. Mary's Carlow Church Registers

Bowles records at Killabban-Castletown

The Bowles did rebuild in Ballickmoyler after their houses were burned in the 1798 rebellion but in the increased religious tensions in Ireland which followed those events they may not have felt too welcome by their predominately Catholic neighbours.  In the next few years they would move on to Carlow and many of them would go on to America.  See  The Bowles of Ballickmoyler in Canada and the U.S.

There are a few references to Bowles still in the Ballickmoyler, Killabin parish, co. Laois

My ancestor Michael Bowles (born ~ 1742) and his brothers John (b. ~ 1743) and Joseph (b. 1747) (all sons of 1.1 Michael Bowles Sr. in the Bowles of Ballickmoyler Family Tree) were on the committee which built the Castletown Killabban church near Ballickmoyler in 1801 to replace the local chapel which had been burned in the 1798 rebellion.  John Bowles Sr. died in 1802.  Shortly after that only his son Michael remained in Ballickmoyler.  Son John moved his family to Dunleckney in 1802 and then on to Quebec City, Canada in

The list of the 20 pews in the Castletown church in 1811 has just one assigned to Bowles.  Michael Bowles and William Bowles of Wingfield’s line would have both lived in Ballickmoyler at that time and there were no other C of I churches nearer than Carlow.  Supposedly they shared one pew.

A Lucy Bowles of Ballickmoyler, age 78,  was buried at that church in 1828.  So she was born about 1750.  Obviously this is not Lucy Graham but perhaps both William’s daughter Lucy and Robert’s daughter Lucy were named after this one.

A William Bowles of Ballickmoyler, age 72, was buried at that church in 1831.  So that William Bowles was born about 1759.  Likely William Bowles of Wingfield or possibly John Bowles’ brother William (1.1.5 in the tree).

An Ann Bowles of Ballickmoyler, age 70, was buried there in 1817.  Born about 1747.

An Elizabeth, age 90, buried there 1846 so born 1756.


area after 1798:

From 1801 to 1816 they were heavily involved in the planning, building and operation of the new Castletown-Killabban church just north-west of Ballickmoyler.
The Index to Leighlin Administrations Intestate, (ref: Supplement to the Irish Ancestor, 1972) lists a John Bowles of Ballickmoyler in 1803.
The list of Tithe Applotments for Ballickmoyler, Killabban Civil Parish, Slievemargy for 1824 include the following holdings under the Estate of William & Gregory W. Cooper, Esqrs.:
Bowles Tithe Applotment Ballickmoyler 1824
Plot       Occupying Tenant   # Acres    Yearly    Yearly Amt of
                                       (in a/r/p)   Value      Composites
453       Bowles, William      3  1  10    5 9 10       9 4 2
470       Bowels, Michael      0  1    8    0 0 10       0 0 10

The index books for the Dublin Quaker Meeting Minutes include references to a Robert, deceased, and Anne Bowles of Ballickmoyler, Queen's county at the time of their son Robert's marriage to Hannah Wardell in Dublin in 1833.   See The Robert Bowles Family of Ballickmoyler and Dublin for more information on this branch.  One of their descendants set up a large agricultural business in Dublin and another later settled in Cork.  See The Bowles of Cork City.

Griffith's Primary Valuation for Ballickmoyler  of 1850 lists no Bowles in Ballickmoyler any more but there were 6 people leasing their houses from a William Bowles (see the list below).  The 1852-53 Griffith’s Primary Valuation for Carlow town lists William Bowles as resident on Dublin Road in Carlow town.  That would indicate that after Michael Bowles left for Canada, William moved to Carlow and sub-let the last Bowles land in Ballickmoyler to other families.  See William Bowles of Carlow.

Griffith’s Primary Valuation, co. Laois (Queen’s co.),  Killabban Civil Parish  (Baronies of Ballyadams & Slievemargy; Unions of Athy and Carlow) May 1850 listing people who were leasing property in Killabban Civil Parish in 1850 and the occupiers of the property.  All these lots (Lot 9, units c, d, g, h, i and j) are 10 to 15 perches (200 to 300 sq. ft.), with a land value of 2-3 shillings and a house value of from  8 shillings to £1, 3 shillings. Fiche reference 5.F.10. 


Immediate lessor


Tenement Type

Edward Bambrick

William Bowles


House, office & garden

John Brennan

William Bowles



Thomas Donegan

William Bowles


House, office & garden

James Fitzhenry

William Bowles


House and garden

Mary Holohan

William Bowles



Catherine Neal

William Bowles


House and garden

And that is the last reference that I have for any Bowles connection to Ballickmoyler.

See The Bowles Connection to the Weldon Family


This site was last updated 02/05/21