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The Bowles of Berkshire

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Bole, Bolle, Bolles, Boule, Boules, Boeles, de Boeles, Bold, Bolds etc., is an ancient name in Berkshire.  The surname Bowles did not develop until much later but when it did it was descended from some of those early names.  The earlier generations, other than the very wealthiest, just did not care about the spelling of their family name and neither did the clerks who recorded them.  The sparcity of records which have survived from this period plus the varieties in spelling in the ones that did makes it impossible to trace a continual line of descent other than by an inference that a connection would exist between families with the same sounding name in consecutive generations (or even eras) in the same location. 

The family likely originated in Bouelles, Normandy when knights from there accompanied their lord Hugh de Gournay in William Prince of Normandy's conquest of England in 1066.  By the 1100's they had established themselves in Bedfordshire and in the 1200's at least three members of the family were prominent in the Royal Court.  See The de Boeles

In about 1220, Ellis (Helyas) de Boeles married Alice (Aelis), daughter and heiress of William de Stoteville and for a time held the Manor of Stoteville just south of Reading, West Berkshire (the present day Estate of Stratfield Saye, the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817).  He died and Alice married Robert de Say whose family held the estate for generations.

In 1234 another member of this same family, Hugh de Boeles, was awarded a fiefdom in Cherleton (Charlton), Rushall, Berkshire on the border with Staffordshire which the family held until at least 1444.


In the 1300's the Bolle name appears a bit further north at Childrey, Stanford in the Vale (SE of Faringdon), Great Coxwell and at Denchworth.  The Bolle name may have developed from the Boeles line or from an entirely different origin.

The Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1381 lists:





Marital Status

Stanford in the Vale

Ganfield Hundred

Willelmo Bolle

Mat' (Matilda?)



Wantage Hundred

Walterus Bolle




Wantage Hundred

Jul' Bolles



Wantage Hundred

Is' Bolles


Great Coxwell

Faringdon Hundred

Roberto Bolle



Wantage Hundred

Ricardus Bold



The oldest surviving burial register for West Hanney starts in 1564 and we find seven Bowle burials within the first 10 years.  The baptismal register starts in 1582 and the first few pages record an Anne, daughter of John Boules baptized in 1584 and a Margery, daughter of William Boole baptized in 1602 so the family was in this area even earlier, possibly much earlier.

The earliest Bowles memorial on a tombstone is at West Hanney which is actually now part of Oxfordshire but I'll consider this line as the Berkshire Bowles.

In more modern times, the best known of the Bowles in Berkshire would be The Bowles family of Abingdon and Milton Hill who date back to the 1500’s and were a branch of the Bolles of Swineshead, Lincolnshire.   This line was the origin of one and possibly both of the Bowles families who were very prominent in the early printing and publishing industry in London.   See The Bowles Families of London Printers

This site was last updated 12/21/19