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The Bowles of Clare

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These are just some early notes on some Bowles references I have found, much research must still be done on this county.

The Bowles/Boles, and other variants, in Clare seem to have appeared in the late 1700's in two specific areas from which the surname spread out over the generations.

The earliest reference that I can find for Bowles in Clare is a James Boles and a George Bowles listed in the Ennis Volunteers Minute Book of 1778. ref.  While this was a local militia force under the command of the local principle landholder, Sir Bindon Blood, it does not imply that these men were necessarily Protestants. Notes1  Notes2

The difference in the spelling of their names might imply different families but further research shows that descendants of both James and George used the Bowles spelling with the occasional Bowel, Bowels, Bowell, Bowelles, Boles, Bole and even Bolds showing up from time to time nearby or within the Bowles landholdings.  With few people being literate at that time the clerks recording the events in the original manuscripts just wrote down what they thought the spelling might be.

The two names in the volunteer's minute book of 1778 are consistent with the other earliest records I have been able to find in Clare (so far):

George Bowles of Boheraroan townland, Newmarket-on-Fergus parish's Line

A George Bowles married a Margaret Bellasys in 1780.  We only know that name from a marriage grant that was recorded in the Killaloe & Kilfenora Court Book, which is supposedly at the NAI but I couldn't find it in their online catalogue, with no further information given online.  However, land records show the only George Bowles in Clare at Boheraroan townland in 1825 (the Tithe Applotment) and 1855 (the Griffith Survey).  These dates are rather far apart so these were probably a George Sr and a George Jr.


Portions of the George Bowles of Boheraroan Family Tree

George Bowles m. Margaret Bellasys Oct. 15, 1780 Ennis, co. Clare (George Sr)

George Bowles m. Anne Culloo  (probably George Jr)

  1. Margaret Bowles bp. Sept. 13, 1834 Newmarket-on-Fergus, Killaloe, co. Clare (sponsors: Patt. Shields, Ellen Morony)
  2. George Bowles bp. May 13, 1837 Newmarket-on-Fergus, Killaloe, co. Clare (sponsors: Pat and Lally (?) Connell)

James Bowles m. Jane Halloran May 15, 1860 Newmarket-on-Fergus, Killaloe, co. Clare (witnesses: John Hickey, Anne Fawell (?))

  1. Henry Bowles bp. June 9, 1863 Newmarket-on-Fergus, Killaloe, co. Clare (sponsors: Michael Keane, Jane Halloran)
  2. George Bowles b. April 7, 1866 Newmarket, Clare
  3. Mary Anne Bowles b. May 14, 1867 Newmarket on Fergus, Clare
  4. James Bowles b. June 9, 1869 Newmarket, Clare
  5. Jane Bowles b. June 1, 1871 Newmarket, Clare
  6. Bridget Bowles b. Dec. 21, 1873 Newmarket, Clare
  7. Michael Martin Bowles b. Nov. 9, 1875 co. Clare
  8. Patrick Bowles b. Mar. 22, 1877 co. Clare (father: James b. Newmarket)

Jane Boles b. ca. 1845, widow, and son Patrick Boles b. ca. ? in 1901 Census of Boheraroan, Tomfinlough, Urlan


James Bowles of Glendree townland, Tulla parish's Line

James Boles turns out to be the earliest known ancestor of the Bowles of the parish of Tulla, co. Clare with their holding at Glendree townlands in Tulla parish.  In 1785 James of the 1778 militia list, or possibly James Jr, married Margaret O'Connor, sister of the Very Rev. Ambrose O’Connor.  That first James may have been either Protestant or Catholic but Margaret O'Connor was definitely Catholic and James' line descended solidly in the Catholic faith. The youngest of their known sons, Ambrose Bowles born in 1803, became the Curate at Kilrush in 1824 and the Parish Priest of Kilbarron and Terryglass parish in bordering co. Tipperary from 1833 until his death in an unfortunate swimming accident in 1846.  ref.

James and Margaret's grandson, James Bowles b. 1811 and baptized in the Tulla RC parish church, was ordained in 1837 and was first assigned as Curate to his uncle The Rev. Ambrose Bowles at Kilbarron. In 1841 he became Curate to his Great Uncle the Very Rev. Ambrose O'Connor at Nenagh, in North Tipperary, replacing his predecessor the Rev. Thomas Kenny, who had been the Curate at Nenagh from 1836 until 1841 when he became Parish Priest at Castleconnell ref.

 When the Rev. O'Connor died in 1849 his parishioners asked the Bishop to appoint a popular Curate, Father Nicholas Power, to replace him but instead the Bishop appointed the Rev. Thomas Kenny.  The parishioners refused to accept Kenny back, more to support their choice of Father Power than having any apparent dislike of Kenny, but the Bishop held firm.  Then a strong campaign against Kenny was organized with barricades at the church doors refusing to let him pass to say Mass, petitions signed and presented to the Bishop and even physical threats and attacks on his house.  Kenny proceeded to say Mass and take confessions in the county jail and in the workhouse and showed up regularly at his church where he was greeted with increased hostility.  Father Power pleaded with his supporters to desist and James Bowles remained steadfast in Kenny's and the Bishop's support but finally one day Kenny arrived at his church to find the front doors nailed shut with massive spikes which he and James could not remove. 

This challenge to the Bishop's authority by the parishioners had grown to a point where it made headlines throughout Ireland and threatened the wider authority of the church over parish affairs and could not be allowed to continue.  Father Power was transferred to Kinnitty and Kenny was told to settle the matter using whatever authority it required.  Father Kenny called in the police to enforce their opening of the church and the police recognizing the size of their opposition brought along over 100 men from the 79th Highlanders.  Their successful attempt to re-open the church is told in this account from the Ballina Chronicle of Nov. 7, 1849.  However, their problems with their parishioners must have continued on as Father Kenny died 8 months later, his family blaming his death on the stress, and Father Bowles was appointed PP of Borrisokane in 1851 and finally back to his home parish as PP of Tulla in 1856 where he served until his death in 1880.

Portions of the James Bowles of Glendree Family Tree

John Bowles m. Margaret O’Connor (sister of Very Rev. Ambrose O’Connor) 1785 Clare
  1. Ambrose Bowles (Rev’d.)  bp. Dec. 1803 Limerick Diocese (which includes Tulla) (IGI)
(PC of Kilrush 1824, PP of Kilbarron and Terryglass 1833-1846)
Ambrose d. (drowned) August 1846 Lahinch, co. Clare
  1. John Bowles b. ca. 1806
m. Margaret Molony
(holding land at Glendree, co. Clare in 1827 and 1828 ref.)
2.1   John Bowles b. ca. 1822
m. Ellen Foley Nov. 8, 1839 Tulla, Killaloe, co. Clare
(holding land at Glendree, Tulla in Griffiths Valuation in 1855)
(a John Bowles b. Tulla; served in 65th Foot and Royal Canadian Rifles; discharged at age 36 before 1847)
(a John Bowles was a tailor in Ennis in 1875, 1880 and 1893)
2.1.1        Henry Bowles bp. Dec. 23, 1853 Tulla, co. Clare (sponsor: Catherine Foley) (lived Pittsburgh, PA)
2.1.2        John Bowles
2.1.3        James Bowles (emigrated to Australia ca. 1866)
2.1.4        Patrick Bowles bp. Feb. 4, 1846 Tulla (sponsor: Mary Foley) (emigrated to Australia ca. 1866)
2.1.5        Ambrose Bowles bp. June 4, 1848 Glendree, Tulla (to America)
2.1.6        Mary Bowles (emigrated to Australia)
2.1.7        Margaret Bowles bp. Dec. 26, 1850 Glendree, Tulla (sponsor: Catherine Foley)
m. James McNamara (stayed on land in Glandree)
(ref. from Farquhar: History of the Bowles Family)
2.2  Bridget Bowles (possibly the one who d. 1876 in Tulla at age 60)
m. Ambrose Paddan June 16, 1844 Tulla
2.3  Ellen Bowles m. Patrick Casey of Feakle Mar. 22, 1841, Tulla
2.3.1  Mary Casey (mentioned in a codicil to Uncle James Bowles Will in 1879)
Ellen (mentioned in brother James' Will in 1876)
2.4  James Bowles b. Aug. 10, 1811 Tulla; (ordained in 1837; CC of Kilbarron with Uncle Ambrose Bowles; CC in Nenagh with Great Uncle Ambrose O’Connor 1841-49 and with Rev’d Thomas Kenny 1849-51,  doors of Nenagh church nailed shut on him and Kenny in 1849; curate of Birr 1851-55; PP of Borrisokane; PP Tulla 1856-80)
Rev. James d. Dec. 25, 1880 Tulla bur. in Tulla Church (Will with codicil dated Jan. 29, 1879)
2.5  possibly Ambrose Bowles bp. July 4, 1819 Tulla (wit: John Fahey, Mary Bowles; parents were of Glendree)
2.6  possibly Patrick Bowles bp. Jan. 2, 1831 Tulla (wit: Patrick and Kate Foley)
(also a nephew John McCraith, Esq of Roscrea in James Bowles Will)
John d. 1886  Tulla (at age 80)
  1.  James Bowles b. 1785 co. Clare
(holding land at Corlea Beg, Knockbeha townland, Feakle parish with Patrick McMahon (his father-in-law?) in the Tithe Applotment Books of 1827)
m. Mary Ann McMahon (b. 1789, Patrick) 1813
3.1  Bridget Bowles b. 1814
3.2  Mary Bowles b. 1815;
(emigrated to Australia in 1852)
m. Patrick Egan
3.3  Catherine Bowles b. 1818
3.4  James Bowles b. 1820 Corleigh, co. Clare;
(emigrated to Australia in 1852)
m. Jane O’Malley;
James d. 1889 Echuca, Victoria, Australia
3.5  Ellen Bowles b. 1822
3.6  Margaret Bowles b. 1824;
m. Francis Couch
3.7  Ambrose Bowles b. 1825;
m. Margaret McMahon 1858 Victoria, Australia;
Ambrose d. 1889 Echuca, Victoria, Australia
3.8  Anne Bowles b. 1832
3.9  Jane Bowles b. 1834
(emigrated to Australia in 1852)
John Bowles m. Honora Pepper
  1.  Catherine Bowles b. ca. 1805
m. Michael McMahon (b. ca. 1805; Cornelius, Margaret) ca. 1825
(lived in Glendree and in Alough and Ballyblood)
children: Mary b. 1825 Glendree, Bridget b. 1829, Honora b. 1831, Catherine b. 1833, Conner (Cornelius) b. 1836, Elizabeth (Eliza, Bess) b. 1838, Thomas b. 1839, John (Michael?) b. ca. 1840 or 1843, Ellen b. ca. 1844 and Margaret b.ca. 1847 (all in Tulla region) (Mary (Mrs James Bourke), Honora and Catherine emigrated to Australia in 1853, rest of family except Bridget followed in 1856)
Thomas Bowles m. Mary Rigny
1.  Michael Bowles bp. Sept. 9, 1838 Tulla (sponsors: Thomas Rigny, Mary Edwards)
Biddy (Bridget) Bowles b. ca. 1779 d. 1875 (at age 96) Tulla
Jeremiah Bowles m. Mary Quigley
(a Jeremiah Bowles b. Tulla served in 65th Foot, discharged at age 33 by 1837; b. 1803)
(of Abbey Parish (just SE of Ennis) when they emigrated to Australia in 1841)  ref.
1.  Henry Bowles b. 1838 co. Clare
2.  John Bowles b. Nov. 25, bp. Nov. 29, 1841 Melbourne
James son of James Bowles and Eliz .... (looks like Leming or Simons)
1. James bp. Oct. 2, 1831 Kinsale parish (Catholic) (witnesses: James Maher and Mary Carthy) (note on registry entry: 65th Reg.)
(I have the discharge document for James Bowles, labourer, born Tulla, Tipperary, who served as a Private in the 65th Foot Regiment, attested at Liverpool on Nov. 20, 1820 at 21 years of age, discharged at La Prairie, Lower Canada at age 40 in 1840)

Margaret Bowles of Alougher m. William Kelly of Newmarket Feb. 14, 1831 Tulla
Robert Bowles m. Sara Binton (they lived O'Callaghan's Mills, just SE of Tulla)
1.  Anne Bowles bp. Jan. 13, 1839 O'Callaghan's Mills, co. Clare

Later A Bowles Family at Lifford, Drumcliff Parish just north of Ennis

Although there is no reference to any Bowles here (so far) in the mid-1700's, they were in Drumcliff parish by the end of the century. The discharge document for a John Bowles, born Drumcliff parish, co. Clare served in the 40th Foot Regiment until his discharge at age 28 at sometime in a reporting period between 1820 and 1828.  A Thomas Bowles is listed in the Tithe Applotment Books as holding land at Lifford in 1825 (with a partner named Keane ref.) and again at Lifford in the Easter 1833 applotment (no mention of Keane).  The applotment list which is online for the National Archives of Ireland includes a Norman Bowles at Lifford but the image of the original document attached to the Norman Bowles record clearly shows Thomas. 


The Griffith Valuation of Clare in 1855 lists a Catherine Bowles holding a small garden plot at Lifford.

Portions of the Bowles of Lifford Family Tree

John Bolds b. ca. 1833 and sister Kate b. ca. 1851 in 1901 Census of Borheen, Drumcliff, Ennis
Thomas Bowels m. Catherine Leahy
1. Thomas Bowels Aug. 1842 Drumclift, Ennis
Thomas Bowell m. Ann Cahil
1. Daniel Bowell b. June 20, 1863 Drumclift, Ennis
George Bowell m. Ellen Conners
1. James Bowell b. July 29, 1844 Drumclift, Ennis
Edmund Bowell m. Margaret Glaslay
1. Patrick Bowell b. July 15, 1844 Drumclift, Ennis
Henry Bowles
1. Ellen Bowles bp. Mar. 5, 1825, Quin parish (sponsor: Connor Ryan)


Other Bowles References from An Unspecified Area in Clare

Anne Bowles b. ca. 1796; d. 1869 (at age 73) Ennis, co. Clare
Sarah Bowles b. ca. 1774 d. 1865 co. Clare (at age 91)
Michael Bowles b. ca. 1781 d. 1864 co. Clare (at age 83)
David Bowles b. ca. 1803 d. 1870 co. Clare (at age 67)
Sarah Bowles b. ca. 1807 d. 1867 co. Clare (at age 60)
Patrick Bowles b. ca. 1811 d. 1871 co. Clare (at age 60)
Francis Bowles b. ca. 1814 d. 1873 co. Clare (at age 59)
James Bowles b. ca. 1824 d. 1891 Ennis (at age 67)

This site was last updated 10/19/18