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Several Histories of the de Boeles of Bedfordshire 

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See also Several Histories of the de Busli Family

Draft notes compiled by G.H. Fowler. Including notes on ... the genealogy of the family de Bouelles (Boeles, Buelles, Boweles)

These pages received from the Bedford Borough Council Archives are the research notes made around 1925 on the origin of the de Bouelles family name in Bedfordshire by George Herbert Fowler, a noted historian and compiler of many Bedfordshire historical records.  He had not been able to connect the family back to the de Buslis of Yorkshire but he correctly stated that 'The family of Bouelles (Boeles, Buelles, Boweles) presumedly came from the village of that name near Neufchatel in the Department of Seine Inferieure'.

Reference           M13/5/2/7

Title       Draft notes compiled by G.H. Fowler. Including notes on age qualifications for inheriting land in medieval England and the genealogy of the family de Bouelles (Boeles, Buelles, Boweles).

Date free text    no date c1925

Production date                From: 1920 To: 1925


Dr. G. H. Fowler’s notes on the inquisition in 1283 on John de Boweles of Bedfordshire’s right to inherit his father’s land (notes made about 1925) (16 pages)

My transcript of these pages:

 page B1

The family of de Bouelles (Boeles, Buelles, Boweles) presumably came from the village of that name near Neufchatel in the Department of Seine Inferieure.  Though never of importance, its members occur often in this county during the xiii and xiv century and this inquisition called for an attempt to clear them up.  Henry de B whose parentage has not been traced is the first to appear as holding land in Bedfordshire.  He attested the foundation charter of Newenham Priory (Cartul. Newenham, folio 150, no, 224) passed by Simon de Beauchamp of Bedford  (in 1166/67) and thus was in the county before his marriage; as he attested other charters of both Simon and his son William de Beauchamp and later held land from the Bedford barony in Ravensden, Stagsden, Ren..., and S...pho.  He may be regarded as a knight of that honour but does not appear in the return of its knights ( .... 319-322) (in 1166.  He married between 1185 and 1190 Auda, daughter of Hugh de Beauchamp of Eaton Socon and Philippa de Trailly (... , 68-72) she being widow of William (page B2) Maubanc (d. before 1185) of Wich Malbank or Nantwich; with her came land at Southill (the manor of Roxton (her mother’s marriage portion) from the Trailly share (... xi, 21, 41 and P/1) of the honour of Wardon.  In 1200 a vivid story (R.C.R ii, 158) records how Henry caused to be brought before him from Aylesbury gaol one Walketin a thief to whom he promised life and limb if he would show where he had hidden the money; Walketin was taken to his own house by Henry and his sister where he asked for a sword or knife; when these were naturally refused to him, he bade them dig in front of the settle (?) of an inner room and the money was then found.  Henry is here called the Sheriff and was (page B3) clearly acting in that capacity, but was probably Under Sheriff since the C Dep Sh (county deputy sheriffs?) at that time are known.  He with his wife gave land at Stanford (in Southill) to the nuns of Chicksand (.... , I, 114) to buy themselves linen, and he appears in suits for land in Southill Wootton and Ravensden.  In the last record noted of him he (Bk. J. 1452; ..... , ii, 252) was assessor of the carricage (?) of Beds in 1220.  He had acquired also (.... , vi, 35; xi, 58) by 1206 some land at T..vey, apparently by purchase.  Auda de Beauchamp was still a widow in 1190, when order was given (P.R.S., n.s., I, 17) for her dower; she gave land to Stow priory (Mon. Angl. Vi, 233) at Laudon (?), co. Staffordshire, a Maubanc manor, for the souls of her late husband and her heir Hugh (note: Hugh de Maubanc); the latter must have died young because the Maubanc property was divided amongst heiresses.


page B3 back

Henry however was not the first of his name in this county; Simon de B held (... , folio 52, no 316, folio 88v no 415) the church of Gravenhurst to which he had been presented by William son of Brien and admitted by .... Nicholas while the see of Lincoln was vacant (1167-73) and became the vicar when the church was given to Newenham priory.


p. B4

Henry had (... , xiii, 131; C.R.R., I, 174) three sons, Robert, Walter and Simon.  Robert who occurs (P.R.S. xiv, 129) in 1203 seems to be the Robert de B who was put in charge (R. Lit. Pat., 25b) of two Westmoreland castles under Robert de Vipont, an early connection between the two families.  Walter occurs in a suit for land at Gravenhurst (C. R. R. vi, 82) in 1210.  Simon appears as connected with land at Ravensden and Southill (C.R.R. vii, 72; ...., vi, 43) in 1214.  He is probably the Simon father of Nicholas named in the Newenham Cartulary (...., fo. 10, d, .... 221 g) about 1210/20.  Henry had (erased few words) a dau Auda and John his son and heir.

(note: R. Lit. Pat. Would be Rotuli Litterarum Patentium; this is the reference on page 25 dated 1203 but I cannot read the Latin; Appleby is Appleby-in-Westmorland; Robert de Veteri-Ponte (Vipont) was Baron of Appleby and Lord of Westmoreland; Bellocampo is Beauchamp)


p. B5

Auda became Maid of Honour (Domicella Regina) to Queen Eleanor and 1243 was allowed 10 m yearly at Exch. Till she should receive land of that value; these were assigned to her for her life in 1248 at Bulwell by Sherwood Forest in which she was permitted (Cal. Pat., 1232-47, 407; Cal. Chart., I, 335; Cal. Cl. 1247-51, 446) to a... 13 acres.  She is last found in 1252.


p. B6

John de B first appears in 1210 as suing his half-sister Annora Maubane (C.R.R. vi, 81) for Gr. (or Gl.) Brickhill, co. Bucks,; the suit has been discussed at some length (.... x, 303) in an earlier volume.  He opposed King John, and was in Colchester Castle (R. Lib. Pat. 171b) when surrendered in 1217.  Under Henry III he was active in county matters – one of the knights to convey the money raised by a Fifteenth in 1225.  Justice of Assizes in 1229 and 1234, Escheator in 1232 and Keeper of the Peace in 1242.  In 1242/43 he is returned (B.F., 884, 885) as holding 1 ½ fees in Roxton from the Trailly fee and 2 virgates in Stagsden from the Honour of Bedford.  With his wife Joan (of whom nothing but the name has been traced) he gave the mill and fishery at Roxton


p. B7

to the abbey of Pipewell, co. Northants at a rent which he released in 1251; he had in 1228 bequeathed his body (Cartule Pipewell (B.M., Stowe ms, 937)) folio 91, 92v, 115v) for burial.  His attestation as a knight (... xvii, 24) in 1251 is the last record of him found.  At this point the thread breaks but it is possible that William de Baa who held the 1 ½ fees at Roxton in right of his wife Anna or Annora (F.A I, 6) in 1286 and Alex Bosown (?) who held them jointly with this Walter (F.A. I, 15, 18) in 1302/03 and 1316 had married daughters or grand-daughters of John de B, if one may judge from their entry of claim (... xii, 18 (no. 50), 25 (no. 2)) when land was passing by final conciliation in 1288 and 1280.  Roxton remained with the family of Bosown.


p. B8

A second line, to which the subject of this inquisition belonged, held in Little (Nether) Gravenhurst with .... (....), and later also in Wendon.  From the Newenham Cartulary (NC 216v  1165, 1166; 121v 628, 633; 145 785) it seems possible that Simon the brother of Henry de B was the son of Juliana sister of William son of Rob Brian of Gravenhurst and Milton Brian and was a sub-tenant (C.R.O. vii, 72;  H III vi, 43) in Gravenhurst and Ravensden; he occurs 1200-1214. (this is not correct; see my note below)

His son Nicholas was also sub-tenant (NC 221 f, 221 g) in Stagsden R..hold (Ravensden, presumably under his cousin John de B; but in 1242/43 is returned (B.F. 887) as joint tenant with 1 fee and ½ fee at Gravenhurst which had apparently been split off from the Brian holding there and became known later as Bowels Manor, held of the (maybe Priory) of Bedford, he owns from about 1210/20 to 1242/43.  Peter de B who succeeded him was presumably his son; he exchanged land at Gravenhurst with Ramsey Abbey (A.D., A. 127) in 1254/67.  By his marriage to Mary daughter of Walter de Stukeley (H III xi, 42 and pedigree 1) he acquired an interest in the honour of Wake of Wardon; Peter died (Cal Pet 1272-81, 43) in 1274, his heir and land at Gravenhurst and Wardon being assigned to Thomas Inge.  John his son proved his age by the present inquisition in 1283 and in 1284/86.

note:  Dr Fowler was speculating how the de Boelles acquired land at Gravenhurst but that is explained by John de Buelles marriage to Cecily de Bussi (or de Busci) who was a co-heiress of William de Bussi and his wife Hawise Espec daughter and co-heiress of William Espec who had large holdings in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.  Hawise’s sister Albreada Espec married Geoffrey de Trailli bringing him her share of those holdings, their daughter Philippa was given Roxton on her marriage to Hugh de Beauchamp; their daughter Auda de Beauchamp brought Roxton to Henry de Buelles (after her first husband William Maubanc’s death before 1185.


p. B9

this eventually brought to the family half the manor of Wardon, Landsel (?), T..thil (?) and Hyworth and the manor of Favendish.  The latter of which the early history has long been obscure, was held from Alina Wake (Bh.T. 867) in 1242/43 and later (F.A. i, 11; Cal. i.p.m., viii, 435) from the Honour of Wardon and John de B.  These entries add an unrecognized manor to the honour.  They also seem to show William Spech (Espec) of 1086 from whose Domesday estate the honour was derived, as the ‘William’ followed by a blank space for his surname whose sole holding was entered as 2h at Favendish (D.B. fo. 216) and who has long been a puzzle.  Since the great baron William Peveril held Dorchester to the north of Favendish as well as land in Favendish itself and in P(?)odington and William Spech held Wi..ington and Hinwick to the East and south the scribe did not know which William should be entered for those two hides and left a blank accordingly

+ this suggestion involves an alteration of the relevant sentence in H III 41v mem i par. 25


p. B10

is returned (F.A. i, 6) as holding the fee in Wardor jointly with his cousin William le Quoynte.  In 1299 he was summoned (H III ii, 259) to Carlisle for the expedition against the Scots, received a grant (Cal. Chart. iii 110) of market and fair at Wardon and of free warren at Gravenhurst in 1308, and died (Cal. Fin iv, 387) in 1334.


p. B11

There is also a branch of the family at Holwell, now part of Herts.  In 1086 the abbey of Ramsey had a manor here, which is entirely neglected by V.C.H.; in the middle of the xiiith century.  3 ½ hides of this were held by William de Beauchamp of Bedford (Cart. Rames (R.S.    ) i, 459; iii, 212) and 2 hides in Little Holwell by William de Holewell.  The latter holding remains distinct; we can therefore place with probability on the Beauchamp land Nicholas de B., who was impleaded (R Lit. Cl. i 376b) in 1218 for throwing down a bridge at Fageswell in Holwell; he may be, probably was, identical with his contemporary Nicholas son of Simon de B of Gravenhurst.  By 1272 he had been succeeded (Ass. R. 6, mem    no.    ) by Adam son of Nicholas de B who is returned for 3/8 the fee at Holwell (F.A. i, 5) in 1284/86 and leased rents there (A. D. iv, A 8776) in 1294.  In 1302/03 the holding at Holwell of a second Nicholas de B was returned (F.A. i 13) as 1/18th fee, held from Ramsey Abbey.


p. B12

A Edelsborough in county Bucks a John de B appears (F.A. i, 74) as holding ½ fee in 1284/86, who is not his contemporary John of Gravenhurst and Wardon but seems to be past tenant of a fee (F.A. ii, 153, 175) at Shellow Bowells co. Essex in 1303.  In 1285 he had been imprisoned (Cal. Cl. 1279-88, 314) for forest trespass in Ess (?).  In 1296 he received a rent from the mill at Edlesborough and in 1297 was about 50 years old (Cal. Ipm, iii, 206, 323) with a son Adam.  This tenement at Edlesborough was held from Ralph de Beauchamp of Eaton, and had been granted in chief (H III ii, 75) to Hugh de Beauchamp (iv E) in the middle of the xiith century; Mr F G Gurney kindly sent me the transcript of a charter which John de B attested in 1282, and informed me that the land in Edlesborough, formerly known as Bowells Manor, now belongs to the Chew foundation at Dunstable.  John died (R ?, Origin. , i. 267) in 1321/22 and by 1346 had been succeeded (F.A. i, 128, ii, 175) by Stephen de B.  ...... Edlesborough Shellow.


Chew foundation:  Chew’s Foundation at Dunstable (collection at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives)

William Chew was sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1709. In 1703 he obtained a grant of arms with a device of catherine wheels and griffins' heads which was later to be the badge of the Foundation scholars. He died unmarried in March, 1712/13, leaving an estate worth £28,000 which was inherited by his sisters and coheirs Frances Ashton and Jane Cart, and by Thomas Aynscombe, the son of Elizabeth. The property consisted of fourteen farms in Dunstable, Luton, Kensworth, Caddington, Gravenhurst and Edlesborough, the manors of Fitzhugh, Edlesborough, Bowells and Northall (Bucks.), the two inns and several other cottages and pieces of land in Dunstable, a house in London, and houses in the parish of St. Sepulchre, leased to London tradesmen.


p. Ba & Bb are notes on the proof of age requirements to inherit land

p. Ba

Many inquisitions for ‘proof of age’ have been preserved.  In a case when land was held directly from the king (tenancy in chief) on the death of the holder his heir became a ward of the Crown, which administered his lands and arranged his marriage, or sold these privileges to another guardian.  Before the heir could enter upon his land he must prove his age to be twenty one years and must then pay his ‘relief’ and do homage to the king.  The law recognized more than one qualifying age; for the heir of a sokerman (?) fifteen years was enough; for the heir of a burgess, the age when he could (Glanville lib. viii, cap. 9) ‘discreetly (?) reckon money, measure cloth and similarly carry out other business of his father’.  A girl could consent to marriage at twelve; at fourteen she had reached years of discretion and might choose a guardian (page Bb) but might not alienate her land till she was twenty one.  For legal history these proofs of age are interesting as being trials by witnesses, which for a moment threatened (Pol.(?) Maitl., Hist. Eng. Law, ii, 634-637) to be a serious rival of trial by jury.

Further histories to come

This site was last updated 06/10/19