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

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The Bowles of Norfolk and Suffolk 

Back to The Bowles of Great Britain

I am going to deal with these two counties in one section as there were many Bowles families who's stories crossed the border and had connections in both.

Bowles of Earsham, Norfolk

One very early prominent Bowles family, possibly the earliest to use the 'w' in the spelling of their surname, lived in Earsham, Norfolk in the mid-16th century.  At this early date most ancestors of today's Bowles families were recorded with a wide range of surname spellings from Bolles to Boulles to Boulds.  Transcriptions of early records may show Bowles but in most cases this was just an attempt by a transcriber to be helpful by showing the modern spelling when the original document used an unusual variation of it.  However, one line in Earsham appears several times in the original source documents as Bowles:

Baptism of John Bowles in 1578

Burial of both John Bowles (March 11) and his wife Anne (August 30) in 1598

However in the same church register in the same period (1570's to 1610's) there is also a family which is recorded variously as Bowles, Bawlles, Baules, Ballis, Balles and Bales. They are quite likely all related though.  Possibly only the senior line of the family took care to ensure the correct spelling in the registers.

Two members of this family appear in Ireland, one as a merchant in Dublin and the other as the wife of a Bishop.

See The Bowles of Earsham, Norfolk


Thomas Bowles, a shoemaker, was born about 1784 in Shropham, Norfolk.  He married Hannah Davy in Mattishall parish in 1805 where they raised their family.  Most of their children stayed in that area except their son Edward and most of his sons who emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto.  See Edward Bowles of Toronto's Family Tree.

The Thomas Bowles of Norfolk Family Tree has been provided to this site by Maureen Williams who is continuing to research this family's history.  The document is a pdf file so you will require an Adobe Reader to open it.  I would like to express my appreciation to Maureen for sharing her research in this way.

Robert Bowles was born in Neatishead, Norfolk but settled for many years in Redgrave near Botesdale, Suffolk where he was a Grocer and Draper and later moved on to Holt, Norfolk and finally to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  See The Bowles of Neatishead, co. Norfolk.

One Bowles family in Norwich raised two sons who had notable military careers.  One son, Robert, had a 35 year career in India where he attained the rank of Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the East India Company Army in Bombay (1800-01).  A second son, Henry, also served in India and became Captain of the Nabob of Arcot's Cavalry.  His son settled in Kerry, Ireland where he became a JP and leading citizen.  See Joshua Bowles of Norwich

This site was last updated 04/15/19