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The Bowles of Sandwich, Kent

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See The Dutch Bolles of Sandwich for the story of a very unique Bowles family which settled in Sandwich in 1561 and undoubtedly left descendants in the area although by the late 1600's their descendants cannot be distinguished from The English Bolles in the same parish.

There are references for a continual Bolle presence in the Sandwich area since the 1300's, the earliest records that I have access to.

This early presence and the strong connections between the ports of Sandwich and Deal makes these Bolles a very likely source for The Bolles of Deal, Ringwould, Great Mongeham and Walmer. 

The earliest Bowles I have found in this area were a wealthy Bolle family, wine merchants in Sandwich, who held land in Felderland just south of Sandwich in the 1300-1400's.  The following documents a line of Bolles who are almost certainly one family but there is insufficient information to establish whether this is all direct line inheritence or if brothers or nephews are involved at some point.

William Bolle of the Hundred of Ringslow and Probably of Sandwich

The 1334 Lay Subsidy of Kent lists a William Bolle who was assessed a levy of 2s 4d for land he held in the Hundred of Ringslow (principle towns: Minster-in-Thanet, Monkton, St Nicholas at Wade, Stonar, Thanet)  but was exempt as a Freeman of the Liberty of the Cinque Ports.  The only Cinque Port (England's five main ports for trade with the Continent) near The Hundred of Ringslow was the port of Sandwich right on the SE edge of the Hundred of Ringslow.  As a Cinque Port, Sandwich was exempt from taxation and was not even assessed so if William or any other Bolle also held land in Sandwich it would not appear in the Lay Subsidy list.  In the following is a further reference to a John Bolle, a Portman of Sandwich, who held land here in the late 1300's.

Thomas Bolle, wine merchant and mariner of Sandwich, 1370's

In an article in Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 134 (2014) A Maritime Community in War and Peace: Kentish Ports, Ships and Mariners, 1320 to 1400 by Andrew Ayton and Craig Lambert, while discussing the correct way to count the Kentish ships active in the King's wars, they state on p. 73 "in the period 1370-80 Thomas Bolle of Sandwich, for example, served six times in a naval capacity.  On two occasions he commanded the Peter while for the other four he was in charge of the James. So although Bolle undertook six voyages he did so in only two unique ships" and on page 87 they state "seafarers sat within the middle to higher economic sectors of that community. Examining Kentish shipmasters as a socio-economic group, taking account of a variety of source evidence, we can paint a prosopographical portrait of a typical career for a Kentish master during years of frequent warfare. The picture that emerges is one in which masters are pressed into royal service on a regular basis, but their mainstay of activity was the wine trade, and the re-export of wine via coastal voyages. John Condy, Richard and Robert Champeneys, Thomas Bolle, John Prison and John Andreu were all active in the cross Channel and coastal wine trade."

John Bolle, a Portman of Sandwich, with land in Ringslow and Faversham Hundreds

See the following reference

John Bolle, Leading citizen and Mayor of Sandwich (1423), with land at Eastry, 1400-1430's

John Bolle of Sandwich was a Jurat of Sandwich (1418-1423), Mayor of Sandwich in 1423-24.  ref. (Kent AO, St. John’s hosp. reg. ff. 10, 11, 14; W. Boys, Sandwich , i. 40.) and represented Sandwich in Parliament in 1420-22.  He was prominent among the men of Sandwich who, in June 1422, were obliged to give surety in £100 to the King, to keep the peace towards the prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, whose property at Sandwich they had recently damaged, and to appear before the Council to hear its judgement on their disputes. ref. (CCR, 1419-22, p. 265)   The History of Parliament Online states that this John 'may have been the son of John Bolle, the Portsman who, in Richard II’s reign (1377-99), held land in the east Kent hundreds of Ringslow and Faversham. (E179/225/11, 21, 22)'.  See the above reference to a Bolle holding land in Ringslow Hundred in 1334.

Thomas Bolle, Jurist for Hundred of Eastry, 1431

Other people on the jury with surnames connected to the Bolles in other references: John Uppedowne, John Petyt. (Feudal Aids in the PRO)

John Bolle's heiress, daughter Joan 1420's-40's, married Thomas Palmer of Canterbury, their son and heir William Palmer, 1480

He died before July 1438, leaving as heir to his holdings in Sandwich his daughter Joan, wife of Thomas Palmer of Canterbury.  ref. (Sandwich Old Black Book (Proceedings of the Corporation of Sandwich 1432-87) f. 43) (preceeding John Bolle info per History of Parliament Online  http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/member/bolle-john)

His holdings included land at Eastry which are also mentioned in a Chancery Pleading (1480-1483) between a William Cok, Gent and William Palmer, the son and heir of John Bolle of Sandwich's daughter Johane.  ref. 

Thomas Bolle of Sandwich, brewer, also holding land in Eastry, 1445

Liber Estriae (The Book of Eastry) contains a list of the tenants of Eastry Manor in about 1445 which included Thomas Bolle of Sandwich, brewer, with land in Feldyrland (Felderland, a farm 1 mile south of Sandwich).  The name immediately preceeding his in the tenant list was a John Palmer of Sandwich, draper and two names after Thomas was a Master Richard Cok of Sandwich (see Chancery Pleading above).

If Joan was John Boles sole heiress in 1438, this Thomas would likely have been John's brother or nephew.  However, the land which Joan brought to her husband may just have been a marriage settlement which John had made in his Will or earlier and his true heir could have been Thomas.  Felderland was in St Peter Sandwich parish.

Henry Bolle of Sandwich, brewer, d. 1463

A Henry Bolle of Sandwich, brewer, died in 1463 and was buried in the Church of St Peter (Sandwich) before the Image of St Mary of Pity.  This indicates a prominent position within his community and his presence in the same Sandwich parish as the preceeding Bolles. 

John Bolle of Sandwich 1485

There is a Deed regarding some land in Sandwich in Serlis Lane with the grange of John Bolle to the north in 1485.  ref. 

The Calendar of Wills and Administrations lists Wills for the following Bolles in Sandwich: Henry Bolle (1463), Isabel Bowell (1487) and Henry Bolle (1533).  These could be very informative.

After the changes to the Cinque Ports Act in 1811 Sandwich became a very important trading centre with strong connections to Ramsgate which came under administration from Sandwich.  A Thomas Bowles was employed by the Customs Office in Sandwich as a boatman in Ramsgate.  I haven't been able to sort out his line much but please see Thomas Bowles, a Boatman of Ramsgate


Anne Bowles of Deale, Kent m. Jeremiah Kelley of Sandwich, Maltster May 17, 1699 Rochester Cathedral.


This site was last updated 10/19/18