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Thomas Bowles, Deputy Treasurer of Parliament's Army in Ireland

Back to The Bowles of Dublin

See also The Thomas Bowles of Dublin Family Tree

Thomas Bowles arrived in Ireland with the English Parliament's invasion of Ireland in 1649 which was led by Oliver Cromwell.  Likely he arrived with the smaller army of administrators that followed the fighting forces to set up the new government but he may actually have served in Cromwell's army as one reference refers to him as Captain Boules. 

Bowles or Boules?

The earliest original sources give Thomas' surname as Bolds, Boulds or Boules.  Only the transcribed records, mostly made in the late 1800's, show him as Bowles but that may have been based on the transcriber's knowledge that Thomas' children and subsequent generations were generally recorded as Bowles.  Alternatively his family may genuinely have used the Bowles spelling even before he came to Ireland where the Bowles name was unknown but where the Bould name was.  In this period very little attention was paid to the correct spelling of surnames and frequently clerks tended to write down whatever they thought a name sounded like.  In balance though I think it more likely that the Bowles spelling was correct and the clerks had made the errors.  For a more detailed look of this question see Captain Thomas Boulds or Bowles of Dublin

For Now - Bowles

His parents are unknown so far but, based on the common practice for naming children in that period (eldest son after father's father, eldest daughter after mother's mother, second son after mother's father, second daughter after father's mother although the tradition for the daughter's names was not as strictly adhered to) they were possibly a Thomas and Hester Bowles of somewhere in England.

The Deputy Treasurer-at-War for Ireland During England's Civil War

In 1642 the English Parliament had rebelled against King Charles I and had seized control of England by 1645.  Parliament appointed Sir John Wollaston as Treasurer at War with Captain John Blackwell as his Deputy in 1647.  In 1649 Parliament executed King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell was put in charge of invading Ireland.  Following his successful campaign Parliament appointed a new government to run Ireland including Thomas Bowles as the Deputy Treasurer-at-War for Ireland (Deputy to Treasurer-at-War Wollaston) who relocated himself from England to Ireland that same year (as shown below). I don't know yet which Bowles line Thomas was from but he may have had a personal connection to Wollaston which might be helpful in identifying his origin in England.  Wollaston was still Treasurer-at-War for the Commonwealth in 1652 but around December he was 'discharged' or he 'laid down his Commission' and John Blackwell and William Leman were appointed as joint Treasurers-at-War.  They were immediately instructed to receive 28,000£ from Sir John Wollaston which had been approved a year earlier and to have it sent to Ireland for the Commanders-in-Chief of their forces. 

Apparently Bowles was not happy with this change as in February 1653 note the Commissioners for Ireland wrote to the new Treasurers-at-War that Thomas was refusing to perform his functions as he claimed that his power and instructions had ceased with the previous Treasurer's discharge.  The made it very difficult for the Commissioners to meet the pressing needs of their armed forces in Ireland.  The Treasurer paid the army's bills and sent their Commanders money for their soldier's salaries but Thomas was stating that he had no authority of his own to issue funds from Parliament's Treasury. 

The problem seems to have been that only Treasurer Wollaston and his Deputy Blackwell had originally been appointed by Parliament.  Thomas had then been appointed by Wollaston as his Deputy for Ireland.  However, with Wollaston discharged and Blackwell and Leman appointed to replace him, Thomas was unsure of his position.  Finally in July 1653 Parliament formally appointed Blackwell and Richard Deane as joint Treasurers-at-War, created the positions of Deputy Treasurers for Scotland and for Ireland, specified their salaries and a budget was set under which the office was going to be run (see the Bill at the bottom of this page).  

While Thomas appears to have not been too happy with working for Blackwell in 1652, a few years later there was another connection between the Blackwell and Bowles families in England when John Blackwell's niece Anne married another Thomas Bowles at St James Duke's Place, London in 1681. As we have not yet traced this Thomas back to his family in England I don't know whether that was the same Bowles line.   See The Blackwell Family Tree

Needing money to pay their troops and seeking to gain the greatest possible advantage from their occupation of Ireland an act was passed in Sept. 1653 for "the satisfaction of Adventurers in Ireland and arrears due to soldiery there and other debts and for the encouragement of Protestants to plant and inhabit Ireland."  In return for their financial support, English investors were allocated lands in Ireland which had been seized from the Catholic Irish and Old English landholders who had originally rebelled against the King and then had resisted Parliament.  According to C. H. Firth, the Treasurers-at-War in England were able to send £1,491,580 to Ireland and a further £1,942,548 was raised in Ireland itself between July 1649 and November 1656. ref.  All of that would have had to pass through Thomas Bowles for distribution.

Despite that huge responsibility he was still in just a salaried position with no right to participate in the massive land grab which he was helping to administer.

On June 12, 1655 Thomas Bowles, John Burniston and John Tuttle petitioned the Protector (i.e. Oliver Cromwell) that "Petitioners transplanted themselves on the public account at great expense, and since their arrival were added to the Commissioners (of the Treasury by an Act of Parliament dated Aug. 25, 1652) ... for stating accounts for the army" but that "no provision is made for them in the Act" and asking that they may be enabled to plant in Ireland (i.e. that they receive land grants as compensation for their work).   Note: the expenses for Thomas' relocation from England to Ireland 'on the public account at great expense' were probably the £1600 debt from 1649 that Thomas was ordered to repay in 1664 (see below).

On Dec. 4, 1656 the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland petitioned Parliament on Thomas Bowles' behalf to compensate 'those commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament to state the accounts of the army in Ireland ... for satisfying their arrears in land ... for their good service."  On that same day the Protector and Council ruled that the three petitioners should be paid their arrears by "Lands given them to be given as they are given to officers and soldiers."  He appears to also have established himself in business as in May 1655 he was one of the residents of Dublin who petitioned Parliament to end customs duties between Ireland and England. (Ireland Under the Commonwealth by Robert Dunlop, Vol. I)  In 1656 Thomas (as Boles this time) and his brother-in-law, Walter Plunkett, were appointed Commissioners for the Assessing, Levying and Collecting the assessment (a tax)  in the city and county of Dublin.

The Bowles and the Plunketts

Note: the name Plunkett appears sometimes with one 't' and sometimes with two, apparently randomly during this period.  Shortly after these events a general guideline developed, but was often ignored, that a Plunket was a Protestant while a Plunkett was a Catholic.  I have used Plunkett generally on this family history page as most of my research sources have used Plunkett.  I've used Plunket on their family tree page as I've attempted to trace only Walter Plunket's Protestant line.

Around 1650/51 Thomas married Mary Plunkett, the sister of Walter Plunkett of Rathbeale, co. Dublin.  Cromwell arrived at Dublin with his troops in August 1649 so if Thomas arrived as a stranger shortly after that his marriage must have proceeded rather quickly as their first born was baptized in April 1652. 

She was a brilliant choice as his wife.  The Plunketts were a mostly Catholic old-Irish family who were leaders of the 1641 Irish Rebellion which had taken back much of Ireland from the British and they had been leaders of the provisional government of Ireland, the Kilkenny Confederation, since 1642.  They are sometimes stated to be of old-English stock but they were in Ireland already when the English first landed in 1169 and were possibly descendants of one of the Viking settlements in Ireland. Oliver Cromwell's principle goal in 1649 when he landed with his army was to take the control of Ireland back by destroying the Kilkenny Confederation.  That he did, many of the Plunketts were killed while others fled to the Continent leaving their estates to be re-assigned to officers and investors who had supported Parliament's invasion.  But Walter Plunkett was from a Protestant branch of the family who were Royalists nevertheless and had also resisted Parliament.  Walter's both parents and two siblings are in the burial register of St Johns Dublin in July/August 1650.  Of their large family I can only find references for Walter and his sister Mary surviving.

Clearly Walter and Mary should still have been still seen as enemies of Parliament but possibly because in order to establish a new government in Ireland it was necessary for Parliament to end the fighting and establish new relations with the remaining Irish leaders.  Walter was still stripped of his estate but was appointed to the important position of Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas, a position previously held by his father William.  To be strictly analytical about this event, by marrying Thomas, the highest officer in Parliament's Treasury in Ireland, she was making an alliance that would help to put the Plunkett's in good stead with Parliament.  For Thomas, a marriage to the powerful and royalist Plunkett family would help to protect him should royalty be restored despite his role at a senior level with Parliament.

That's how it turned out, when King Charles II returned to power in 1660 he knighted Walter Plunkett and returned the family's estate to him as a reward for his loyalty to the Crown.  Walter was specifically mentioned in the Royal Gratitude clause of the Settlement Act of 1665 and in 1668 the King pardoned him 'for misdemeanours that may have happened in the execution of the office of Prothonotary of the Common Pleas, in Ireland' and again confirmed him to that office.

This marriage would be very providential for the Bowles several years later.  When The Right Hon. Sir Walter Plunkett died in 1702 without an heir, his only son having pre-deceased him, his title and estate devolved to his grand-nephew, Plunkett Stowell, the son of his sister Mary's daughter Hester Bowles and husband William Stowell.  Plunkett Stowell then adopted the surname Plunkett in 1708 in order to inherit and so became Plunkett Plunkett. See The Plunketts of Rathbeale Family Tree.  Thomas and Mary also had at least one son, also named Thomas who would carry on the family name in Dublin.  See Thomas Bowles Jr and Family of Dublin

Thomas Bowles in Ireland After the Restoration

As matters were falling apart for Parliament in 1660, Captain John Blackwell had his role as Treasurer-at-war terminated on Feb. 2.  Upon Charles II return, Blackwell was stripped of his family's lands including his Mansion House at Mortlake and was forbidden to ever hold any position in England and Wales.  He lived for a while in Dublin but then sailed in 1684 to the American colonies where he rose in authority until he was appointed Governor of Pennsylvania in 1688.  See John Blackwell's Connection to Thomas Bowles

Thomas Bowles' fortunes would also have declined with the restoration of the monarchy, certainly he would have lost his position and possibly the land awarded to him as part of his salary.  In August 1660 an Arthur Annesley, Esq. was appointed to Thomas' position as Deputy Treasurer-at-War in Ireland.

All Commissioner's appointments would also have been immediately cancelled with many arrested and put on trial.  Their punishment was not pre-determined only by their role in supporting Parliament but by many factors including other family connections and Charles II's need to solidify his support, pardoning some of his worst but influential enemies upon receiving their oaths of fealty to him.  Likely the fact that Thomas' brother-in-law was the Right Hon. Sir Walter Plunkett, was enough to protect him from anything more than the loss of his position. 

In 1664 Thomas was still in Ireland as in that year he was called before the Dublin Council and was found 'to be indebted in the sum of £1600 as appears by the accounts given in the year 1649'.   As shown above, in the petition that Thomas Bowles and two others had sent to Oliver Cromwell in 1655  they stated that they had "transplanted themselves on the public account at great expense".  That would have been in 1649 so Thomas had received a large compensation payment for the expenses he incurred while moving his household from England to Iteland in 1649 in order to take up his post as Deputy Treasurer-at-War for Ireland. In 1664 with Royalty re-installed again that payment from the public purse (which was now Charles II's Treasury) and even Thomas' appointment to the Treasury position had been made by a usurper's illegal government.  Thomas had been removed from the job with the Restoration in 1660 but he was still well established in Ireland with a landholding in Wicklow, married to the sister of a prominent Royalist (who had been knighted by Charles II in 1660 for his loyalty to the Crown) and raised a family.  As his sons were just young children at this time but would later be in the merchant trade it's likely that Thomas was also in that trade.  Possibly even while he was in his Treasury post as mentioned above, in May 1655 he was one of the residents of Dublin who petitioned Parliament to end customs duties between Ireland and England.

It appears that the Dublin Council's view was that he should pay those relocation expenses back as they had not been paid out to the public's benefit. 

Colonel Roger Burges then petitioned the King that “Thomas Bowles, Deputy Treasurer of the Army in Ireland at the time of usurpation, owes £1600 as appears in the accounts for 1649, and should pay.”  In response Charles II ordered an investigation into Thomas' finances.  The National Archives in London have a letter from the King to Lord Ormond instructed him to conduct "an inquiry to be made into certain debts alleged to be due to the Crown in Ireland by Thomas Bowles [Employed as Deputy-Treasurer of the Army in Ireland, under the Usurpers]" ref.  The most likely outcome from that inquiry would be the loss of his lands to the Crown only in 1664.  There are landholder records from this transition period so it should be possible to establish where his land was or at least in which county(s).  Unfortunately I don't have access to them.

One of Charles II's first steps after his return was to levy a poll-tax on his citizens in order to refill his depleted Treasury.  This was done for Ireland by a Poll-Money Ordinance in 1660 and again in 1661.  This ordinance levied a tax on every landholder in Ireland and appointed a new set of Commissioners to collect the tax and to forward it on to Arthur Annesley, Esq. as the new Deputy Treasurer of Ireland who had replaced Thomas in 1660.

The Poll-Money Ordinance of 1660 lists the commissioners appointed for the various counties.  The list of commissioners for Wicklow includes only 26 names including a Thomas Bolles.  The list of Commissioners authorized to collect the poll-tax in Wicklow in 1661 includes 35 names including a Thomas Bowls.  In the 17th century little attention was paid to the correct spelling of surnames.  There are many other spelling variations between the 1660/1661 lists such as Cromwell Winkfield/Cromwel Wigfield (Wingfield would be correct), John Humfreys/John Humphreys, Richard Bulkley/Richard Buckley etc. so a Commissioner recorded as Thomas Bolles or Bowls in Wicklow would still be our Thomas Bowles.  This would have been some of the land awarded to him after Parliament's ruling in 1656 that he should be awarded land as compensation for his service.

However that likely ended when his £1600 debt to the state was investigated in 1664-5.  No doubt he would have had to sell much or all of his land to be able to repay it. 

See Thomas Bowles Jr. and Family of Dublin for the continuation of this line and The Thomas Bowles of Dublin Family Tree


Could he Have Been Thomas Boles of Cork?

It has been suggested that this Thomas Bowles may be the same person as Thomas Boles of Cork.  However, this Thomas clearly relocated himself from England to Ireland after Cromwell's conquest in 1649 in the roll of Deputy Treasurer-at-War for the army while Thomas Boles of Cork is well documented in Cork from 1639, he was a merchant at Cork (city) in 1649 and for a period after that.  In 1651 Mr Thomas Bowles and Mr William Hodder accepted a shipment of linen cloth from Bristol to them in Cork.  In 1655 he baptized a daughter, Sara, at the Holy Trinity Church, Cork City.  They were clearly not the same person but they may have had some contact officially.  Thomas Boles' brother William was one of the officers of a company raised from amongst the citizens of Cork who petitioned the Commission in October 1657 for back pay due the 6 companies which served under Col. John Hodder in Cork.  Their situation would have been heard by this Thomas Bowles as the Commissioner responsible for the army's pay.


Reference for the Re-Appointment of John Blackwell as Treasurer-at-War and for a Deputy-Treasurer-at-War for Ireland in 1653

This act re-appointed John Blackwell and established his staffing levels and the budget he had available to run his department.
House of Commons Journal Volume 7: 26 July 1653

Pages 289-290

Tuesday, the 26th of July, 1653.

Army Treasurers.

COLONEL Clerk reports from the Committee of the Army, A List of the Number and Qualities of the Persons employed by the present Treasurers at War.

A List of the Numbers and Qualities of the Persons employed by the present Treasurers at War, for the Management of the Trust committed to them in relation to the receiving the Monthly Assessments, and other Monies raised in England, for Pay of the Forces raised by Authority of Parliament for the Service of this Commonwealth in England, Ireland, and Scotland, together with the yearly Salaries allowed to them by the said Treasurers, out of their Allowance of Three thousand Pounds a Year; viz.

£. s. d.
Two Cashiers, each by the Year, One hundred Pounds 200 - -
One Accomptant, by the Year 60 - -
Two Tellers of Money, each Sixty Pounds 120 - -
One Door-keeper, or Messenger, and Teller, upon Occasion 40 - -
One Deputy in Scotland, at 243 6 8
One Assistant to him, at 121 13 4
One Deputy in Ireland, at 273 15 -
One Assistant to him, at 121 13 4
One Clerk to him, at 91 5 -
Total by the Year is Per me John Blackwell. 1,271 13 4
Memorandum: There are some other incident Charges: Viz. For the Office, and Charges of fitting and repairing That; as also for Fire, Candles, Books, Paper, &c. which for the last Year, ending the First of January 1652, amounted to about 150 - -
Total £. 1,421 13 4

Army Committee, &c.

The House resumed the Debate upon the Bill for appointing a Committee for the Army, and Treasurers at War.

The Question being put, That the Salary of the Treasurers at War, shall be after the Rate of Five-and-twenty hundred Pounds by the Year;

The House was divided.
The Yeas went forth.

Major Gen. Harrison, Tellers for the Noes: 54.
Captain Howard, With the Noes,
Mr. Strickland, Tellers for the Yeas: 44.
Colonel Clerk, With the Yeas,

So it passed in the Negative.

Resolved, That twelve hundred Pounds shall be the Salary for the Treasurers for the Army, for Six Months.

Resolved, That Captain John Blackwell the younger, shall be one of the Treasurers at War, for these Six Months.

Resolved, That Captain Richard Deane shall be the other Treasurer at War, for these Six Months.

Resolved, That Mr. James Phillips be added to the Committee of the Army.

Resolved, That Captain Richard Price be added to the Committee of the Army.

The Clause enabling the Committee to have Power to alter or add to Commissioners, Assessors, &c. from the Word "fit," in the last Line of the Third Folio, to the Word "and," in the Fourth Line of the Fourth Folio, was read.

The Question being put, That that Clause do stand in the Bill;

It passed in the Negative.

Resolved, That this Bill, thus amended, be ingrossed.


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