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Bowles Family History


    The name Bowles is of Saxon and Norman origin. Among the knights who charged with the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings, 1066, was one who is simply in the roles of Battle Abbey as "Bole". As the name Bole, sometimes spelled Bowl, is found among land owners in Normandy previous to the invasion of England, the appearance of the name on the role of Battle Abbey makes the Norman origin as certain as is the Saxon derivation of the name. The name Bole is Saxon for Bowl, and was used to refer to the bole-man who was in charge of the bowl of mead which was passed down the table at the end of the meal. It was his duty to see that the bowl was not upset, mishandled,contaminated or, more important, poisoned. This name later became Bowles. When the Bowles family were granted arms, they chose three gold bowls standing on a light blue field with a silver boar's head emerging from each bowl. Thus one could read at a glance that the arms were borne by Bowles of Swynesheade.

   In 1183 a survey was made by Bishop Hugh De Pudsay of Durham of all of the lands of the see kept in demesne by the tenants of the village. This record was entered in a book called the Bole-Den book. (Den is Saxon for town.) The Bole-Den book fixes indisputably the prominence of the Bowles name in the Palatinate in the latter part of the twelfth century. The supervisor's report of the village of Bole-Den immediately precedes the report of the manor of Wassyngton, the home of the ancestors of George Washington.

   Six years after the compilation of the Bole-Den book, the name of William Bowles appears in Lincolnshire. He was living there in 1189, the year in which Richard Coeur de Lion began to reign. In 1223 Alane Bowles, styled Lord of Swynesheade and of the several manors within the same called Bole Hall, Lincolnshire. Swynesheade, which from this time on appears as a seat of the Bowles race, was a place of some historical importance. It was a town in early Saxon times, and was the scene of a bloody battle with the Danes when they attempted to over-run Lincolnshire. (History of Lincolnshire)

   A cadet branch of the family lived in Scampton at Scampton Abbey. Scampton came into the Bowles family through the marriage of Jane, the daughter of Thomas Lawrence, who married Sir George Bowles. His son, Sir John Bowles succeeded him, was knighted and received a Baronage. His son Sir Robert succeeded him.

   As near as can be determined, the Maryland Bowles have descended from this Scampton line. John Bowles, born in England to Valentine Bowles, was one of the original passengers on the Ark arriving in 1634. Apparently other brothers and at least one sister came to America as they and their families are documented by reference in various wills. Relations among these early children are not clear. There may have been more than one Valentine Bowles and which one had particular children is therefore confused. The line of descendancy starting with George Bowles who  married Lilas Watson is much clearer.



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