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Surname Origin: This name is of ancient Anglo-Norman origin, and comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "Fugal", meaning fowl. It seems that the early bearers of this name not only "pursued the captured wild fowl", but also sold them, for in its early form the French suffix,"ere", following "fowl", meant an agent or dealer.

19th century distribution of the Fowler surname

Our Fowlers originate from the South West of England and can be traced back to Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset, the birth place of James Fowler in 1771. His mother is recorded as Sarah but unfortunately there is no recorded fathers name. James, who was later described as a 'flax dresser' married Mary Legge of Symondsbury, in Whitchurch Canonicorumin in 1799. They had four children that we are aware of, their second son being Benjamin who was born in 1803. By this time James and Mary had moved from Dorset to Taunton in Somerst.

Ben Fowler was a flax dresser and ostler before becoming a foundry fireman at Edward Whightmans Foundary in Chard. He was to work in the foundary until he was in his 70's. Ben married Hannah Lickey of Cothelstone in 1826 and they had 7 children. Ben outlived Hannah and married again to Mary Pearce in 1867. Ben and Hannah's oldest surviving son was James who was born in Taunton in 1837. James followed his father into the foundry and married Emma Gooding in 1859 and they had two girls before Emma's death. In 1863 James was married a second time to Rebecca Warry. James and Rebecca had five children, their youngest son also being named James Fowler.

By this time the family had moved to Bedford, probably in search of work, and it was here that James (jnr) was born in 1870. After a brief spell in Bedford the family moved again, this time to Nottingham and settled in Sneinton. James married local girl Eliza Peck in October 1891 and they had 7 children.

The Fowler family 1944

Left to right -Percy Peck's wife, Harold Clark, Pat Samples (front), June Drury, Harold Samples, Eliza Clark (nee Peck, formerly Fowler - front)
May Drury (nee Fowler - back), Clara Samples (nee Fowler), Jean Drury (front), Hilda Samples (Horace's wife), Bill Drury, Hilda's mother (Granma Elliott), Percy Peck

James Fowler was a bridge painter and gas fitter and died leaving his wife Eliza with a young family to raise. He was said to have died around 1907 but no record of his death has been found so it is possible that Eliza and James seperated. Eliza was eventually remarried to Harold Clark in 1915 and they brought up their family in Manvers Street Sneinton.

May Fowler, their youngest daughter married Bill Drury. Harry married Lavinia Wileman, Lily married Harry Lee, Clara married Harold Samples and Jack (John Edward) married Annie Hackett and lived in Hutton Street, being bombed out of their home in 1942, they eventually settled in Colwick. Bertie Fowler joined up during the First World War and was killed at Ypres in Belgium in 1917. Horace died at just five years of age in 1913.

Eileen Fowler (d/o Jack Fowler and Annie)

Joan Samples (d/o Clara Samples
nee Fowler and Harold)

Horace (Ron) Samples (s/o Clara Samples
nee Fowler and Harold)

Harold Samples (s/o Clara Samples
nee Fowler and Harold)

Current Research : Further research needed into the Dorset roots of the family. Trying to discover more about James Fowler (b.1870). Have been unable to trace a record of either his birth or death to date.

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September 1, 2014