Bowles DNA Project
Back to The Origins of the Bowles Name
There were certainly many independent origins for the different branches of Bowles, Boles, Boals, Bolds etc. living in England today and which have spread all over the world. These are ancient lines so it's unlikely we will find records to prove many of their origins. DNA testing may eventually help us to sort out some of the major branches.
Until recently the best documented case for a Norman root for the Bowles was thought to be as stated in the section on the Boyle family in 'The Norman People and their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America' by Henry S. King and Co. published in London in 1874 which is available online here. While it primarily refers to the Boyle ancestors it does quotes several sources for Boels references. See The Norman Origin of the Bolles of Swineshead, Lincolnshire for how that claim does not hold up under closer examination.
In her Preface she compares the various lists of names in the Battle Abbey Roll that had been recorded by five previous authors who examined the same original document. The difficulty in transcribing 11th century Latin text is illustrated by the variety of names listed for the same entry. Examining her lists we find that Holinshed’s transcription of the Roll lists a Boels while Duchesne’s lists a Bools. Her account of Leland’s Roll has nothing close other than a Bussy and a Buscel, but these are other known Norman families. In Dive’s roll she lists a Roger de Bulli. Lastly she adds 'NAMES ADDED TO THIS LIST BY M. DE MAGNY IN THE 'NOBILIAIRE DE NORMANDIE' in which there are no names which could be the ancestor of our Bowles. Unfortunately their lists cannot be compared with the original roll as it no longer exists, it was possibly burned in the Great Fire of 1793.
Note for later reference that Holinshed, Duchesne and Roll all miss one prominent Norman knight who is included in Leland's Roll as Vipount and by de Magny as Guillain de Vieux-Pont. This knight's descendants will play a prominent roll in the early Bowles history.
The Duchess then borrows from the book The Norman People for her genealogical notes for many of the Norman families listed including this for the Boels:
"Boels: from Boelles, or Buille, now La Buille, near Rouen. Osbert de Boel was of Lincoln, 1138 (Mon. ii. 326). Osbert de Boelles, 1165, held lands in Devon (Liber Niger): Lambert de Boelles in the Eastern Counties (Ibid). The family afterwards appears in Bedford, Warwick, Southants, Stafford, Rutland, and Salop. In the latter, William di Buels (descended from Helias de Buel, living temp. John) sold estates in 1290 to Robert Burnel, Bishop of Bath (Eyton, Salop). His son William and his family settled at Hereford, and hence sprung Ludovick Buel, or Boyle, of Hereford (Harl. MS. 1545), ancestor of the Earls of Cork, Burlington, Orrery, Shannon, and other great houses."—The Norman People.”
While she used these references to document her claim that these were the ancestors of the Bolles of Swineshead, a closer look at the references only provides several connections to Ernold de Builli and none at all to the Bolles of Swineshead. See Boels References in 'The Norman People' for my comments on these references.
See also my summary of Possible Bowles Ancestor References in the Domesday Book of 1086
I believe I can make a good case for Ernold de Builli being the sole demonstrable Norman ancestor of some of the current Bowles lines in England.