Bowles DNA Project
The Bowles Printer/Publishers Families of London
Their were actually two separate and possibly unrelated Bowles families involved in the early print industry in London. Although my theory is that they were related. See my comments below.
Thomas and James Bowles of London: Printers/Stationers
This, perhaps less significant of the two families of printers, consisted of brothers Thomas and James Bowles who operated a Stationers Shop on Newgate Street from 1765 to 1840. They were also connected to the Wace family of London printers. These Bowles brothers came from The Bolles of Abingdon, Berkshire line which was a cadet line of The Bolles of Swineshead. They returned to Berkshire late in their lives and this line did not continue in London. See Thomas and James Bowles: London Stationers
Thomas Bowles, the Founder of a Four Generation Dynasty of Printers/Publishers in London
This family is really two stories, first the London printing dynasty which lasted 150 years and then became The Bowles of Myddelton House, a line which would eventually include Camilla Parker-Bowles. The London printers are not known to have used The Bolles of Swineshead, Lincolnshire coat-of-arms but the Bowles of Myddelton House certainly did although the basis for their connection to that line is not yet known. My own belief is that this line was related to the above two brothers who also operated a print shop in London. The Bowles of Abingdon, Berkshire are a cadet line of the Bolles of Swineshead but their exact connection has not been found yet either.
The Four Generations of London Publishers
The Bowles of Myddelton House made their fame and fortune starting in the late 1600’s as early leaders in the London engraving, printing and publishing industry.
The earliest known in this line was Thomas Bowles, a printer and publisher of engraved pictures with a shop in his house on the corner of Paul's Alley next to the chapter house in St Paul's Churchyard in London. Examples of his work dated from as far back as 1691 have survived. He retired in about 1712 and turned his business over to his sons. He died in 1721 at which time he was described as "a citizen and joiner of St Gregory by Paul's; he also owned four tenements in London House Yard and a half-share in two houses in Bloomsbury."
Several histories of the London print industry state that Thomas was 'possibly' the son of John Bowles, a joyner (i.e. a carpenter/woodworker) of St. Lawrence Poultry whose Will was proved in 1652. In that will John left all his lands goods and chattels to his wife Katherine, “not a penny to anyone else” and there is no mention of any children. Printers did often apprentice as joyners as the most difficult part of the process was the hand carving of the wooden plates that they would print from but this John is a bit too old to have been Thomas' father.
King James I of
England and VI of Scotland
© National Portrait Gallery, London
by John Faber Jr, printed and sold by Thomas Bowles Sr, after Edward Bower
mezzotint, early 18th century (1649) © National Portrait Gallery, London
His two sons, Thomas (II) and John followed in the family business. Thomas (II) set up his shop in St. Paul's Churchyard (1712-1763). John Bowles had set up shop at Mercer's Hall in Cheapside by 1725 and moved to The Black Horse, Cornhill by 1734. After that shop was damaged by fire in 1766 he relocated to No. 13 Cornhill (1766-1779). His son, Carrington Bowles, worked with him at Cornhill from 1753 until he took over his Uncle Thomas' business in St. Paul's Churchyard in 1764. Carrington operated his business there until 1793 when it was taken over by his son Henry Carrington Bowles and his partner Samuel Carver operating as Bowles & Carver (1793-1830).
One of John Bowles' more impressive works which is of great use even today to family historians is his 1775 Map of London which shows an incredibly detailed map where the streets our ancestors lived on can be located.
While much of their work relied on using artwork borrowed from famous artists and map makers they also produced many original pieces of novelty scenes and political or religious commentary such as these from Carington Bowles in 1780 and 1781.
Note: the illustrations showing NPG on the border are used with permission from The National Portrait Gallery, London. Larger images of these and many other works can be viewed on their site at: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp61969/john-bowles
The Bowles of Enfield, Hertfordshire
In 1799 Henry Carrington Bowles married Anne Garnault, a member of a wealthy Huguenot family connected to the New River Company. Through her he acquired land in Hertford where he built a new great house, Myddelton House. There he established a new line Bowles line which would eventually lead to Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall. For more on this line see The Bowles of Myddelton House.