The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and England 


John Bowles as Rev. Whitty's land agent in 1787

The late 1700’s saw a strong resistance movement develop amongst the Catholic population in Queen’s county.  One of the major sore points was the Tithe Law which had been levied on every tenant in a parish, regardless of their religion, to support the Church of Ireland officials in the parish.  The clergy was able to adjust their own tithe rates in their parishes and so sometimes tried to augment their incomes with steadily increasing rates.  This brought about resistance which sometimes took the form of threatening letters or the nailing up of church doors and frequently a flat refusal to pay the tithes.  This would often result in violence as the church officials attempted to collect the money which they viewed as legally owed to them and which included the right to seize other assets in lieu of payment.

Here is a reference as quoted in Country and Town in Ireland Under the Georges, p. 338-339 (which in turn took the following from the Hibernian Magazine of January 1787)  ref.

This morning the Rev. Archdeacon Whitley, who resides about 5 miles from this town [Carlow] in the Queen’s county, accompanied by 8 of his tenants, went on foot to a distant part of his parish, situated in the mountainous part of the county on the confines of the county of Kilkenny, in order to see a decree executed for the tithe long due and of some importance.  Three of his men had guns, but through the well known humanity of his disposition, he would not allow them to take anything but powder.  After they had seized some cattle, and conducted them part of the way, they were attacked by a multitude armed with scythes, hangers, bayonets, pitchforks etc. who knocked down his people, swore they would hang his agent John Bowles, who was of the party, and whom they compelled to swear that he would never intermeddle with tithes there for the future.  One of the miscreants came behind the Archdeacon himself, struck him on the head and wounded him with some edged weapon, but providentially without any material ill consequence.  Three guns were leveled at once at him, but still all the crowd were not equally wicked – some swords were held up in his defense even by his enemies, who, notwithstanding encouraged the rest to proceed in swearing the men, and had not the attention of the mob been called off to one of the men whom they imagined dead, and whom they suffered to be borne off, the whole party must have gone through the same swearing.  After this exploit the mob retired in triumph, leaving the poor men much abused who fought gallantly in defense of their master, and would not desert him (though they could have effected their own escape by flight), when they found the Archdeacon, who is rather advanced in years, could not keep pace with them.

The Rev. Archdeacon Whitley is almost certainly the Rev. Edward Whitty who was the Archdeacon of Leighlin in 1787 and who lived at Providence Lodge near Ballickmoyler, Queen’s county which is about 5 miles from Carlow town in Queen’s county (exactly as is stated in the article).  This area of Queen's county bordering on Kilkenny would have been within the Diocese of Leighlin and so it would have been Whitty who was entitled to collect the tithes there.

John Bowles was a resident of Ballickmoyler from some time prior to 1750. 


See The Bowles of Canada

See  The Bowles of Ireland

See The Bowles of Great Britain

This page was last updated 10/18/18