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The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and Great Britain

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The Bowles of Kilcooly, co. Tipperary

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Kilkooly Parish is in the NE corner of South Tipperary right on the border with Kilkenny.  The area we are interested in is, a stretch from The Commons to Bawnlea, a 3 mile long stretch of trail in a desolate and isolated part of Kilcooly on the Palatine Road.  Follow that link for some recent photos.  This area had originally been settled by refugees from the German Palatinate State in the mid-1700's.  These settlers gradually moved on to new opportunities and the major landholding family in the area, the Barkers, settled other tenants in their place.  Just a few farm houses and barns are left of the original settlement today.

There are two separate Bowles branches in Canada who can trace their ancestry back to this area. The Bowles of Bawnlea who left there in 1827 and settled in Southern Ontario.  For their story in Canada see The George Bowles Family of Peel County

The second branch, The Bowles of The Commons, which is about 1 mile south of Bawnlea, emigrated to Quebec.  For their story see The John Bowles Family of Valcartier, Quebec.  

 Another Bowles family from The Commons moved to Ballingarry, co. Tipperary and then on to Oola, co. Limerick which provides us with a vital clue pointing to Oola as the origin of the Bowles of Kilcooly.  See The Connection Between The Bowles of Kilcooly and The Bowles of Oola, Limerick.


While it was initially denied by the descendants of both branches in Canada, it seemed obvious that these were descendants of the same family.  The significant difference between the two families was that the George Bowles family were Methodists and became staunch supporters of the Methodist Church in Canada while John Bowles' family were Catholic and helped found an Irish Catholic settlement in Quebec.  However, DNA testing done through the Bowles DNA project has found a familial match between current descendants of both lines and it seems the relationship has been grudgingly accepted.  On the Bowles DNA project page the Bowles of Valcartier are kit # N36565 and the Bowles of Peel are kit # 38140.

Despite the difficulties between the two religions in Ireland over the centuries this two-religions-in-one-family situation was not as unusual as it would seem especially at this particular time.  In the 1600's and the early 1700's many laws were enacted which severely limited the legal rights of Catholics.  However, by the late 1700's these laws had been considerably relaxed or were just not being enforced.   An Irish middle-class was forming which saw itself as Irish first of all and then as either Protestants or Catholics.  For the first time in centuries the two religions could legally inter-marry.  This lead to a rise in National spirit which spanned the religions in a common opposition to the English foreigners who controlled their government.  This in turn led to the failed United Irish Rebellion of 1798 after which the government broke up that developing union by choosing to ignore the Protestant role in the rebellion and instead blaming it only on Catholic activists.   The anti-Catholic laws were re-enacted and were once again strictly enforced.  The Catholics responded by organizing increasingly active underground resistance groups while the Protestants, under the protection of the Government and now even more privileged than before, became the targets of the Catholic organizations.  In turn the Protestants organized to protect themselves resulting in the establishment of the Orange Lodge and the firm entrenchment of sectarian barriers which resulted in ever increasing violence between the groups.  By the 1820's South Tipperary was one of the main areas where confrontations between the groups occurred on a regular basis. 

Extract from a letter published in the Times of Aug. 18, 1810

Neighbours were now at war with each other and even families were split apart as apparently occurred with the Bowles.

For their stories see The Bowles of The Commons and The Bowles of Bawnlea



In following the departure of the Bowles families from Bawnlea and The Commons I found out quite a bit about both families from local sources.  I also found that one Catholic Bowles family from The Commons did not emigrate to Canada with the others but instead remained in Ireland.  In fact they moved to Oola, co. Limerick where a Catholic Bowles line had lived for a generation before the Bowles lines appeared in Kilcooly.  The Oola line had descended from a Protestant Bowles line of the mid to late1700's so it's the perfect situation for a common origin of the two Kilcooly lines.  I have long thought that the Kilcooly Bowles would connect back to the Oola Bowles and this find goes a long way towards confirming it.

See The Bowles of Kilcooly's Connection to the Bowles of Oola, co. Limerick

At the same time I found that some of John Bowles of The Commons' brothers and sisters married people with connections to land which had formerly been held by John Bowles of Woodhouse or his immediate neighbours.  Taking a closer look at the Bowles of Woodhouse family tree I did find a gap in the family tree and some parish records in Dublin which would fit into that gap and also which fit nicely with the earliest known Bowles of the Kilcooly line.  These records don't constitute proof just circumstantial evidence of a potential connection which if correct would give the Bowles of Kilcooly a family tree going back to the Boles of Cork in the 1620's. 

See The Bowles of Kilcooly's Connection to the Bowles of Woodhouse for the details.


See also  Sorting Out the Bowles of Kilcooly and Killenaule


This site was last updated 10/19/18