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

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The Bowles of Bawnlea, Kilcooly parish, co. Tipperary

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Many Bowles families emigrated to Canada over the years but the one which possibly had the biggest impact on events in Canada were The Bowles of Bawnlea.  Charles Bowles and his family of Bawnlea left Ireland to settle in Ontario, Canada in 1827. His parents, brother David and sister Rose joined him there three years later.  Many of his descendants, which included the Prime Minister of Canada and Nobel prize winner, The Hon. Lester Bowles Pearson, had a significant influence on their new country.  See Notable Members of The Bowles of Peel County

Bawnlea was a largely German Palatinate settlement in Kilcooly parish.  Among the Anglo Irish who also settled there were George Bowles, whom I believe was from The Bowles of Crohane line.

 The first Palatine settlers started to arrive there in 1773.  One of the first was an Andrew Young who is listed at Bawnlea in the List of Protestant Freeholders in Tipperary for 1775-76.   

There is a memorial stone for a John Young in the Kilcooly cemetery which reads: 'Erected by Elizabeth Young in memory of her husband John Young. Died 1823 aged 69.'  John Young,  born about 1754, would likely have been Andrew's son or a younger brother.

George Bowles married Barbara Young in about 1795 in either Bawnlea or Lower Crohane.  Barbara Young's parent's were possibly John and Elizabeth Young of Bawnlea. 

Note: the Freeholders List from 1776, as printed in W.G. Neely's Kilcooley: Land and People in Tipperary published in 2005 by the Slieveardagh Rural Development Centre  includes an Ambrose Young at Ballyphillip (Lower Crohane parish) as well as the Andrew Young at Bawnlea.   However, that is incorrect.  The original handwritten register has Ambrose Going at Ballyphillip not a Young.

George and Barbara had a son Charles about 1797. 

The 1826 Tithe Applotment Book lists  George and Charles Bowles holding land in Bawnlea (or Bawnreagh), Kilkooly parish, which technically doesn't necessarily mean that they lived there although they probably did.  It also shows the Widow Young (that would be Elizabeth Young whose husband John had died in 1823 as mentioned above) with a small holding and a James Young and John (Jr.) Young on larger lots nearby.

The applotment also lists a John Bowles and the widow Bowles sharing a common area with a larger group in the Kilcooly Commons.  That does imply that they were actually living there. 

All were tenants of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby-Barker, Esquire of Kilcooly.  Barker's sister, Mary Brabazon Ponsonby, was married to Thomas Barton who was the landlord of the Bowles family in Fethard providing a possibility of a connection between the Bowles of Kilcooley and the Bowles of Fethard.  However, nothing further on that possibility has been found.

The road in between Bawnlea and The Commons (or Blackcommon)was known as The Palatine Street and was the location of a German Palatinate settlement. 

The Bowles of Bawnlea were Protestants while the Bowles of The Commons were Catholics but DNA tests done by their descendants in Canada have proven them to be of the same family.  Relations between people of the two religions were already at a low point before the tithe applotment.  In 1826, when all landholders in Ireland, including the Catholics, were assessed an annual fee to be paid directly to their local Protestant Parish Minister for his support and for the maintenance of his church, relations quickly became much worse.  Protests against the tithes were particularly violent in Tipperary and Kilkenny.  Families with members of both religions, such as the Bowles, were torn apart.  In 1827, when the English Parliament was considering a bill that would ease the situation by permitting Irish Catholics to vote in national elections, opponents to the bill organized the signing of anti-catholic petitions throughout England and Ireland for presentation to Parliament.  When the list of the signers of the Anti-Catholic Petition in the Barony of Slieveardagh was published in the newspaper on May 12, 1827 the names included Charles Bowles of Bawnlea and several Bowles in nearby Crohane parish: Charles Bowles Sr., David Bowles, William Bowles and John Bowles.  This is just speculation on my part but as Charles Bowles landlord, Chambre Brabazon Barker, was one of the large estate holders who was strongly opposed to any increased Catholic rights, it's unlikely that Charles had much choice in signing the petition.  Similarily, the Bowles of Crohane's landlord was Guy Luther (or Lowther), Barker's half-sister's son, so they were possibly in the same position.

The family tradition of The Bowles of Peel, Ontario, Canada is that their ancestor, Charles Bowles of Bawnlea, emigrated to Canada via the port of Wexford in May 1827.  It has to be assumed that his departure was connected to the backlash from the signer's Catholic neighbours who were, by far, the majority in Kilcooly.  It's interesting that the four Young brothers, Henry, John, James and Joseph, who also signed the petition and who were almost certainly George Bowles' wife Barbara Young's family, also emigrated to Canada that year.  They settled in Goderich, Ontario.

This was the start of The Tithe Wars which were particularly violent in Kilkenny and Tipperary.  Many of the Catholic tenants refused to pay their tithes to the Protestant church and banded together to protect each other from attempts made by the tithe collectors, backed by the police and military, to force them to pay.

In 1830, again according to family tradition, Charles' father, George Bowles and his wife Barbara and Charles' brother David and sister Rose also left Ireland to join Charles in Peel county.  That would explain why George Bowles, although a Protestant, appears on the Tithe Defaulters List in 1831.  See The Tithe Wars and the 1831 Tithe Defaulters List

The names on the Anti-Catholic Petition have Charles Bowles in Bawnlea and several Bowles including a Charles Sr. and a David at Crohane which is only about 8 miles from Bawnlea.   The settlement at Killenaule was only started in the late 1700's and the Bowles arrived sometime after that but I don't yet know where they came from.  I'm still sorting out the Bowles of this part of Tipperary but this connection to Crohane is interesting.  See The Bowles of Crohane and Sorting Out The Bowles of Kilcooly and Killenaule

 

Bowles of Bawnlea Family Tree

George Bowles b. ~ 1765 Tipperary
m. Barbara Young ~ 1795 (possibly in Kilcooly)
Settled at Bawnlea, Kilcooly
1.  Charles b. ~ 1797 Tipperary (probably in Kilcooly)
m. Nancy Anne Barrie ~ 1824 (probably in Kilcooly)
1.1  Elizabeth (Eliza) b. ~ 1826 Tipperary
Charles, Anne and Eliza emigrated to Canada in 1827; more children born in Canada
2.  Rosannah (Rose) b. Tipperary
followed Charles to Canada in 1830; married in Canada
3.  David b. ~ 1810 Tipperary (probably in Kilcooly)
followed Charles to Canada in 1830; married in Canada
George and Barbara followed Charles to Canada in 1830, he is listed under Bawnlea as a tithe defaulter in 1831.
George d. May 20, 1830 Peel co., Canada (age 65) soon after his arrival
Barbara d. Jan. 18, 1854 Peel co., Canada (age 78)

 


This site was last updated 05/13/20