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

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The Norman Origin of the Bolles of Swineshead?

Back to The Norman Origin of the Bowles Name or The Bolles of Swineshead Parish

Note: this page was originally intended to document their Norman origin but as the proofs given in various sources fell apart under closer examination and as more was learned about The Roots of the Bolles of Swineshead their Norman origin became much less likely.

The Bolles of Lincolnshire

The Medieval Mosaic web site has a detailed summary of the Norman origins of the Bolles of Lincolnshire (see the chapter labelled Boels about 2/3 of the way down the page) which I will extract here in case that web page goes away:

"from Bolies, 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."

Note — the above paragraph is borrowed from The Norman People and also appears verbatim in ‘The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages, in three volumes’ by The Duchess of Cleveland; London 1889

The genealogy of the Boyles, however, only goes back to this Ludovick, who lived under Henry III.; and their coat of arms is as different as it is possible to be from that of the Boelles or Bolles, so long resident in Lincolnshire. The Boyles bore 'Party per bend crenelle Argent and Gules'; the Bolles bore 'Azure out of three cups Or as many boar's heads couped Argent'.

See my The Norman People page for an examination of these references

This site is just one of many instances where the Bolles of Swineshead have been stated to have Norman ancestry.  In every case I've examined, the only 'proof' given is some variation of the above quote. 

Other References

Battle Abbey Roll (1066)

I searched a couple of databases listing names in the Battle Abbey Roll and found Boels and Bools, some possible variations of Bowles.  This does not match with the above but it should have been mentioned in those references as they almost certainly refer to Roger de Busli, the Lord of Busli or Bully, who did indeed accompany William the Conqueror in 1066.

Domesday Book (1086)

Roger de Busli features in many references and there is one entry for the name Bole in the Domesday Book of 1086.  This book was drawn up to document all the Norman and the remaining Saxon land holdings of the times and this particular entry is for a Saxon priest named Bole.  In other sources he is sometimes called Bolle or Bulla.  See Bolle References in the Domesday Book

There is also one mention of a place, Bole, on the border of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

Information about Bole from an 1853 White’s Directory

Bole is a small village and parish on the west bank of the Trent, 2 miles south-west of Gainsborough, containing about 220 inhabitants and 1,163 acres of land, mostly a strong clay, except on the Trent bank, where it is a rich loamy marsh. Owing to the river having changed its ancient course, about 110 acres of land which adjoin this parish, are in Lincolnshire, and is the property of Sir Charles Anderson, of Lea Hall. The manor and rectory of Bole form a prebend for the maintenance of a prebendary in York Cathedral, but Lord Wenlock, the lord of the manor, is lessee of the prebendal lands and rectorial tithes. The great tithe is redeemed, except on a few small freeholds, and the vicarial tithe amounts to about £120 per annum. Lord Wenlock is owner of all the land except about 50 acres.


This site was last updated 12/22/19