Bowles DNA Project
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Ickham is a village about 5 miles east of Canterbury. There is a good chapter on the history of Ickham in Edward Halsted's The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume 9 (1800)
For a large copy of this map, click on the map to the right or for a much larger copy click here, it may take a while to download.
The earliest Boles reference I have found in Kent is a land agreement dated from 1222 to 1238 signed between Prior John of the Canterbury Cathedral Priory and several other parties concerning an exchange of land in the holding of Ickham. The land is described as bordering the land of Simon Bole to the east. ref. From this document we know that Simon's land was in the field of 'teaghe' in Dominus (i.e. Lord) Reginald de Cornhell's demesne of Cnoldane and bordering the king's highway between Burnes (today's Bekesbourne) and Adisham.
This allows us to locate Simon Boles farm fairly accurately as shown on this map. Other town names mentioned in the land references are also marked on the map.
Another grant from the mid-1200's refers to land in Well in the holding of Ickham including 1/2 acre "with Herlewin's land to north, the land of Simon Boles to south, the land of Eilfred Rochel to east and the King's highway to west." ref.
In 1259, William Ruffus of Ickham granted Ivo, son of Simon Boles, 5 virgates of land (about 75 acres) in the ‘Cotmannevelede’ field at Ickham. This land is described as “lying next to the forestall of Ickham with the King’s highway to the south and the priory’s land to the north”. ref.
There are two relevant grants from 1265, one from William son of Ellen of Littlebourne to Mgr. Omer, of Canterbury, clerk, son of William of Borden assigning land at Lee has Ivo Boles as a witness as well as several of the people who signed his father’s grant. ref. The other from Hamo de Else, son of William to the Canterbury Cathedral Priory involving land at ‘Elfeghestone’ in Adisham is witnessed by a John Bolle Sampson of Cooting and a Thomas (Thomas Sampson in another reference) of Cooting. ref. Cooting was also in Adisham parish just south of Simon Boles land. The Bole's neighbour naming a child after a John Bolle would indicate that there was a John Bolle of some influence connected to this area as well.
In 1271, a grant for some Priory land has several witnesses including Ivo Boles ref. while a 1283 grant for land just south of Ivo's land has witnesses including John Bolle again. ref. The Boles and Bolle spellings are quite consistent between the two but it’s hard to know, given the lack of importance of family names at that time, whether that is important. If Ivo Boles is the son of Simon Bole then perhaps so is John Bolle but possibly John was no relation of Simon and Ivo's at all. Please see Middle English origins of the Boles Name
This map shows the approximate location of Ivo Boles farm.
Starting in 1293, there are many documents witnessed by a Richard Boles (generally Richard le Boles in documents signed in 1297 and on). These documents also involve land in Ickham mostly right around Ivo's farm.Reference 1 land at Cherlefeld, SW of Ivo Reference 2 land N of Bramling, south of Ivo Reference 3 land in Cherlefeld (Chert field) again Reference 4 land in Cherlefeld again Reference 5 for Christina of Wingate, east of Ivo Reference 6 probably signed in Canterbury Reference 7 land at Seaton, north of Ivo Reference 8 land south of Seaton, very near Ivo Reference 9 land at Seaton Reference10 land around Seaton Reference11 a meadow lying in Ickham parish Reference12 land around Seaton The documents mentioning Simon run from about 1230 to about 1250, documents mentioning his son Ivo run from 1259 to 1271. The Richard Boles documents run from about 1293 to 1329 and indicate he was most often right in the area of Ivo's farm. It's likely but not proven that Richard was Ivo's son and inherited his land around 1290. Richard's son William Boles will also be connected to this land in 1354/55 (see below). A Henry Bolle was holding land in Westgate, Canterbury, Kent by 1274 and a Richard Bole held land just west of Westgate at or near Chartham as early as 1334, a likely connection to this family as seen below. A document dated in the early 1300's, and so must have been soon after Richard witnessed the above document in 1329, is from John, Stephen and William, the sons and heirs of Richard de Boles and relates to their selling off over 100 acres of land in Ickham but the legal description is not complete enough in the catalogue summary of the grant to say just exactly where. ref. Seals on this document (Note: the land was 3 1/2 virgates, 1 acre; a virgate was about 30 acres so that is a very big area of land) It's interesting that three of the four witnesses who signed the grant were "of Chartham" where we find the next Boles records in Kent. See The Bolles of Chartham John must have been the eldest of Richard's three sons as the Lay Subidy of Kent for 1334/35 lists John Boles as a landholder in the Hundred of Downhamford which included the parish of Ickham. ref.
While William is mentioned again in later records, there are no further references for Stephen or John le (or de) Boles in Kent which may mean they they were in occupations and did not own land or they may have not settled in Kent. There were a Stephen and John le Bole who appeared together in Bedfordshire records from 1316 to 1341 who may well have been them. See The Bowles of Bedfordshire.
William appears in three more documents regarding Ickham. In 1354, he exchanges some land in Ickham just north of Thomas Baa's land (just north of Ivo's former farm) and then witnesses the sale of his former land. ref. ref2. ref3. The third document is significant as it gives Williams occupation as 'clerk'. He witnessed one more document in Ickham as a clerk in 1355. ref. After that there are no further references to Boles in the Ickham area although the land they were on was referred to as 'le Bolles' in 1360 ref. and as 'le Bolles tenement' (but owned by John atte Berton) in 1425 ref. with the pasture beside it called 'le North bolles'. ref. The Boles land has John Vincent on it in 1467 and the lane going by his property is called 'Bolestrete'. ref.
The last grant is also interesting as the land next to the old Bole's land is described as "of the gift of William Petyt and John Petyt, sons and heirs of John Petyt of Shalmsford". Shalmsford is a small community SW of Chartham where we next find our Boles family in Kent from about 1401. William Petyt also bought some land from Henry Bole of the Boles of Chartham family in 1456. ref.
A Henry Bolle had been a landowner in the Hundred of Westgate, Canterbury as early as 1274 when he was one of only twelve land holders listed in the Hundred Roll of Kent of 1274/75. The next oldest reference that I can find, the Kent Lay Subsidy of 1334/35, lists a very prosperous Richard Bolle and Bartholomew Bolle in that same Hundred of Westgate.
I believe that there was a connection between the Boles of Ickham and the Bolles of Westgate although either could be a branch of the other, there are too few references surviving from this period to be certain. However, the Ickham line sold out sometime after 1355 and moved to Chartham where they bought land and settled for the next 150 years.
See The Bolles of Chartham for the next chapter of The Boles of Ickham.
The only later reference even close to Ickham would be the Will of Thomas Bolle of Patrixbourne in 1531 (Prerogative Court of Canterbury PRC3/8/7 AD )