Bowles DNA Project
Thomas Bowles, a Printer of Dublin
See also Robert Bowles of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois and Dublin for more information on this family
Thomas Bowles was born in 1816, the second son of Robert Bowles, a shoemaker of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois, and Anne Waring, a Quaker woman who had been disowned by the Carlow Meeting for marrying outside her faith. The couple's three children were baptized in the Church of Ireland but following the family's move to Dublin in the 1820's all three children were accepted back into and married in the Quaker faith. It would seem that despite being barred from her faith Anne had remained true to her religion and brought up her children in that belief. Anne successfully appealed the order and was welcomed into the Dublin Friends Meeting in 1833. The Dublin Meeting members list from 1831-40 shows "Robert Bowles, son of (blank) and Anne Bowles, admitted on request, married to H. Wardell and transferred".
By 1833 Robert Bowles had set up a shoemaker's shop at 62 Upper Dorset Street in Dublin where he was probably assisted by his son Thomas. In 1839 Thomas announced that he had purchased the 'old established' draper's firm of Baker & Co. at 65 Upper Dorset Street. I'm not sure which Baker had that shop but Thomas' half-brothers, John and William Baker, had run Baker Brothers and Co., grocers, right next door at 66 & 67 Dorset Street so it was likely a relative of his. There were no further advertisements placed for his new business.
By 1844 Thomas was back in the shoemaker business with a shop on Abbey Street. ref. Slater's National Commercial Directory of Ireland for 1846 lists Robert still on Dorset Street and Thomas Bowles, boot and shoe maker, at 149 Abbey Street, Dublin. Shaw's Dublin Directory of 1850 ambiguously lists Boles & Co. at # 62 Dorset without mentioning Robert and does not list Thomas anywhere. Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory for 1852 lists a James Boal (or Bole), grocer and wine merchant at 62 Dorset Street. It's hard to say whether this is a mistake in the directory, if there actually was an unknown James Bowles in the family who had taken over Robert's shop or possibly the shop had been sold to a completely unrelated James Boal. I have not found any other references for this James so I suspect it might be an error. Thomas is not listed in the directory at all that year.Pass your mouse over any map or clipping on this page for a larger view.
We next find Thomas listed in Thom's 1862 Directory of Dublin as a printer at #12&13 Eustace Street. The books that he published make it clear that his sympathizes were entirely with Ireland.
He is listed as the owner of the building which also housed the offices of the Drapers Assistant's Association and the Draper's Early Closing Association, the Dublin Building Association, the Dublin Commercial Association, the Dublin Office of the Bray Gazette, the United Kingdom Alliance for Suppressing the Traffic of Intoxicating Liquors and the business offices of several solicitors and merchants. This was just down the block from the Dublin Friend's Meeting House at 6 Eustace Street.
The Drapers Assistant's Association and the Draper's Early Closing Association (founded 1859) were very early Union movements to protect the rights of draper's assistants in Dublin. At that time a standard work week was up to the employer and could be 6 days a week and up to 16 hours a day. The Draper's Associations led the movement towards better work conditions. This Address by W. Neilson Hancock to the Dublin Statistical Society in 1860 gives a good description of the situation.
That Thomas would provide their office space, given that his sister Lucy ran a draper's shop in Kingstown and his Baker half brothers had the Baker & Co. Draper's shops in Dublin, Kingstown, Blackrock and Bray; was a testament to the Quakers belief that all people were equal and in the care and consideration they gave their employees.
While the offices of the Bray Gazette were located in his building and Thomas was its printer and publisher he did not own it at first. The Gazette was owned by Richard Powell of Bray from 1861 until 1872 when Thomas took over as the proprietor as well and it became the Kingstown and Bray Gazette and Rathdown Union Advertiser. However, Thomas described it himself as "a losing concern" and it only stayed in business for another 14 months. A year later, he advertised that all outstanding debts to the Gazette were to be paid to him.
Thomas died in 1883 and his wife, Ellen, died in 1886. In 1887 a Bowles on Wellington Quay was selling a Royal Columbrian printer's press. That would be his son, Thomas William Bowles, a registrar of marriages, who lived at #23&24 Wellington Quay.