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

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The Bowles in Carlow town

Back to The Bowles of county Carlow

See also my article A Carlow Family in Canada which was published in the 2009 Edition of Carloviana, the Journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society

The earliest documented date for the Bowles arrival in this area is a deed memorial dated Jan. 19 (registered Jan. 26, 1726) for John Bowles of Carlow, shoemaker, for the lease of his home, shop and small garden on Tullow Street in Carlow town.  The lease was for the term of three 'lives' including the life of "John Bowles first son to the said William Bowles aged about five years". The wording implies that John Bowles Sr. already occupied the property, probably as a renter, and was now purchasing a lease on it. (deed memorial 33778)  From this we don't know who William Bowles was but he was likely John's brother or (less likely) his son.  William's son John Bowles Jr. is listed as his first (eldest) son, aged 5, so he was born about 1720.
We next find John Bowles (probably the Jr.) with a shoe shop at Ballickmoyler, Queen's county, about 5 miles NW of Carlow town some time before about 1740.


Two members of the Bowles of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois family, Joseph and William, lived in Carlow town for significant periods of time in the 1800's.  As the largest urban center near them, some members of the Ballickmoyler Bowles family moved into Carlow town probably for employment opportunities.  About 4 miles away, Carlow was the market town for their region and the largest church for their important family occasions.

The parish records for St. Mary's Carlow (Church of Ireland) include Bowles family births and marriages going back to 1747 but most of the family, possibly all, were living in Ballickmoyler at that time.  The oldest entry indicates that the family was of Killeshin (Ballickmoyler's parish) and I haven't found any further signs of the Bowles in Carlow until much later although there are many in Queen's county (now co. Laois). The parish records do go further back but the Bowles are only mentioned in the register from 1747 to 1775 until they start again in 1808 when Joseph Bowles moved from Queen's county to Carlow town.    See Bowles References in St. Mary's Carlow Church Registers

The story would seem to be that the family settled in Ballickmoyler in the 1740's where there was a small chapel, possibly in their own house, but they attended church in nearby Carlow for larger family events.  Shortly after 1775 these events probably stopped in Carlow as they were then held at a church in Castletown just to the NW of Ballickmoyler.  The existence of this church is not recorded in anything I can find other than a reference in 1801 in which the Bowles were involved in rebuilding the church at Castletown.  They proposed locating the new church in Ballickmoyler where the majority of the parishioners lived but it was decided to rebuild it in Castletown at the site of the old one.  See The Bowles and The Church at Castletown.

Joseph Bowles

Joseph probably moved to Carlow shortly after the United Irish Rebellion of 1798 in which both of the Bowles homes in Ballickmoyler were burned.  Joseph would have been about 18 in 1798 and in training to be a shoemaker and so was not quite ready to go off on his own.  However, a few years later he moved into Carlow town to open his own shoe shop.  His marriage to Jane Feltus in Carlow in 1808 and the subsequent baptisms of his children there document the growth of his family.  Shortly after the twins, William and James, were born in 1827, Joseph decided to move on to Quebec City in Canada to join his brother, John, who was already settled there.  See  Joseph Bowles of Carlow and The Bowles of Quebec City

William Bowles

I'm still uncertain whether William fits into the family tree as Joseph's brother or possibly only a cousin.  William was born around 1800 but these were very turbulent times shortly after the 1798 rebellion and no references to his birth seem to have survived.  One complication is that William was Catholic while Joseph and the majority of the Bowles of Ballickmoyler were Church of Ireland.

However there was a Catholic branch in the family.  There was a William Bowles married to Sarah Moore who baptized a Robert Bowles in the Carlow Roman Catholic Cathedral on June 25, 1774.  This Robert would be a good candidate for our William's father.  I believe William Sr. to have been an Uncle William of Joseph's who had previously settled in Ballickmoyler.  Also, while the Bowles were all gone from Ballickmoyler in the early 1800's, the  1850's Griffiths Valuation of Ballickmoyler lists the former Bowles property there with William Bowles of Carlow as the Immediate Lessor.

Another connection is that, while William did not follow the family occupation as a shoemaker, his son Richard did and moreover may have been connected to Joseph Bowles shoe shop.  William married Mary Donnelly, the daughter of John Donnelly.  There was a John Donnelly who was a shoemaker who ran a shop in Carlow from about 1830 to about 1848.  Joseph Bowles sold his shoe shop in Carlow in 1831.  The question is did he sell it to John Donnelly?

William died in the Carlow Workhouse in 1886 predeceased by his only son, Richard, in 1869.  His passing  marked the last Bowles in Carlow although Richard's widow, Mary Donnelly, is listed in the 1901 Carlow Census as Mary Bowles.  See William Bowles of Carlow and also William Bowles of Carlow's Family Tree.
See Some pictures of Carlow town today


I don't know where or if John Bowles, b. ca. 1856, who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary in Carlow from 1878 until at least 1917 fits in.

This site was last updated 10/19/18