John Bowles of Banton, co. Cork
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John Bowles of Bandon, co. Cork

Back to The Boles of Cork
 
Thanks to the Trinity College Library Dublin, the depositions taken after the Rebellion of 1641/42 are now online at:
http://1641.tcd.ie/
 
This has allowed for a more detailed study of the individuals involved in the rebellion and also the people who witnessed it.  For transcriptions of the the depositions connected to the Bowles family please see Bowles Depositions From the Rebellion of 1641/42
 
A previously known deposition for a John Bowles of Bandon did not seem to fit into any known Boles/Bowles tree until further recent examination. 
 
It now seems that John was very likely a younger brother of the (relatively) well documented Boles of Cork family.
 
This is the deposition:
 
Trinity College Library Dublin reference: MS 828, folio 241r
Bandon Aprill 4th 1654

Depositions taken concerning Walter Hussy liueing at Letrough 12 mile from trelee in the County of Kerry in the yeare 1641
 
Jo: Bowles of Bandon in the County of Corke aged about 27 yeares Saith
That hee knewe the said Walter Hussy in actuall armes against the State in the yeare 1642

The Cause of this deponent knowledge is that hee sawe the said Walter Hussy marching with a party of the Irish in the said yeare: 16412

the marke of Jo: [mark] Bowles
Taken before
ff: Wheeller
Two excerpts from the deposition showing the beginning of his statement and his X signature at the end of it:
   
So, John Bowles, age about 27 and living in Bandon, co. Cork in 1654, states that back in 1642 (so when he was about 15 years old) he saw a fellow named Walter Hussey who lived at Letrough, 12 miles from Tralee, co. Kerry in 1641, in 'arms' against the state marching with a party of Irish men in 1642. 
There doesn't seem to be anything there to link him with The Boles of Cork, in fact there are at least 4 arguments against it.  First of all, the Boles brothers had no known connection to Bandon.  In 1642 they were thrown off their farms by the rebels and took refuge in Liscarroll Castle until it was taken by a party of rebels under General Barry and then they fled to Cork city.  (Note: there will be a full account of these events coming to this site in the future) Two, his last name is not even spelt the same as theirs and, three, they would have been somewhat older than him but not old enough for one of them to be his parent. Fourth, the Boles were able to sign their own depositions, in fact Thomas Boles was well educated enough to manage the military supplies at Youghal for Sir Philip Percival while this John could only sign his name with an X.  There doesn't seem to be enough in common here to indicate any relationship.
However:
Argument point 1; their location in different parts of Cork:  Thomas and Richard lived in the vicinity of Liscarroll Castle in north Cork and in fact sought refuge there in 1642 when their area was attacked by General Barry in the Irish Rebellion.  John was 'of Bandon' way out west of Cork city.  Well, John was 'of Bandon' in 1654 when he gave his deposition.  We don't know where he was in 1642 when he saw Walter Hussey in a band of Irish in arms against the State.  All we really know is that John was where Walter was.  So where was Walter in 1642? 
Walter Hussey is stated to be 'of Castle Gregory' in many of the other depositions.  Castle Gregory is in the northeastern half of the barony of Corkaguiny on the Dingle Peninsula of county Kerry.  This half barony is called Letrough and Castle Gregory is about 12 miles from the city of Tralee.  So the Walter Hussey who John saw who was 'liueing at Letrough 12 mile from trelee in the year 1641' was the Walter Hussey of Castle Gregory.  But John saw him in arms in 1642. 
Walter Hussey of Castle Gregory, gent. is mentioned several times in The Irish Massacres of 1641-42 ref. as one of the leading rebels in Kerry. 

In January 1641 the Irish Rebellion broke out in the north of the country.  When word reached Kerry, Florence Mac Carty assumed the title of Governor of Kerry and raised an army commanded by the local Native Irish and Catholic English officers and gentry.  This included Walter Hussey of Castle Gregory on the Dingle Peninsula and a Garret Fitzgerald who were both Captains in this army.  Garret Fitzgerald will be mentioned again below.

The army first laid siege to Tralee Castle, the stronghold of Sir Edward Denny, the principle landholder of county Kerry.  Tralee Castle held out until August and then the Kerry army marched on to join General Garret Barry who had gathered together a force of 7000 at a camp near Adare, co. Limerick.  Together they marched south into Cork collecting men along the way and lay siege to Liscaroll Castle on Aug. 20, 1642 with a force of 12,000 men (7000 foot, 5000 horse) and a train of artillery.  ref. 

It would seem likely that Walter Hussey as a senior officer in the Kerry army would have been in this joint force from Limerick and Kerry.  One of the other Captains from Kerry, Garret Fitzgerald, who was frequently mentioned in connection with Walter Hussey, was killed at Liscarroll. ref. 

The castle surrendered after 13 days on Sept. 2 but Lord Inchiquin arrived with his troops the next day, won a decisive battle and liberated the castle.  The English settlers from this region were then moved south into three centers where the strongest English garrisons were, into Cork city, Youghal and to Bandon.  Thomas went to Youghal to be in charge of the military stores there.  Richard was in Cork city a few years later and we assume he may have gone straight there but Bandon is another possibility. 

In any case, where would John Bowles have more likely seen Walter Hussey in 1642 than at the siege of Liscarroll?  Right where Richard and Thomas Boles were at exactly the same time.

 
Argument point 2;  the spelling of their last names:  Well, we know that in Richard Boles deposition he is recorded as Richard Bowle although he signed his name as Boles.  This is an excerpt from Richard's deposition (folio 1981) as recorded by the clerk at the hearing and another reference to Richard on folio 1982:
 
(note: 17th century script can be hard to read as, compared to our modern script, the 'h' was written somewhat upside down and an 's' appears somewhat like a modern written 'e' with a downward tail, however the 'w' is clear)
In Robert Hayle's deposition he refers to Richard Boles as Richard Bowles (again that is the clerk's interpretation of the verbal statement made):
 
Another clerk recorded Richard as Bowles in Thomas Bettesworth's deposition (folio 316v):
 
The clerk recording William Kingsmill's deposition recorded both Thomas Boles as Bowles or possibly Bowlls (folio 51v):
 
In Giles Busted's deposition both Richard and Thomas Boles were recorded as Bowles (folio 74v):
(the above says "Thomas Bowlls (or possibly Bowles) of Ballynabowll, Richard Bowlls (or Bowles) of Kilgrogan; we know their correct land holdings to have been Ballynaboul and Kilgrogan.)
In fact there is no deposition in which the Boles are recorded as Boles.  Clearly they both signed their name Boles in documents but if John gave his name as John Boles when making his deposition it likely would also have been recorded as Bowles as we see in his deposition.  Therefore the argument that they spelt their names differently is trivial.  It was just the clerks who consistently wrote their names as Bowles.
Argument point 3; their relative ages:  We believe Thomas was born about 1608 at the earliest so he would have been 34 (or less) in 1642.  Richard was born about 1614 so he would have been about 28.  We don't know anything about their brother William's age but he was probably younger than the other two.  Their sister Joanne (or Joan) married Daniel Crone in about 1646 or at least their eldest known child, Daniel Jr., was only born in 1647.  She would likely have been born in the early 1620's. This John would have been born about 1627.  That's not a lot after the youngest known Boles sibling.  But for John to also be in their generation, their common father would have had to have children born over a span of 19 years, from 1608 to 1627.  Is that unlikely or not?  Richard Boles had children from 1642 (his wife was pregnant at Liscarroll in 1641) until 1661 so that’s also a span of 19 years.  Richard's son John Boles of Woodhouse had children over 20 years from 1684 to 1704 with three wives.  So John wasn't that unusually younger than Thomas. Nineteen years younger yes, but there are plenty of other similar examples in the family, enough to state that it was not unusual.
Argument point 4; their relative range of written skills:  Thomas was very well educated.  We don't know that about Richard but he could sign his name.  John could only make an X for his signature. 
Well, assuming that all these Boles came over from England at about the same time or even that Thomas and Richard went over first and John and perhaps others could have joined them later, we believe that the Boles first arrived sometime around 1639 or shortly before.  Thomas would have been about 31 and would therefore have had access to an education in England and had some business experience before leaving for Ireland.  Richard would have been about 25 in 1639 or younger if they arrived earlier.  Richard could sign his name but just barely compared to the fluent signatures at the bottom of the other depositions. 
Here is Richard's signature from his deposition in 1642:  His signature at 28 years old looks like he was tracing it or copying it carefully from another copy.  All stops and starts rather than a smooth signature.  The capital 'R' is almost unrecognizable compared to the examples in the above texts.  ‘Boles’ is two strokes for the “B”, the ‘o’ and ‘l’ are single letters and then the ‘es’ was added.  Very strange way to do it if he had a good education. 
So Richard did not have the skills that Thomas had and coming over at a younger age would explain that. John apparently came over well before he was even 14 if he witnessed the events of 1642 at age 15.  It's uncertain how much education he would received before coming but certainly less than Richard.  His inability to sign his name would not be an indication of a differing background but merely a difference in their education due to their relative age upon leaving England.

That, to me, makes him a very likely candidate to be Thomas and Richard Boles' younger brother.

The question now would be why there was a 15 year old Boles in Cork when we have been assuming that the Boles brothers came over as young adults to seek their fortune in Ireland.  One possibility is that the parents of these siblings remained behind in England and sent the younger boy to join his older brothers once they were established on their farms, which they were in 1639.  The other possibility is that the parents had previously settled somewhere in Cork prior to the elder brothers obtaining their land near Liscarroll.

 

Possible Origins of the Boles of Cork

At this point I'm still assuming that the Boles arrived in Ireland in 1639 or shortly before.  However, if John was there at age 15 in 1642 , so only 12 in 1639, it's just as possible he was born there as that he came there at such a young age. 

IF he was born there then that takes the Boles in Cork back to a slightly earlier period.  English Protestants only settled in the Liscarroll area once Sir Percival acquired the land after the Irish Barry family lost it to the Crown in 1637.  But if the Boles were there earlier than that in north Cork, one of the earlier settlements in the area was a plantation created by Sir William Herbert of St. Julians, Newport, Monmouthshire in 1587 which included 13,726 acres of north Cork and Kerry including Letrough where Walter Hussey lived.

Sir William's very near neighbours back in Wales were The Bowles of Penhow, Monmouthshire just 7 miles away.  Both families were major landowners in this area going back to the early 1400's and likely earlier.  Thomas Bowles of Penhow died in 1580 ending the male line but in almost 200 years there would have been many younger sons of younger sons to establish the Bowles surname, which is still known in that area.

The same year that Herbert settled his own tenants on formerly Irish owned land he ceded a large section including Letrough to Sir Edward Denney, High Sheriff of Kerry.  This land was already occupied by his tenants as he notes in a letter printed in The Irish Massacres of 1641-42 that they applied to return to him after he ceded their land to Denny.  It was Denney whom General Barry, supported by many of Denney's tenants including Walter Hussey, first attacked at Tralee Castle before marching on to Liscarroll Castle. 

By coincidence, Sir Edward Denney also had a connection to a Bowles family back in England from which he might have drawn his tenants.  Sir Edward Denny of Waltham Abbey immediately followed a Thomas Bowles  of Wallington as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1602.  Wallington near Baldock, Hertfordshire was the home of a Bowles family from 1522.    See The Bowles of Hertfordshire


This site was last updated 03/02/20