The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and the Church at Castletown
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The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and the Church at Castletown

note: this Castletown is near Ballickmoyler and is not the better known Castletown west of Portlaoise near Mounthrath, co. Laois.  For clarification this town is sometimes called Killabban-Castletown.

See also The Early History of Castletown, The Early History of Ballickmoyler, The Bowles of Ballickmoyler, The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and the Coopers of Cooper Hill Demesne and Ballickmoyler in the 1798 Rebellion.

The record of the Bowles of Ballickmoyler's births, marriages and deaths for the 1700's appear in the St. Mary's Carlow records.  We don't know for sure yet if there was any closer Church of Ireland church to them in that period.  There may have been a church at Castletown then but if so none of it's records have survived.  We know that they were active in the "rebuilding" of the church at Castletown in 1801 though so it's likely that some of their earlier records have been lost forever.                           Additional pictures of the Church

Fortunately the Vestry Minutes and Registry books for the Castletown church since 1801 have survived and are kept the the Church of Ireland Archives (called the RCBL or Representative Church Body Library) in Dublin.

The Bowles entries in the Castletown register from 1806 to 1846 are listed in Bowles Records at Killabban-Castletown

Note: Michael Bowles Sr. had gone to England in the 1760's where he served in the army and retired to Nottinghamshire.  His three sons born in Manchester, John(1773), Joseph (1777) and Michael (1778) returned to Ballickmoyler sometime after their father's death in 1799.

The Vestry minutes show that the Bowles were major planners, builders and supporters of the new church at Castletown.  The first page of the first Vestry book contains a motion passed by the local Church of Ireland parishioners to build the church at Ballickmoyler rather than at Castletown.  This document is also important in that it lists the parishioners present at the meeting.  It's interesting that John Bowles and John Tomlinson are already the Church Wardens for the Castletown Church and that it refers to "the rebuilding of the said (Castletown) church".  This clearly indicates that another church stood on that spot at some time in the past although how long before is not known.  There is no record of a church there being burned during the United Irish Rebellion of 1798 but that would have been a very appropriate timeframe for its rebuilding in 1801.  Several of the parishioner's houses were burned in 1798, including William and Joseph Bowles homes in Ballickmoyler.  The rebuilding of their houses would have been their first concern, it would have taken the community a while to get back on its feet again before they could turn their attention to their church.

Killabban-Castletown Vestry Minutes, page 1

At a meeting legally called and held at the Church of Castletown area in the parish of Killabban the 27th day of June 1801 in order to ascertain what sum of money would be necessary to be applotted on said parish for the rebuilding of the parish church and other charges necessary for said church.  It was objected to by the majority of Protestant Parishioners then present to applott any sum on said parish for the rebuilding of the present parish church but are willing to assess the parish with any sum necessary for building a church at Ballickmoyler it being the most convenient to the said majority.


Church wardens:  John Bowles     John Tomlinson

Arthur Weldon, Minister

Parishioners Present:

W. Cooper Arthur Hovenden James FitzMaurice Wm. Bowles Jim Allen
Adam Taylor James Furney Wm. Magee William Tomlinson Ben Furney
Joseph Bowles William James William Bets (?) Robert Hawthorn Thomas Smyth
William Magee (again) George Layore (?) Peter McDonald Pat Hart (?) Wm. Graham
Pierce Hovenden Mosley Hovenden      

The first three names are the gentry in the area, William Cooper of Coopershill, Arthur Hovenden of Gurteen and James FitzMaurice of Ashfield House.  Pierce and Mosley Hovenden are sons of John Hovenden of Tierernane Lodge.  Names with a question mark were hard to read and represent a best guess.

However, after some off-the-record discussion it was decided to rebuild the church at its original location.  One of the factors may have been the presence of a cemetery already at that site.  The Vestry Minutes record that on September 24th, 1801 in a meeting in "the Church of Castletown area" the decision was made to applot 221£ for the rebuilding of the church at its present location.  This motion is signed by John Bowles and John Tomlinson as the Church Wardens, by the Minister, Arthur Weldon, and by Joseph Bowles as the parish clerk.

The vestry minutes for the next couple of years appoint new church wardens each year.  At a vestry meeting in 1804 they approved an applotment on their parishioners for 127£ to furnish the church.  At a vestry meeting in June 1805 they approved a plan to assign the church's 20 pews to individuals.  I believe the implication is that the individuals named would pay a fee to the church for the pew assigned to them.  The writing on this part was very faded so where I could not make out the writing I have indicated a '?' or '......'

Pew Assigned to
1 Rahin - W. Weldon
2 Colonel Hovenden
3 Cowlaseal (?) - Wm. Fitzgerald
4 Fosernan (?) - Wm. & Agnes Hovenden
5 Rofsese (?) - Wm. Cooke
6 Ballylinan - Ralph and Henry ......
7 Ballylinan - Rob't. and Thomas ......
8 Ballylinan - Wm. Weldon's tenants
14 Ballymoyler (sic) - Wm. Cooper's Tenants
15 Ballymoyler (sic) - Benjamin Furney
16 Ashfield
17 Ballygall - Doctor Duigan
18 Gurteen - Wm. Hovenden
19 Maidenhead - Wm. Sutton
20 Cooperhill - Wm. Cooper

Note: as William Cooper's tenants in Ballickmoyler, the Bowles family would have sat in pew #14 or in the unassigned pew's 9 through 13.  From the pew assignments it would appear that the 20 pews in the church were numbered from 1 to 10 on one side of the church from front to back and then from 11 to 20 on the other side from the back to the front.  That would put the Rev'd. Weldon's family and William Cooper's family in the front rows with the Hovendens, Fitzgeralds and Suttons just behind them.  The five rows at the back of the church were left unassigned for those who could not afford to pay for the support of their own pews.

At a vestry meeting in July 1805 they changed the spelling for pews 14 and 15 to Ballickmoyler, added a name beginning with H (cannot read the name) to #16 Ashfield and changed #6 to Wm. Crowley.

The minutes show that in 1806 they started paying Joseph Bowles a salary as vestry clerk.  Later the salary is stated to be 10£.

The March 1807 minutes contains a first mention of a Michael Bowles of Ballickmoyler who was appointed to be a sideman to Wm. Cooper as a church warden. 

The April 1808 minutes which include appointing Joseph Bowles as a church warden are also signed by William Bowles.

The Feb. 1810 minutes approving the paying of salaries and bills including the 10£ to Joseph Bowles is also signed by John Bowles.

The May 1812 minutes have 4 approval signatures including Joseph and John Bowles.

Another 1812 meeting entry approves a list of miscellaneous expenses such as 1£ for a gate and also to pay 3 years of back salary to Joseph Bowles as parish clerk.

The Feb 1813 minutes are signed by 4 people including John and Joseph Bowles.

The January 1815 minutes pay bills including the 10£ to Joseph Bowles, 4£ 11s for prayer books and bibles, 2£ 3d to repair storm damage, 20£ for a front walk, 4£ for a gate and 8£ for a cloth for the pulpit.

The March 20, 1815 minutes include the last payment to Joseph Bowles as the vestry clerk.

The Feb. 26, 1816 minutes approve the payment of the 10£ to the widow of Joseph Bowles the late vestry clerk.  One of the 6 signers for these minutes was John Bowles.

John Bowles also signed the April 1816 minutes but that is the last mention of any Bowles that I could find in the vestry minutes.

The Killabban-Castletown Church Registry shows that Joseph Bowles died in October 1815 in Ballickmoyler and was buried at the Castletown church Oct. 20, 1815 and also that his son, John Bowles, was buried at the church on May 19, 1818.  A William Bowles (b. ~ 1765) died at Dunleckney, co. Carlow and was buried at the Castletown church on Dec. 16, 1816 and is possibly the William Bowles mentioned in the minutes.  Michael Bowles' wife also died at about that time as he remarried in about 1819 but this time to a Catholic woman and they raised a second family.  I have not found the Catholic records for that family which later emigrated to Canada between 1842 and 1846 and settled in Reach township, Ontario.

This site was last updated 10/19/18