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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The name Bowley reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Bowley family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bowley family lived in Worcestershire. However, the surname of the Bowley family evolved from the name of their former residence, Beaulieu, a place in Calvados, Normandy.


The surname Bowley was first found in Worcestershire, at Bewdley, a town and civil parish in the Wyre Forest District. The village dates back to about 1275 when it was listed as Beuleu and literally meant "beautiful place" having derived from the Old French beau + lieu. [1] One of the first records of one of the surname's early variants was Simon de Bello Loco of Normandy who was listed there in 1180 and years later Alexander de Bello Loco paid a fine in Bedfordshire in 1255. [2] Bewley Common is a small village in Wiltshire.

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Bewley, Bewlay, Bowley, Bowlay, Bewlie and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bowley research. Another 147 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1214, 1902, 1840, 1835 and 1986 are included under the topic Early Bowley History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Bowley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Bowley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 183 words (13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Bowley name or one of its variants:

Bowley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • James Bowley, who arrived in Maryland in 1677

Bowley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Bowley, who landed in New York in 1845
  • William Bowley, who arrived in New York in 1845

Bowley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Henry Bowley arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairlee" in 1840
  • James Bowley arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairlee" in 1840
  • G.E. Bowley arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Posthumous" in 1849
  • Isaac Bowley, aged 29, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima"


  • Albert Jesse Bowley Sr., American Lieutenant General in the United States Army
  • Frederick Bowley (1851-1916), American politician
  • Frederick W. Bowley, American Democrat politician, Borough President of Queens, New York, 1898-1901
  • Robert Kanzow Bowley (1813-1870), English amateur musician, and later an early music administrator
  • Marian Bowley (1911-2002), English economist and historian of economic thought
  • Edward Henry "Ted" Bowley (1890-1974), English cricketer
  • Will Bowley (b. 1984), English rugby union player
  • Sir Arthur Lyon Bowley (1869-1957), English statistician and economist
  • Frederick Bowley (1909-1994), British cricketer
  • Frederick Bowley (1873-1943), British cricketer


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Cautus metuit foveam lupus
Motto Translation: The cautious wolf fears the snare.


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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)

Other References

  1. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  4. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  5. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Bowley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bowley Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 November 2015 at 10:13.

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