Bowlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bowlay is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bowlay family lived in Worcestershire. However, the surname of the Bowlay family evolved from the name of their former residence, Beaulieu, a place in Calvados, Normandy. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Bowlay family

The surname Bowlay 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. [3]

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. [1]

Bewley Common is a small village in Wiltshire. Bewley Castle is in Bolton, Cumbria and is "said to have been built by Bishop Hugh who died in 1223. The castle was originally called 'Bellus Locus.' It features in the legend of the Robbers of Bewley by Reagill's poet Anthony Whitehead (A border reiver dressed as a woman, out to rob Bewley castle in the time of Sir Richard Musgrave, gets hot fat poured down his throat while he sleeps by the house keeper Margaret Dawe)."

Early rolls listed William de Beulu in Gloucestershire in 1273 and Philip de Beauleu in 1329. [4]

Early History of the Bowlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bowlay research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1214, 1813, 1834, 1834, 1858, 1870, 1902, 1840, 1835 and 1986 are included under the topic Early Bowlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bowlay Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Bowlay are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Bowlay include Bewley, Bewlay, Bowley, Bowlay, Bewlie and others.

Early Notables of the Bowlay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Robert Kanzow Bowley, the son of a boot-maker at Charing Cross, was born May 13, 1813. He was bred to his father's business, and succeeded him in it. His first knowledge of music was acquired by association with the choristers of Westminster Abbey. Ardent and enthusiastic, he pursued his studies vigorously. Whilst still a youth he joined a small society called 'The Benevolent Society of Musical Amateurs,' of which he afterwards became conductor. In 1834 he was one of the committee who promoted and carried out...
Another 94 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bowlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bowlay family to Ireland

Some of the Bowlay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 96 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bowlay migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Bowlay, or a variant listed above:

Bowlay Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Maud Eliza Sanders Bowlay, aged 25, who immigrated to America from Dartmouth, England, in 1909
  • Arthur Bowlay, aged 39, who landed in America, in 1922


The Bowlay Motto +

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.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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