Show ContentsBowley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. 1 2

Early Origins of the Bowley family

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. 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 Bowley family

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

Bowley Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Bowley family

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...

Bowley Ranking

In the United States, the name Bowley is the 13,345th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 5

Ireland Migration of the Bowley family to Ireland

Some of the Bowley 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 Bowley migration to the United States +

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 6
Bowley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Bowley, who landed in New York in 1845 6
  • William Bowley, who arrived in New York in 1845 6

Australia Bowley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bowley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Henry Bowley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairlee" in 1840 7
  • James Bowley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairlee" in 1840 7
  • G.E. Bowley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Posthumous" in 1849 8
  • Isaac Bowley, aged 29, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima" 9

Contemporary Notables of the name Bowley (post 1700) +

  • Albert Jesse Bowley Sr., American Lieutenant General in the United States Army
  • Frederick Bowley (1851-1916), American politician
  • Frederick W. Bowley, American Democratic Party politician, Borough President of Queens, New York, 1898-1901 10
  • 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 Bowley 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)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) FAIRLIE/FAIRLEE 1840. Retrieved from
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The POSTHUMOUS 1849. Retrieved from
  9. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque FATIMA 1850, 521 tons. Retrieved
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook