The Ancestry of Valentine Bowles, Grocer of Deal
Valentine Bowles settled in Deal in the mid 17th Century and became prominent in the early history of the town. He was a Grocer by trade and a member of the committee that secured the Royal Charter for Deal in 1699. His children were baptised at St.Leonard’s, Deal, but as a committed Quaker they were also registered at the Friends Meeting House in Folkestone. Unfortunately, Valentine’s faith led him into conflict with the authorities for the ‘crime’ of Recusancy, this being the refusal to attend Church regularly. There are also records of his being briefly incarcerated in Deal Castle. He was married to Elizabeth Cleere the daughter of Tobias Cleere, an Apothecary of Sandwich who was Mayor of that town four times and one of the canopy bearers at the Coronation of Charles II in 1661.
Mystery has always surrounded Valentine Bowles’ ancestry and over the years many theories have been suggested, three of which are detailed below.
1) That he was the son of Charles Bowles of Chatham, a wealthy merchant and fellow Quaker and his wife Agnes Cole – Although this is a tempting explanation, there is no mention of a son of this name in his Will of 1659 and the names Charles and Agnes do not appear in Valentine’s large family in Deal. However, Charles did have a son called Phineas that mirrors the name of one of Valentine’s sons.
2) Another theory is that he was the son of Valentine and Frances Bowle of Rochester – There is very little information about this couple but there is no evidence of a son called Valentine and, again, the name Frances does not appear in Valentine’s family.
3) The third popular theory is that he was the son of Valentine Bowles, a wealthy Vintner of London and his wife Elizabeth Isacke – According to Boyd’s Inhabitants of London this couple married in 1617 and did indeed had a son called Valentine but this child died in 1627. In his Will published in 1637 Valentine Bowles was survived by his wife Elizabeth and daughters Anne and Elizabeth.
Boyd's Inhabitants Of London and Family Units 1200-1946
A new Theory
Looking at local records it seems likely that Valentine Bowles may have his roots in a location much closer to Deal than London, Chatham or Rochester. Confusion has possibly arisen because of variations in the spelling of his surname in the Parish Registers, a common occurrence at this time. The earliest reference I can trace for this family is the following marriage in Deal in 1568.
Richard Bowle m Annis Heringe 27 Jul 1568
Richard Bowle was Valentine’s Grandfather. Unfortunately I cannot trace his line back any further. I do believe that Annis had a brother called John who married Elizabeth Reynold in 1676 at St Leonard’s, Deal. When John died in 1592 he left a Will that was witnessed by Richard Bowle. He also made a bequest to Agnes Bowle to be paid to her on the day of her marriage.
Richard and Annis Bowle settled in Ringwould where they had the following children
Felix or Phillis? d of Richard 30 Nov 1575
(The transcription gives the name as Felix but the entry clearly says ‘d’ for daughter)
Agnes d of Richard 11 Mar 1577
Richard s of Richard 21 Dec 1580
Sarah d of Richard 1 Jan 1581 Bur 25 Dec 1583
Anthony Bowl s of Richard 13 Dec 1584
Margaret d of Richard 19 Nov 1587 Bur 26 Jan 1587
John s of Richard 10 Aug 1589 Bur 23 Jan 1619
Richard Bowle s of Richard Bur 29 Sept 1580
(I believe that there are other Baptisms that pre-date the available Parish Register or took place elsewhere).
Richard Bowle died in 1596 and was buried in Ringwould. His wife Annis Bowle was buried there in 1610 where she appears on the Register as follows
Mother Bowle Widow Bur 26 Apr 1610
St.Leonard’s, Deal Parish Register / Find My Past
Ringwould Parish Register / Find My Past
Canterbury Cathedral Archives
A Marriage in St.Margarets at Cliffe
Anthony Bowle was born in Ringwould in 1584. In 1611 the following marriage took place in St.Margarets at Cliffe.
Anthony Bowles m Thomasin Pelham 22 Jun1611
Mary Bowle was baptised at St. Margarets but they settled in Ringwould. Their last child was Valentine born in 1633. Please note that the alternative spelling of their surname coincides with a change of handwriting in the Register.
Mary Bowle d of Anthony 8 Dec 1616
Richarde Bowle s of Anthony 25 Sept 1614
Simon Bowle s of Anthony 25 Jul 1619
Robert Bowle s of Anthony 7 Oct 1621 Bur 3 Feb 1621/2
Anne Bowle d of Anthony 29 Dec 1622
William Bolde s of Anthony 18 Mar 1625
Anthony Bold s of Anthony 27 Mar 1628
Thomasin Bold d of Anthony 28 Nov 1630
Valentine Bold s of Anthony 15 Sept 1633
It seems likely that the Valentine born in 1633 to this family is the same gentleman who settled in Deal. Ironically, the earlier Classic version of Family Search was correct as to Valentine’s year of birth but incorrect when they gave his birthplace as Deal.
Thomasine and Anthony died in 1657 and 1666 and were buried in Ringwould where he was described as a householder. Unfortunately, I cannot trace a Will.
Thomasin Bold Wife of Anthony 16 Jun 1657
Anthony Bold Householder Bur 29 Dec 1666
Ringwould Parish Register / Find My Past
St Margarets Parish Register / Find My Past
Evidence from Wills
Richard Bowles (Valentine’s Grandfather) who died in 1596 did not leave a Will but later members of this family did. From these documents it is possible to confirm family connections. The first corroborative information appears in the Will of John Bowles of Ringwould (1589 - 1620) which includes bequests to his brother Anthony, Mary, (his brother’s daughter) and Thomasine Bowle, the wife of Anthony. This confirms that the marriage in 1611 was that of Anthony Bowle of Ringwould.
Several members of this family relocated to Walmer but in many cases they request to be buried in Ringwould so it is easy to trace them back to their birthplace. I have consulted several Wills but the most illuminating is that of Simon Bowles, Yeoman of Walmer who died in 1674. This man was married to a lady called Mary. In this document he states that after his decease his house and Lands in Walmer should pass to his wife but following her death his wish was as follows.
‘After the decease of my wife
Mary my will and desire is to have all my lands, house
In Walmer sold and the money equally to be divided
Amongst my six children John, William, Symon, Anthony,
Thomasin and Mary and my will is to have my brother
Valentine Bowles sell my said land and house in Walmer
To the best advantage aforesaid after the decease of
My wife Mary and the money equally to be divided
Among those of my children that are then living’
Simon and Mary Bowles were both buried in Ringwould.
Simon Bold bur 12 Jul 1674
Mary Bold bur 27 Sept 1680
This Will extract shows that Valentine Bowles (b1633) was alive in 1674 and carried out his brother’s wishes in 1680 when Mary died. I cannot find any documents to the contrary or any evidence to suggest that there were two Valentine’s.
Based on the above research I have concluded that Valentine Bowles, Grocer of Deal was born in Ringwould in 1633. The appearance of both his parent’s names, Anthony and Thomasin(e), in his own family further supports this conclusion. I believe that his marriage to Elizabeth Cleere was held in the Quaker faith and that the record of this has sadly been lost which is a great shame as Quaker marriage entries are very detailed and would have given his Father’s name. Valentine Bowles died in 1711 leaving a lengthy Will and was buried at the Quaker Burial Ground, Wingham on the 10th July 1711.
Researched by Sue Buckman 2014
Canterbury Cathedral Archives
England and Wales Quaker Birth, Marriage and Death Registers 1578 – 1837 on Ancestry.co.uk