BOWES, Ralph (d.1623), of Barnes, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

1st s. of Robert Bowes I of Aske, Yorks., by his 1st w. m. Joan, da. and h. of William Headlam, 8s. 3da. suc. fa. 15 Nov. 1597.

Offices Held

J.p. Dur. by 1604.


Sending Bowes as their messenger to the Queen, the Earl of Sussex and Lord Hunsdon on 29 Apr. 1570 introduced him as a servant of the Earl of Leicester who, being in Yorkshire on private business, had joined their punitive expedition into Scotland at his own cost. He had taken part in all the actions in Tivydale and been present at the taking of Hume castle, on all of which he could inform her fully. Possibly this service was remembered when, in August 1571, he was granted a 21-year lease of Kirby Moorside, in Yorkshire, and Egglestone, in Durham, manors which had earlier belonged to the Earl of Westmorland. These are the earliest and only certain references to Bowes prior to his return to Parliament for a borough which his father had represented in 1572 and of which the Earl of Cumberland was patron. For Bowes senior, sitting in his sixth and last Parliament, the introduction of his son as a new Member may have had a special significance, but how it was brought about is obscure. The Commons, who had expected to meet on 12 Nov. 1588, did not meet until 4 Feb. 1589. A week later they decided to disallow the return for Appleby because of the uncertainty caused by the alterations it had undergone, and to issue a new writ. In consequence, Bowes and his fellow-Member, Thomas Posthumous Hoby, both named on the new return dated 16 Feb. 1589 (though not on the earlier return, as far as is known), must have been about a fortnight late in taking their seats. Father and son were among the Members appointed to confer with the Lords on 29 Mar. 1589 on a declaration of war against Spain.

By this time Bowes was married and living at Barnes. In 1590 he offered to use his wife’s inheritance as surety for money to be granted to his father for the payment of the Berwick garrison. While his father was in Scotland the younger Bowes seems to have acted as his deputy, and was described as ‘very honest and careful’. On his father’s death in 1597 he hoped to succeed him as treasurer at Berwick, and in this connexion John Carey wrote to Burghley: ‘[he] is so honest and well conditioned a gentleman that if he had money I should recommend him to succeed his father’. Sir William Bowes also recommended him, but eventually accepted the office himself.

His father’s debts, and the necessity of paying large sums to the Crown and others, greatly strained Bowes’s financial resources, and may account for the small part he played thenceforward in public affairs. Probably he took over his father’s mining interests. He died holding the manor of Barnes and other property in Durham on 20 Sept. 1623.

Durham Vis. Peds. ed. Foster, 38; Sharp, Memorials of the Rebellion, 240; CPR, 1569-72, p. 238; D’Ewes, 430, 454; Border Pprs. 1560-94, pp. 324, 354, 369; 1595-1603, pp. 117, 168, 170, 408, 449-50, 465; CSP Scot. xi. 187; HMC Hatfield, viii. 366; xvii. 506; APC, xxx. 326; Wards 7/68/45.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe