BOWLES, John (d.1598), of Earsham, Norf.
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Family and Education
educ. ?Clare, Camb. 1546. m. Anne, at least 1da.
Servant of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk; keeper of Earsham park by 1577.
Branches of the Bowles family were living during the sixteenth century in Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire and several other counties, and the name John was common among them. The MP may have been a descendant of the John Bolles or Bowles who was sheriff of Hertfordshire and Essex 1542-3. Whoever he was he owed his return for New Shoreham to the Duke of Norfolk. In October 1571, during the examinations of Norfolk’s servants, one of them gave evidence that ‘one Bowles who belonged to the Duke had ten marvellous fair black corslets of proof, which were proved with the pistolett’, and William Dix deposed that Bowles could tell ‘who had the key of the evidence house at Howard House after the Duke was last sent to the Tower’. Norfolk’s opinion of Bowles can be seen from a letter he wrote to his children before his execution, asking ‘Tom’ (Lord Howard de Walden) to keep a promise to let Bowles have the lease of a farm, since ‘he hath been as honest and true a servant to your father as any that he hath had’. He is not known to have suffered as a result of the Duke’s downfall. In all probability he was the ‘Mr. Bowles’ who, in December 1577, wrote, as keeper of Earsham park, Norfolk, near Bungay, to another old servant of the Duke, Robert Buxton about money to be raised by the sale of wood there. His will (‘John Boules, gent. of Earsham’), was made in March 1598 and proved at Norwich 10 Apr. He bequeathed to the widow and sole executrix, ‘all my household stuff, plate, chattels and all my cattle and all the rest of my moveable goods whatsoever’. Bowles’s daughter Anne Barbor was to have ‘my lease granted unto me by her Majesty of the lands of Nicholas Barbor, her son, towards his bringing up’. Thomas Lestrange was one of the witnesses.
HMC Hatfield, i. 549, 576; Lansd. 105, f. 97; HMC Var. ii. 234; Norwich wills, 234 Adams; Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 112; R. Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 596; N. Williams, Duke of Norfolk, 246.