BOWES, Sir Jerome (-d.1616), of Charing Cross, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

2nd s. of John Bowes (d. 5 Oct. 1551) of Hackney, Mdx. and Dorothy, da. of Jerome Markham.1 educ. M. Temple 1606.2 m. lic. 12 Aug. 1562, Jane (d. c.1605), da. and coh. of Roger Rookwood of Euston, Suff., wid. of Christopher Calthorpe of Cockthorpe, Norf., s.p. 3 kntd. 28 Aug. 1570.4 bur. 28 Mar. 1616.5

Offices Held

Member, Queen Elizabeth’s Household by 1562.6

Amb. Russia 1583-4.7

J.p. Mdx. 1598-d.;8 commr. oyer and terminer, Main Plot, Mdx. 1603, the Verge 1610,9 charitable uses, Mdx. 1605,10 sewers, London and Mdx. 1606-11, Mdx. 1611, London 1615,11 musters, Mdx. 1608,12 annoyances, Surr. 1611, Mdx. 1613.13


Bowes’s family was reputedly a cadet branch of the Durham dynasty that produced Talbot Bowes*, but the precise relationship has not been established. Bowes’s father owned substantial estates in Staffordshire, but being a younger son Bowes himself received only a modest inheritance - just £150, as well as property in Hackney and Stepney. He therefore became a courtier, and was a member of Queen Elizabeth’s Household when he received a licence to marry in 1562. After a visit to France he published a translation of the anonymous An Apology or Defence for the Christians of France which are of the Evangelicall or Reformed Religion in 1579. 14 Four year later he was sent as ambassador to Moscow in the last days of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. In 1592 he was granted a patent giving him the sole right to make drinking glasses for 12 years,15 but he entrusted the industry to partners in the city of London after leasing property in Blackfriars from Sir George More* to serve as a glasshouse.16 By the end of the century Bowes had settled near Charing Cross.17 He sat for Lancaster in the last Elizabethan Parliament, and was a bearer of the canopy at the queen’s funeral, alongside Sir Francis Knollys I*.18

Bowes was returned for Reading to the first Jacobean Parliament, evidently on the nomination of Sir Francis Knollys’s brother, the borough’s high steward, Lord Knollys (William Knollys†), a prominent courtier and, like Bowes, a resident of Charing Cross. He made no recorded speech, unless the one ascribed to him by the authors of the ‘Parliament Fart’ poem is included, but he was named to 44 committees.19 He received the first of his 18 appointments in the opening session - to consider the grievances raised by Sir Robert Wroth I - on 23 Mar. 1604. He was named to attend conferences with the Lords on Wards (26 Mar. and 22 May) and on the Union with Scotland (14 April). Having been appointed to attend the second wardship conference, he would have been eligible to participate in the committee that drew up the Form of Apology and Satisfaction of the Commons in June. He was twice appointed to attend the king concerning the Buckinghamshire election dispute (28 Mar. and 12 April). One of the bills he was named to consider was that to enable Martin Calthorpe, the second cousin of his wife’s first husband, to make a jointure (27 April). On 30 May he was appointed to consider the bill to grant James I the customs’ duties.20

In the second session he was named to 11 committees, including one for the amendment of an Elizabethan Act on the export of cloth, of interest to Reading as a clothing town (17 Mar. 1606), and another for free trade (3 April).21 The first of his nine appointments in the third session was to consider the Union with Scotland (29 Nov. 1606). He was also named for bills on the unlicensed sale of beer (3 Dec.) and ‘the odious and loathsome sin of drunkenness’ (8 December).22

Early in 1607 two men robbed his house ‘near unto Charing Cross’ of jewels and money, and murdered a woman servant in doing so. One of the murderers had once been Bowes’s servant. Bowes had apparently saved both from hanging for an earlier theft, but for this crime they were hanged ‘over against the house’.23 Two years later, on the death of his elder brother, Sir John Bowes of Elford in Staffordshire, Bowes received a gelding and £100, with a request ‘to be father in his care towards my daughter and to accept of the widow’s mite, mine ability being no better’.24

In the fourth session Bowes was appointed to attend a conference concerning supply on 15 Feb. 1610, when the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) first outlined what became the Great Contract. His other five committees in the fourth session were for bills including an explanatory bill concerning the vagrancy laws (21 April). On 2 Mar. he acted as teller for the unsuccessful motion to commit the Biggleswade highway bill.25 He played no known part in the poorly documented fifth session, and there is no evidence that he sought re-election.

Bowes was increasingly concerned in his last years with the profits of the glass patent, ‘since his whole estate (as he allegeth) dependeth thereupon’.26 His patent had been renewed by James, and the reversion had been granted to his nephew Sir Percival Hart†, but on 17 Mar. 1616 he surrendered it for an annuity of £600.27 Eleven days later he was buried at Hackney. He had made his will on 25 Mar. 1609, leaving some £300 jewels and the profits of the patent to various relatives, but mentioning no lands.28 Chamberlain commented that he ‘left no great matter behind him’.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 29; C142/97/68; C.R. Markham, Markham Mems. i. 128-9.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. London Mar. Lics. ed. J. Foster, 163; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 66; W. Blomefield, Norf. ix. 217.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 74.
  • 5. Mems. of St. John Hackney comp. R. Simpson, 238.
  • 6. London Mar. Lics. 163.
  • 7. Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 222.
  • 8. C231/1, f. 46v; C66/2076.
  • 9. C181/1, f. 66v; 181/2, f. 108v.
  • 10. C93/2/15.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 19v, 140v, 153, 243.
  • 12. Add. 11402, f. 142.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 142, 199.
  • 14. N and Q, (ser. 1), x. 348-9; PROB 11/36, f. 178; HMC Bath, iv. 144.
  • 15. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 179.
  • 16. E.S. Godfrey, Development of Eng. Glassmaking, 39-44.
  • 17. LCC Survey of London, xvi. 111.
  • 18. LC2/4/4, f. 46v.
  • 19. Add. 34218, f. 20.
  • 20. CJ, i. 151a, 154a, 157a, 169b, 172a, 187a, 22b, 228b, 230b; Blomefield, Norf. ix. 304-5; Vis. Norf. 66-7.
  • 21. CJ, i. 285b, 292b.
  • 22. Ibid. 326b, 327a, 328b.
  • 23. LCC Survey of London, xvi. 112.
  • 24. PROB 11/113, f. 292.
  • 25. CJ, i. 393b, 404b, 419b.
  • 26. APC, 1615-16, pp. 15, 196-7.
  • 27. C66/1711, 2076; APC, 1613-14, pp. 29, 497; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 373; 1611-18, pp. 207, 355.
  • 28. PROB 11/127, f. 297.
  • 29. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 616.