BOWES, Talbot (1560-1638), of Frenchgate, Richmond, Yorks. and Chelsea, Mdx.; formerly of Eggleston Abbey, Yorks.; later of Streatlam Castle, co. Dur.

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

b. 1560, 6th s. of Sir George Bowes† of Streatlam and 2nd w. Jane, da. of Sir John Talbot of Grafton, Worcs.1 educ. G. Inn 1579.2 m. 12 May 1589,3 Agnes, da. and h. of Thomas Warcopp† of Smardale, Westmld. s.p. suc. mother in Yorks. estates 1599; half-bro. Sir William Bowes† in half of Streatlam estate 1611-13;4 kntd. 23 Apr. 1617.5 d. 14-15 Mar. 1638.6 sig. Talbot Bowes.

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (N. Riding) c.1592-1606, co. Dur. 1614-25;7 commr. musters, N. Riding 1595, 1600, recusants 1596;8 head burgess, Richmond by 1600-d., alderman (mayor), 1600-1, 1624-5;9 treas. hospitals, N. Riding 1600-1;10 commr. sewers N. Riding 1604;11 constable, Barnard Castle, co. Dur. and ranger (jt.), Teesdale Forest 1611-?d.;12 commr. border malefactors 1618, 1619.13


The Bowes family claimed to have arrived in England with the Breton contingent of William the Conqueror’s army, although the real founder of the family’s fortunes was Adam Bowes, chief justice in eyre, who acquired Streatlam Castle by marriage in 1310.14 His descendants prospered as lawyers and soldiers, though the location of their main estates within the bishopric meant that none, with the possible exception of the Adam Bowes returned for Appleby in 1362, appear to have sat in Parliament before Sir Robert Bowes†, master of the Rolls under Edward VI. Much of the estate, together with lands at Cowton and Aske in Richmondshire, was inherited by Sir George Bowes of Streatlam, a soldier who defended Barnard Castle against the 6th earl of Westmorland’s rebel forces in 1569,15 and was eulogized after his death as ‘the surest pillar Her Majesty had in these parts’.16

Sir George’s standing was underlined by his second marriage to Jane Talbot, a relative of the earls of Shrewsbury, at whose insistence, Bowes purchased the Yorkshire manors of Mickleton and Lune in 1561 to provide a jointure estate for his wife and an inheritance which was to pass to her sons in preference to those of his first marriage.17 At the time of the Northern rising he added much of his main estate at Streatlam to his wife’s jointure: the reversion was to come to his eldest son, Sir William Bowes†, and the latter’s heirs male in succession. Sir George’s younger sons, including any yet unborn, were granted a reversion in their turn, but the remainder on the inheritance was limited to the first son of each of these younger sons. This unusual arrangement may have originated as a drafting error, but, left uncorrected, it was to set the two halves of the family at odds 40 years later.18

Talbot Bowes was first noticed in family affairs in 1583, when he was named as a trustee for the jointure estates of his sister Anne upon her marriage to Thomas Hilton. By the early 1590s, as his mother’s eldest surviving son, he was living at Egglestone Abbey, near her Yorkshire jointure estates, where he may have been involved in the running of the family’s lead mines.19 It was during this time that he was first returned for Richmond, presumably through the agency of his uncle Robert Bowes†, who lived at Aske, a mile to the north of the borough. Bowes was himself resident within the borough at the general election in 1597, but his dying uncle presumably failed to give him any support, and he did not sit again until 1601, by which time he was a member of the corporation and had served a term as alderman (mayor).20

Bowes was returned to Parliament for Richmond once again in 1604. He did not play a prominent part in the Commons’ proceedings, despite a number of Court contacts, which included his younger brother Thomas, a gentleman pensioner, and his privy councillor relative the 7th earl of Shrewsbury, from whom he probably purchased his house at Chelsea in 1606.21 Bowes was one of the Members appointed to attend the king’s speech on the proposed Union with Scotland on 20 Apr. 1604, and in the same session he was named to the committee for the bill confirming the recent grant of a civil charter to the border garrison town of Berwick-upon-Tweed (16 May), which superseded the military establishment for which his half-brother Sir William Bowes had been treasurer.22 During the Union debates in 1606-7, Bowes made a modest attempt to defuse the heated argument over the naturalization of post-nati Scots by moving to refer the issue to a committee.23 He was more belligerent in his only other recorded speech, on 21 Nov. 1610, when the House considered whether to punish 30 MPs who had attended a private meeting with the king to discuss whether anything could be salvaged from the wreck of the Great Contract. William Hakewill attempted to defuse the crisis by moving that ‘none should hereafter do the like’, but Bowes seconded angry demands ‘that first there might be a report of the conference’ to establish whether punishment was due for breach of the Commons’ standing order for secrecy of debate.24

Many of Bowes’s committee nominations during this Parliament concerned legislation of local interest, notably the bills to establish a jointure estate for John Hotham* (25 Jan. 1606), to confirm letters patent for St. Bees’ grammar school in Cumberland (17 Mar. 1606) and to regulate coarse Kendal cloth (23 Feb. 1610). His residence in Chelsea may explain his inclusion on a committee to make a survey of the New River (16 July 1610).25 In 1610, he played an active part in the drafting of a bill to punish Sir Stephen Procter of Fountains Hall for attempting to sustain a lawsuit against his own kinsman Sir John Mallory*, in breach of parliamentary privilege.26 He had previously claimed privilege for himself in May 1607 to secure postponement of a case brought against him at York as one of the administrators of his father-in-law’s estate.27

Bowes’s main concern for much of this period was a dispute with his half-brother Sir William, who cut off the entail on the manors of Streatlam and Barforth in 1601,28 ostensibly to allow him to use them as collateral for the loans he raised to clear part of the debts which he and his father owed to the Crown. However, Sir William, having no sons of his own, also settled the inheritance of these manors upon his nephew George Bowes of Biddick, who was excluded from inheriting the Streatlam estate under the 1569 entail because he was a second son, his elder brother having died in infancy. The significance of this move only appears to have dawned on Talbot Bowes after the death of his half-brother George in 1606: under the 1569 settlement he would then have become heir apparent to Sir William, but the new arrangement favoured his nephew. Talbot Bowes asserted his right to the estate in November 1608, but Sir William countered by threatening his inheritance of Mickleton and Lune, and by encouraging George Bowes’s mother Magdalen to prosecute a separate suit against Thomas Bowes. Talbot Bowes responded by demanding that Sir William repay debts of £500 owing to himself, and a further £200 owing for his sister’s dowry, following which Sir William launched a counter-suit in the Exchequer in the summer of 1609.29

The dispute reached a stalemate in June 1610, when the Exchequer barons ruled that Bowes’s case for Sir William’s forfeiture of Streatlam was unproven.30 This was an invitation to seek a compromise, and Bowes had Sir John Mallory approach his brother with an offer to bring a fresh suit which would preserve Sir William’s life interest, but allow Bowes to challenge his nephew’s claim to a reversion.31 This proposal made little difference to Sir William, whose lands had been under extent to the Crown since 1604 for arrears of £1,400 on his account as treasurer of Berwick, and whose primary intention was to leave his estate to his nephew intact. The two men referred their case to the earls of Shrewsbury and Northampton for arbitration in April 1611, but Sir William quickly disowned the resulting compromise, and took steps to assure the Streatlam estate to his nephew George Bowes before his death on 30 Oct. 1611.32 Thereafter Sir William’s daughter, Dame Katherine Eure, was advised by William Noye* that she had a valid claim to the reversion of Streatlam. She attempted to secure a lease of the Crown’s extent, but was forestalled by the intervention of the earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Fenton, acting on behalf of Talbot Bowes.33 This challenge probably encouraged Talbot and Magdalen Bowes to sink their differences and agree upon a temporary division of the Streatlam estate during the minority of George Bowes, which was settled in the spring of 1613, upon arbitration by the assize judges.34 Both parties then joined to discharge the extent on Streatlam, thus frustrating Lady Eure’s plans.35

Towards the end of these complex manoeuvres, Bowes was returned to the Addled Parliament, but left little trace on its proceedings. At the second reading of the bill to restrict the erection of weirs, which was intended to allow salmon to spawn more freely, he moved ‘to have another time added and to have the penalty increased’, and was duly named to the committee (21 May). The only other item in which he had a direct interest was the bill to enfranchise county Durham, which proposed to award two seats to Barnard Castle. Given his hard-won position as the largest local landowner in the Teesdale, and his tenure as constable of the Castle, Bowes would have been certain to gain electoral patronage within the borough; sadly for him, the bill progressed no further than the committee stage before the dissolution.36

The prestige of the Streatlam estate was underlined in 1617, when both its claimants received knighthoods from King James on his progress to Scotland.37 The quarrel over this estate was revived in the same year when Sir George, having come of age, contested the partition agreed on his behalf in 1613.38 Although advised that he could either wait to inherit the entire estate after the deaths of his surviving uncles Sir Talbot, Thomas and John Bowes, or accept their offer of a settlement based upon the existing agreement, Sir George persisted in his claim to the whole of the manor.39 However, his Chancery suit appears to have collapsed, and in April 1620 he relinquished his claims in return for an annuity of £100.40

Though there was strong competition at Richmond at the general election of 1621, Sir Talbot Bowes was probably returned unopposed for the senior seat. Sir Thomas Wentworth’s* subsequent hostility to the enfranchisement of Barnard Castle suggests that Sir Talbot backed his relative William Bowes for the second seat against Wentworth’s ally Sir Henry Savile*.41 Bowes’s parliamentary experience was recognized at the outset of the Parliament, with a nomination to the committee for privileges (5 February).42 He participated in the widespread attack on monopolists, being particularly concerned to ensure that justice was seen to be done. When the House debated the punishment to be inflicted on Sir Francis Mitchell, patentee for alehouse recognizances, on 23 Feb., Bowes seconded Sir Henry Vane’s motion that consideration of the issue should be deferred until tempers had cooled. Three days later, he urged that the censure of (Sir) Giles Mompesson*, the patentee for inns, should be delayed until Mompesson’s role in several other patents had been investigated. Two weeks after this, when recorder Finch reported on the arrest of two goldsmiths by Mitchell and Mompesson for infringement of their patent for gold thread, Bowes moved ‘to have some joined as assistants to Mr. Recorder’ to examine the issue more fully.43 Remarkably, Bowes was the only northern MP to show any mercy to John Lepton, patentee for the drafting of pleadings before the Council in the North: on 14 May, he tabled a petition for Lepton’s counsel to be granted a hearing, which was rejected, as Lepton had previously refused a similar offer from the House. However, Bowes’s concern for due process should probably not be interpreted as covert support for monopolists: after Mompesson absconded, he seconded Sir William Herrick’s proposal to arrest two other patentees, and when Wentworth moved to summon yet another on 2 May, Bowes moved ‘for many more patentees’ to be investigated.44

Bowes was also interested in local issues. On 28 Apr. he observed that the bill to make the estates of those attainted liable for their debts was not applicable to county Durham, where forfeitures escheated to the bishop, not the king. He was probably included on the committee for the bill requiring notice to be given to landowners whose estates were involved in inquisitions post mortem (30 Apr.) to ensure that the bishopric was covered by its provisions. He was heavily involved with the bill which proposed to enfranchise county Durham and seven of the shire’s boroughs: he was the second MP named to the bill committee (6 Mar.), and presumably fought hard to ensure that Barnard Castle was one of the three boroughs remaining in the bill when it was reported. At this stage, further objections were raised to the county’s alleged over-representation, and Wentworth moved ‘to leave out Barnard Castle, which a dry town, rather than Hartlepool [a seaport]’. Bowes claimed that Durham paid more in purveyance and militia assessments than the East Riding (which returned six borough Members), and insisted that if any borough were to be stricken from the bill, it should be Hartlepool, where ‘not a sufficient man dwelling to serve; in Barnard Castle many. This the prince’s town, Hartlepool a subject’s’. His remarks appear to have influenced the debate, which concluded with a vote to include Barnard Castle in preference to Hartlepool. His desire to see the bill passed probably explains his reluctance to see the House adjourn at the beginning of June without securing the Royal Assent for any legislation except the subsidy bill; any misgivings he may have had were subsequently justified by the bill’s loss at the dissolution of February 1622.45

Bowes did not stand for Parliament at the election of 1624, having just taken office as alderman (mayor) of Richmond, which disqualified him from returning himself. However, he secured a seat for his great-nephew John Wandesford, who successfully piloted the bill for the enfranchisement of county Durham through both Houses, only to have it fall victim to the royal veto at the end of the session.46 In 1625, having completed his term of municipal office, Bowes was returned to the Commons once again. He made no known attempt to revive the Durham enfranchisement bill, and appeared only once in the records of the session, when he moved to allow the privilege committee (of which he was a member) to summon Sir Richard Cholmley*, the sheriff of Yorkshire, to testify about his conduct of the poll at the disputed county election.47

By the middle of the 1620s Bowes and his brother were in considerable financial trouble, which began with a bond for a mere £400, given as surety for a debt of £200 owed to Thomas Marbury, for purchasing the wardship of Bowes’s nephew Henry Hilton in 1599. Marbury received interest on this sum until his death in 1620, at which point Bowes hoped that Marbury’s brother and heir George, a Chancery clerk, would forgo repayment of the principal. The latter refused to make any concessions, and seized the manor of Barforth in April 1623.48 However, the tenants refused to pay their rents to Marbury, and during this temporary respite Bowes raised a loan of £400 from Humphrey Wharton, a Barnard Castle merchant, guaranteed by a mortgage upon the manor of Barforth. Wharton must have known that this property was already under extent, and would doubtless not have made the loan were it not for the surety offered by Bowes’s brother-in-law Sir Timothy Hutton and the latter’s son Matthew*.49 By the summer of 1624, a more complex transaction was being planned, under which Bowes and his brother would sell Barforth to the Huttons for £2,340, with a discount of £1,100 to allow for redemption of the debts Bowes owed to Marbury and Wharton. It took another 18 months to clinch the deal, partly because Thomas Bowes attempted to get a better price for the estate from various Newcastle merchants, and partly because of Matthew Hutton’s reluctance to proceed ‘for that he feared the same [i.e. Barforth] was subject and liable to former charges and encumbrances’.50

Hutton’s misgivings were to be answered by a private statute adding Barforth to his family’s entail in place of his wife’s jointure estate of Wharram Percy, which was to be sold to raise the cash to pay his uncles’ creditors.51 He naturally wished to see such an important bill through Parliament in person, and Bowes stood down in his favour at the Richmond election of January 1626. On arrival in Westminster, Hutton began negotiations to buy up Marbury’s recognizance and extend Barforth in his own name, forcing Bowes’s remaining creditors to agree to a composition on relatively easy terms.52 However, he also uncovered further debts of £1,390 charged against his uncles’ estates, and returned north for a brief but stormy confrontation, following which his uncles allowed him to charge a total of £2,640 against their lands; an agreement was signed on 31 May, the day before Hutton’s estate bill was reported in the Commons.53 This bill was lost at the dissolution of Parliament on 15 June, which extinguished all hopes of a speedy settlement and encouraged the Bowes’s creditors to foreclose on their estates. Marbury apparently took control of Barforth during the autumn, though Bowes contested his claim in Chancery.54 More immediately, another creditor procured an arrest warrant against Thomas Bowes, whose unwillingness to offer adequate compensation led to his committal to York Castle on 23 Sept. 1626.55 Over the next 15 months, Sir Talbot, fearful that he was destined to join his brother in debtor’s prison, became increasingly agitated at Hutton’s apparent lack of urgency in settling with his creditors.56 By the time fresh elections were called in January 1628, Bowes had decided to reclaim the Richmond parliamentary seat for himself, allowing him temporary protection from arrest. As lord president Scrope’s secretary, James Howell, was promised the other seat at Richmond, Hutton was denied election, and despite a petition from his father-in-law, his estate bill was not revived. Bowes, who might have been expected to promote the measure, left no trace at all on the records of his last Parliament.57

Hutton eventually raised £4,000 to pay off his uncles’ creditors. They reimbursed him by completing the sale of Barforth, and by mortgaging other lands.58 In 1629, Bowes was tricked into surrendering the constabulary of Barnard Castle to Sir Henry Vane; Bowes soon regained the title, but it took him five years to recover the perquisites of the office.59 In a final humiliation, Bowes lost control of Streatlam in 1630 when it was extended by the Crown for an unpaid debt of £100. Though the decree was reversed five years later, he was obliged to assign the manor to trustees nominated by Hutton shortly before his death.60 Bowes died at Barnard Castle on 14/15 Mar. 1638. He left no will, presumably because virtually all of his property had already been either alienated or entailed on his nephew Talbot Bowes.61 The latter was subsequently involved in at least one lawsuit concerning his inheritance,62 and the family’s finances were not fully restored until Sir Talbot’s great-nephew Sir William Bowes† married an heiress. The estates subsequently descended to John Lyon, 9th earl of Strathmore, who assumed the name of Bowes-Lyon; his descendant, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, married the future King George VI in 1923.63

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Dur. Vis. Peds. ed. Foster, 38-9.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. LMA, St. Giles-in-the-Fields par. reg.
  • 4. C2/Jas.I/B16/13, ff. 3, 5-6, and see below.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 162.
  • 6. DURH 3/188/110; Durham RO, EP/BC.1/1, unfol. (14 Mar. 1638).
  • 7. N. Riding Q.S. Recs. ed. J.C. Atkinson, iii. 29; Hatfield House, ms 278; SP13/F/11; C66/1549.
  • 8. Add. 36293, f. 71; HMC Hatfield, vi. 141.
  • 9. N. Yorks. RO, DC/RMB/V/1/95-188; C219/38/274.
  • 10. N. Riding Q.S. Recs. ii. 274-5, 281.
  • 11. C181/1, f. 86.
  • 12. C66/1842/2; E112/261/194, ff. 1, 3; Durham RO, D/St/D1/3/26 (ii).
  • 13. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii, pt. 3, pp. 38, 97.
  • 14. R. Surtees, Hist. and Antiq. of co. Palatine of Dur. iv. 100-1; Dur. Vis. Peds. ed. Foster, 37-8; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 44.
  • 15. C. Sharpe, Memorials of Rebellion of 1569.
  • 16. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 17.
  • 17. C2/Jas.I/B16/13; C2/Chas.I/B129/3; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 121-2.
  • 18. Durham RO, D/St/D13/5/8.
  • 19. Ibid. C1/2/12, D6/2/5, D12/46; Add. Ch. 66353.
  • 20. Durham RO, D/St/D8/1/62; N. Yorks. RO, DC/RMB, V/1/95-121.
  • 21. E407/1/38; PRO 30/26/186; Cal. Shrewsbury Pprs. ed. E.G.W. Bill (Derbys. Rec. Soc. i), 120; Durham RO, D/HH/5/2/417, D/St/D1/1/27, 30-31.
  • 22. CJ, i. 180a, 212a.
  • 23. Ibid. 1023-5. See also Bowyer Diary, 211.
  • 24. Parl. Debates 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 137-40; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 31v.
  • 25. CJ, i. 260a, 285b, 399a, 442a, 450a.
  • 26. Ibid. 426a, 428b, 435b, 440a, 452b. Mallory was a nephew of Sir George Bowes’s first w.
  • 27. CJ, i. 375b. The case probably concerned a covenant with Warcopp’s widow, see Durham RO, D/St/D12/46.
  • 28. Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/26, 28-9.
  • 29. E112/79/178; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/27, 30-31; Glamis Castle, Bowes letter bk. 5/8, 8*, 15 [enclosure in no. 8].
  • 30. E124/11, f. 118. The entire case is summarized in Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/33.
  • 31. Glamis Castle, Bowes letter bk. 3/43; 5/6, 12, 16, 17.
  • 32. Add. 40746, ff. 118-19; Glamis Castle, Bowes letter bk. 5/10-11; Durham UL, ms 942.81B7, ff. 23-4; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/34; WARD 7/61/48, 89/372.
  • 33. Durham UL, ms 942.81B7, ff. 127-8; Glamis Castle, Bowes letter bk. 3/39.
  • 34. Add. 40746, f. 120; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/73 (ix), D/St/D1/1/35 (viii, xi, xv); STAC 8/48/7; C2/Jas.I/B16/13.
  • 35. Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/36.
  • 36. CJ, i. 492b, 502b; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 309; C66/1842/2.
  • 37. Shaw, ii. 162, 164.
  • 38. Surtees, iv. 110; C2/Jas.I/B16/13, f. 3.
  • 39. Durham UL, ms 942.81B7, ff. 111v, 127-8; Add. 40746, f. 122. Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/73 (vi) is probably a copy of Sir Talbot’s offer.
  • 40. C2/Jas.I/B16/13; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/39; Glamis Castle, Strathmore mss, box 187, bdle. 3, deed of 20 Apr. 1620.
  • 41. CJ, i. 553; ‘Richmond’.
  • 42. CJ, i. 508a.
  • 43. CD 1621, v. 520; vi. 4, 268; CJ, i. 549; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 141-2.
  • 44. CJ, i. 536a, 620a; CD 1621, iii. 146, 244.
  • 45. CJ, i. 539b, 553, 595b, 596-7, 636-7; CD 1621, iii. 399; vi. 108.
  • 46. C219/38/274; CJ, i. 697b.
  • 47. Procs. 1625, pp. 206, 226.
  • 48. DURH 2/24/208; C2/Chas.I/B125/30; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 355.
  • 49. Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/41; C2/Chas.I/W16/20.
  • 50. Hutton Corresp. ed. J. Raine (Surtees Soc. xvii), 308-9, 311-12; C2/Chas.I/W16/20.
  • 51. N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1286/8521-4, 8622, 8640; Harl. 6847, ff. 66v-67.
  • 52. C2/Chas.I/B125/30; Hutton Corresp. 310-11, which should be dated to 27 Mar. 1626.
  • 53. C2/Chas.I/W16/20; CJ, i. 823a; N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1286/8635-6, 8927-8, MIC 1513/1710; Procs. 1626, iii. 341.
  • 54. Hutton Corresp. 313-14; C2/Chas. I/B125/30; N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1286/8927-8.
  • 55. C2/Chas.I/B82/8, S96/8; Hutton Corresp. 312-13.
  • 56. N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1286/8646; Hutton Corresp. 314-16.
  • 57. Hutton Corresp. 316-17; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/47; N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1513/1710.
  • 58. N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1286/8927-32.
  • 59. E112/261/194; Durham RO, D/St/D1/3/20 (vi); Glamis Castle, Bowes letter bk. 8/1.
  • 60. Durham UL, ms 942.81B7, ff. 15, 117v; Durham RO, D/St/D1/1/59-61.
  • 61. Durham RO, D/X/487/6/3, EP/BC.1/1, unfol.; DURH 3/188/110.
  • 62. C2/Chas.I/B97/55.
  • 63. Surtees, iv. 108.