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Our 2,743 members have registered
2,395 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

This study is being maintained by R.L. Bowles-Meentzen.

Variant names

This study includes the recognized surname variants of Bould, Boulds, Bowlds, Bowles, & Bowls. Over the last two decades, I have encountered 27 spellings of this surname including Bolles, Boles, Boales, Boals, Boyles, Boehles, Bowler, Bowels, and Bulls. In a mid 19th century will of my 4th great grandfather, his surname is spelled 3 different ways on one page alone. I know that I am not alone in thinking that our ancestors had a creative flair when it came to the spelling of surnames.

Name origin

The stories of the origins of the surname Bould, Boulds, Bowlds, Bowles, & Bowls are as varied as the spelling of the name. The usual suspects,geography, occupation and geology lay claim to the origin of the name. It is in some sources described as the place of origin Bouelles, Neufachtle, Normandy which might apply to some, but certainly not all Bowles'. Other sources describe the origin as an occupation which was one of a server and overseer of beverages to the gentry or royals. The geographical feature of a 'bole' i.e. a small hill where they lived is also credited as the source of the name.Finally the occupation of the Knight Richard le Bolde is by far the most romantic of sources of origin.

Historical occurrences of the name

A few of the famous and infamous who wear this name are

  • Paul Bowles , author
  • Chester Earl Bowles aka Black Bart, American Outlaw
  • Brian Bowles, Martial Artist, Bantamweight Fighter
  • Hamish Bowles, Fashion Editor
  • Tony Bowles, Fashion Designer
  • Peter Bowles, Actor
  • Chester Bowles, Former Governor of Connecticut
  • Erskine Bowles, Former White House Chief of Staff
  • Andrew Parker Bowles, OBE
  • Stan Bowles , British Footballer
  • Capt. John Bowles, American Sea Captain & Abolitionist
  • William Lisle Bowles, poet

Distribution of the name

Data Posting In Progress


The data I hold includes extensive research on my own family line .The paper trail of my family of Boulds/Bowls comes from a village in the Cotswolds which boasts the presence of one of the oldest Norman churches extant in England. The earliest record I have found of our family surname in the Cotswolds is that of Hugh atte Bolde on 24 August 1309 mentioned in the book 'Worcestershire & Gloucestershire Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem, High Court of Chancery 1302-1358., In that book are also records of John Le Bolde September 6, 1341 and and again in 1358 as a witness at an inquisition. The Boulds family are also listed in the Gloucester Calender of Wills 1540-1640.

I studied the Bowles line for over a decade before I came to find my own family. I have a good deal of research which I collected before I hit on the correct family and have a sizable library in digital and hard copy format about the Bowles line. I am a member of the Daughters of The American Revolution and have worked with several Bowles descendants in the U.S.A. on uncovering the origins of their lines. My Bould, Boulds, Bowlds, Bowles, & Bowls Facebook Page has regularly updated data for use by those who are interested in exploring it.


My family members were early participants in the Bowles DNA project via Family Tree DNA and participated in the National Genographic Project.The Bowles DNA project is robust and has an active group of both genetic and genealogical researchers. There are a large percentage of participants who live in the United States, however Ireland, England, Australia and other countries are represented as well.My own family line has the DNA haplogroup marker of I1. This designation has seen changes over recent years, but the current agreed upon status is that these were people of Norse origin. There are a significant number of Bowles participants in the DNA study whose Haplo Group is R1b1a2 and another group well represented is Haplogroup J2. Links to research these lines are below.