BOWLE, Richard (c.1550-1626), ?of Brackley, Northants. ?later of Chesham, Bucks.

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

b. c.1550. m. (1) Mary (d.1607), 2s. 2da.; (2) Anne, da. of Thomas Revet of Rishangles and Bildeston, Suff., wid. of Anthony Bates, merchant, of London and of Thomas Talbot of London.1

Offices Held

?Auditor to earls of Derby, and to 3rd Earl of Bedford.


It has been assumed that the MP for Brackley in 1593 was the Richard Bowle, described as ‘auditor and overseer’, who presided over a view of frankpledge at Brackley in October 1579. Presumably he was in the service of the earls of Derby, who owned the borough, or of Mary, the 3rd Earl’s widow, who held it as part of her dower. His return to Parliament 14 years later suggests a lengthy attachment to the Stanleys, but unfortunately nothing has been ascertained about this period of his life. It does, however, appear likely that he was the man of this name living at Chesham during the reign of James I. The clue is provided by a monumental inscription which records that Richard Bowie of Chesham ‘faithfully served divers great lords as auditor’. As he was auditor to Edward, 3rd Earl of Bedford, during the latter part of his life, and nothing is known about his earlier days to controvert the assumption, it is reasonable to surmise that he was the same man who had once held a similar position at Brackley. Further, it is likely that the Chesham family came originally from Lancashire, where an introduction to the Earl of Derby could have occurred.2

Richard Bowle of Chesham settled there just after the turn of the century on land leased to him by his master the 3rd Earl of Bedford. His first wife was buried there in 1607. He soon became a prominent parishioner and is believed to have been the author of an account which still survives of the restoration of the parish church. He contributed generously to the repairs and persuaded Bedford to do the same. As well as enjoying the ‘patent of the auditorship of the possessions of the earldom of Bedford’, as he describes it in his will, he is also found exercising the Earl’s ecclesiastical patronage in Devon, together with Richard Waltham and Walter Wentworth. In 1619 he and others acted on behalf of the Countess of Bedford in leasing customs due upon coal sold at Newcastle. He made his will on 30 Sept. 1624. It contains a religious preamble:

I commend my soul to Almighty God, my most loving Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, my all-sufficient Redeemer, beseeching Him to forgive me all my sins and to increase my faith, to increase my repentance and sanctification, and to continue with me and in me the comfort of His Holy Spirit unto my life’s end.

He left his wife a life interest in their home at Chesham Woburn, together with the household goods including ‘my little striking clock’. To his eldest son John, then dean of Salisbury and shortly to become bishop of Rochester, he left a gold ring, an ivory seal and several other items, as a token of love ‘though not worthy of his state’. John’s son Richard received his grandfather’s ‘greatest bible’. Provision was also made for Bowle’s other son, Benjamin, who was to enjoy an income from some property leased in Devonshire, and for his two daughters, who were married to Matthew Chase and John Audley. Chase, who succeeded Bowie as Bedford’s auditor, was appointed sole executor and eventually inherited most of the property. Friends and relatives mentioned in the will include Sir Robert Heath, the future judge, and Sir John Revet of Bildeston, Suffolk.

Bowle died in December 1626, in his 77th year, and was buried at Chesham.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. Bucks. Recs. ix. 329-30; Hoare, Wilts. Alderbury, 63, though Bowle’s children could not have been by his second wife; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 162.
  • 2. Northants. RO, Ellesmere mss; PCC 17 Skinner; Bucks. Recs. ix. 329; DNB (Bowle, John).
  • 3. J. W. Garrett-Pegge, ‘Richard Bowle’s Bk.’, Bucks. Recs. ix. 329-48; x. 1-18; mss of bishops of Exeter, vol. 21, ff. 97, 98v. 108v; CSP Dom. 1618-23, p. 61; PCC 17 Skinner.