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Thomas Rowley/Bowley/Bewley of Cirencester

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


KeithG Report 22 Oct 2013 22:56

I'd be grateful of some help with lateral thinking and perhaps searches please.

I'm researching the Hamilton family who lived in Beaminster, Dorset, around 1800. John & Elizabeth were the parents of Sarah born 1810 or 1813, she married a Thomas Bewley / Bowley according to a transcript of the marriage record - two transcripts give the two different spellings - aged 21 in 1834 and hailing from Cirencester at the time of the marriage.

I'd like to sort out the correct spelling (someone else has found him as Rowley just to make it more fun!). I can't find a birth for him (unless I want to wade through 1000s of records or more :-S, so I'm wondering if anyone here can suggest a way of getting him "right".



Reggie Report 22 Oct 2013 23:05

What surname is on the census records for Sarah and her husband?

One assumes they weren't both deceased before 1841................


Reggie Report 22 Oct 2013 23:07

Day:24Month:OctYear:1834Groom Forenames:ThomasGroom Surname:BOWLEYGroom's parish:CirencesterGroom's county:Gloucestershire,EnglandGroom's condition:bacGroom's occupation:Groom's age:21Groom's notes:Bride Forenames:SarahBride Surname:HAMILTONBride's parish:BeaminsterBride's county:Dorset,EnglandBride's condition:spBride's age:21Bride's notes:Place of Marriage:BeaminsterBondsman 1:Bondsman 2:Jurisdiction:The Dean of Sarum in Wiltshire, Berksh

Day:28Month:OctYear:1834Groom Forenames:ThomasGroom Surname:BEWLEYGroom notes:Grooms parish:of Cirencester, GloucsBride Forenames:SarahBride Surname:HAMILTONBride notes:Brides parish:o t pBy licence:Place:BeaminsterDedication:County:DorsetCountry:EnglandWitnesses:John HAMILTON, Catherine HAMILTON, John OLIVER (PC).Record source:Dorset Marriages
Find out more Data provider:Dorset FHS Transcriptions © Dorset Family History Society


Reggie Report 22 Oct 2013 23:09

1851 census

Person: BOWLY, Sarah Address: Golden Farm, Cirencester

BOWLY, Thomas Head Married M 44 1807 Draper & Silk Mercer
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLY, Sarah Wife Married F 40 1811
Beaminster, Dorset VIEW
BOWLY, Charles Son Unmarried M 6 1845 Scholar At Home
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLY, Clement Son Unmarried M 5 1846 Scholar At Home
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLY, Mary Daughter Unmarried F 9 1842 Scholar At Home
Stratton, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLY, Theophila Daughter Unmarried F 8 1843 Scholar At Home
Stratton, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLY, Sarah Ann Daughter Unmarried F 1 1850
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
HAMILTON, Katherine Visitor Unmarried F 45 1806
Beaminster, Dorset VIEW
PEARSONS, Sarah Jane Servant Unmarried F 20 1831 House Maid
Bath, Somerset VIEW
BUCKINGHAM, Elizabeth Servant Unmarried F 23 1828 Cook
Tetbury, Gloucestershire VIEW
GAY, Elizabeth Servant Unmarried F 15 1836 Nurse Maid
Cirencester, Gloucestershire


Reggie Report 22 Oct 2013 23:11

1861 census

Person: BOWLEY, Sarah Address: Dyer Street, Cirencester

BOWLEY, Thomas Head Married M 54 1807 Draper
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLEY, Sarah Wife Married F 52 1809 Silk Mason
Kidderminster, Dorsetshire VIEW
BOWLEY, Mary Daughter Unmarried F 19 1842
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLEY, Theophilus Daughter Unmarried F 18 1843
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLEY, Chas K Son Unmarried M 16 1845
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLEY, Sarah Ann Daughter Unmarried F 11 1850
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BOWLEY, Herbert Son Unmarried M 7 1854
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
MILL, Susan Assistant Unmarried F 27 1834 Shop Woman
..., Devon VIEW
HORSEY, Louisa Assistant Unmarried F 22 1839 Shop Woman
Crewkerne, Dorset VIEW
LANE, Fanny Assistant Unmarried F 20 1841 Shop Woman
Cirencester, Gloucestershire VIEW
BROMELL, Christoper Assistant Unmarried M 20 1841 Shop Man
Greenhead, Northumberland VIEW
SMITH, Henry Assistant Unmarried M 24 1837 Shop Man
Cricklade, Wiltshire VIEW
HISCOOKS, John Cole Apprentice Unmarried M 16 1845 Apprentice
Minety, Wiltshire VIEW
BRAUD, Sarah Servant Unmarried F 26 1835 Cook
Preston, Gloucestershire VIEW
PALMER, Jane Servant Unmarried F 20 1841 House Maid
Cricklade, Wiltshire VIEW
HIGNELL, Hannah Servant Unmarried F 14 1847 House Servant
Ledbury, Gloucestershire

Correction for Sarah's birthplace submitted to FMP


KeithG Report 22 Oct 2013 23:28

Ach, Bowly - thank you Reggie.

That a Hamilton was visiting in 1851 is valuable confirmation.

Please can you say to what this refers:

Correction for Sarah's birthplace submitted to FMP

I can see that Sarah is given as being from Kidderminster in the second record which I believe ought to be Beaminster, but is there any way of knowing who spotted the error, when it was reported, and how it might be handled?

Thanks again, Reggie, that was valuable.



Reggie Report 23 Oct 2013 09:48

I reported it!!!!!!!

And the transcription will be amended..............


Potty Report 23 Oct 2013 12:57

Ancestry has the image of the Church register. Only thing to add to Reggie's post is that both signed the Register.


Potty Report 23 Oct 2013 12:59

There's no way of getting his name "right". Spelling was not so important back then and even members of the same family spelt their names differently.


Potty Report 23 Oct 2013 13:06

Her baptism record (the image is available and gives her DOB as Oct 1):

Name: Sarah Hamilton
Mother: Elizabeth Hamilton
Father: John Hamilton
Baptism: 4 Nov 1810 - Beaminster


KeithG Report 23 Oct 2013 22:19

Thank you Potty, that's useful confirmation.



mgnv Report 24 Oct 2013 00:41

Using gets:
Child Surname Child Forename Father Surname Mother Surname Mother's Former Name Year District Office Register Entry
BOWLY Daniel BOWLY BOWLY HAMILTON 1839 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 2 215
BOWLY Theophila BOWLY BOWLY HAMILTON 1843 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 4 211
BOWLEY Charles William BOWLEY BOWLEY HAMILTON 1844 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 5 238
BOWLY Clement BOWLY BOWLY HAMILTON 1846 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 6 271
BOWLY Francis Hamilton BOWLY BOWLY HAMILTON 1851 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 9 429
BOWLY Herbert BOWLY BOWLY HAMILTON 1853 Cirencester Cirencester, Cirencester 11 128


KeithG Report 24 Oct 2013 07:30

That's really useful, thank you mgnv. I'm still relatively new to this and I've tended to think that the centralised resources are what's available, but it seems that different councils, parishes, ...., have different approaches, different amounts of information on line, and different ways of presenting / accessing it. And of course it's changing all the time.

Is it just a question of happening across the information by chance, or is there a central "directory" somewhere that lists ALL of the resources?

Thanks again!



KeithG Report 24 Oct 2013 07:55

I'm curious why Sarah:

BOWLY, Sarah Ann Daughter Unmarried F 1 1850
BOWLEY, Sarah Ann Daughter Unmarried F 11 1850


BOWLY, Mary Daughter Unmarried F 9 1842
BOWLEY, Mary Daughter Unmarried F 19 1842

might appear in the census records but not in the births. I have no idea whether it's important or not, but if someone has ideas why it might be I'd be interested.



+++DetEcTive+++ Report 24 Oct 2013 11:30

It wasn't compulsory to register a birth in England/Wales until the mid 1870's - possibly 1873. Admittedly it is strange that siblings born either side of the girls where, but they weren't!


mgnv Report 24 Oct 2013 15:52

I think maybe this family thought girls weren't as impt as boys - note the boys are listed before their older sisters in 1851.


Throughout most of English history, there were less the 4 dozen cathedrals, but even I am aware of 2 that burned down - Old St Paul's in 1666 and Coventry in 1940. I don't know if their parish registers survived these events, but it does suggest the need for back-up copies.

So lets look at an event from FreeBMD:

Surname First name(s) Age District Vol Page
Deaths Jun 1845 (>99%)
BOWLEY Theophila Cirencester 11 191

So when Theophila died, the informant went to his local subdistrict registery office and rego'ed the death. At the end of the quarter, all the death entries in that quartter were copied onto special forms for the GRO. In 1845, these forms had twice as many entries per page as the local register. These copies went to the district superintendent in Cirencester who checked them over, gathered the copies from the other subdistricts and shipped the copies off to the GRO. He hung onto any full registers. The GRO took the bundles from each district, bound them into volumes which covered multiple districts, and indexed them. So nowadays, one can buy a BMD.cert from either the local office that holds the appropriate rego, orfrom the GRO who holds the back-up copy. Most local offices don't have scanning capabilities, so they make a fresh copy for you if you buy from them (Birmingham is an exception) - the GRO issues scans of their copies.

Now, to locate a GRO entry, one needs to know which vol to find it in - here 1845q2 11 would suffice, then the page # and name nearly always identify the entry - not always, though - you might get 2 John Smiths born in the same RD around the same time - really, after 10s of millions of births, this must have happened. The age (post-1866) and the district name are really redundant for locating the cert matching the index entry (but not for the person seeking to identify an index entry).

Here's the matching local index entry:

Surname Given Names Age Year Died District Register Entry
BOWLY Theophila 36 1845 Cirencester, Cirencester 4 115

Now, to locate this local rego, one needs to know the subdistrict and which rego within that subdistrict - the , Cirencester 4 bit - the Cirencester, bit says where this rego's now housed, since this index covers multiple modern RDs. Lastly, the Entry # 115 identifies the entry - some local indexes give the local page #, especially for Bs & Ds - then one would need the name also. (A local rego has 500 entries - 5 per page for Bs & Ds, 2 per page for Ms.)

Bs are similar to Ds. Local Ms need to know the church (or else, that it's in the registrar's own rego) to identify the rego. is a portal to online local indexes.

Here's some examples:

Year of Birth: 1838
Register Book, Entry Number: NS1, 253

Marriage date: 1838
Register Book, Entry Number: C24-1, 78
PUNSHON, Margaret
Marriage date: 1838
Register Book, Entry Number: C24-1, 78
(here I look at the postal application form to get some ref info)

1840 - ROBSON John
Register No./Entry No.

1837 ROBSON John
1837 CHARLTON Isabella
Marriage venue - Cathedral of St Nicholas
Register No./Entry No.

1840 RUDDICK Jane
1840 ROBSON John
Marriage venue - Church unknown
Register No./Entry No.

These local indexes do identify the subdistrict, but it's encoded as NS or ALS and you're left to guess it's North Shields or All Saints. It helps to know I can take a FreeBMD hit and click on the district name, say Cirencester, then the more info "here" link to see the vilages in the RD, and things like:

Registration County : Gloucestershire.
Created : 1.7.1837
Abolished : 1.4.2006 (to become part of Gloucestershire registration district).
Sub-districts : Cirencester, Cotswold, Fairford, Northleach
GRO volumes : XI (1837–51), 6a (1852–1946), 7B (1946–74), 22 (1974–92).
Registers currently held at : Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

This identifies the names all the subdistricts that were ever in the RD - until 1937 these were Cirencester, Cotswold, Fairford

Ms were handlled similar to Bs/Ds, but here the established church, jews and quakers were authorized to keep official marr regos - post 1898, non-conformist were authorized too (RCs post 1980ish). Before 1898, a marr in a non-conformist church needed the registrar to attend, so the couple could sign his official marr rego (mixed in with all the rego office marrs). The authorized keeper of the church rego (e.g., vicar) would make a copy of a marr cert, and this was entered into the local copy of his church rego. At the end of each quarter, the local copy was checked against the original, and another copy made for the GRO. Any full church rego's were turned over to the district superintendent, and after checking, deposited in some archive, usually the county records office, where they can be viewed

The church also made its own backup copy of its rego's - usualy known as the Bishop's Transcripts, or sometimes, the Archdeacon's Transcripts.


KeithG Report 24 Oct 2013 22:32

On the issue of why some births were recorded and some weren't, I wonder what the benefits were of registration. Why would anyone, least of all a harassed new parent, go through the bureaucratic hassle of registration if it were not required and delivered no benefit?

On the distributed nature of BMD data, if I understand your argument correctly, it started out distributed and has essentially remained so. Central indexes (eg FreeBMD) exist but are at best partial. Presumably because there is no perceived pressing need for centralisation (the spectre of NHS systems lurking in the corridors can't help either ;-))

So, again IIUC, for each area - perhaps diocese, perhaps county - what's available may be different, as may be the ways to access it. Hence for each new area that a search may lead you into, you have to dig around and see what's available.

Is that about right?


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 25 Oct 2013 09:28

Just to clarify one point -

FreeBMD is a charitable organization. Its volunteers transcribe the GRO index. The GRO index is the list held centrally by the General Register Office (GRO) which is part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Other subscription FH sites have transcribed them separately although I think Ancestry uses the FreeBMD version for 1837-1915. Which ever subscription site you use, 1837-1915 should be free to view.

When the Register Offices were first introduced, it used to be that the Registrar went round to rural areas to ask about recent births. Consequently many were missed. However, that was no excuse for your family as they lived in an Urban area!
Many people relied on a certificate of baptism to prove their existence, but then as now, there were some who didn't hold with religious indoctrination or where not members of a State recognized religion/sect - RC springs to mind.


mgnv Report 25 Oct 2013 20:12

Expanding upon DetEcTive's points. The GRO index is essentially complete - of course, there are some errors and omissions in an index with 100s of millions of entries. FreeBMD aims to transcribe the written portion of the index, i.e., thru 1983. After that it went computerized. No index has been released since (I think) 2005. FreeBMD's transcription is incomplete, butthey have nearly all the images of the pages thru 1983 - these are viewable via their klunky view images link on their homepage. They have essentially completed the transcription of all but 9 quarters thru the 1950s - that's the significance of the (>99%) item in my earlier post. The incomplete quarters thru the 1950s are:

Births Jun 1940 (89%) **************
Births Sep 1940 (0%) **************
Births Sep 1943 (62%) **************
Births Dec 1943 (1%) **************
Births Dec 1945 (99%) *
Births Sep 1958 (63%) **************
Births Dec 1958 (0%) **************
Marriages Sep 1952 (51%) *******************
Marriages Dec 1952 (0%) *******************

Collectively these 9 rego's are abt half done - 8 m ago they were a third done, and there were 12 other pre-1960 regos that have been essentially completed in the last 8 m. 55% of the 1960s regos are also essentially completely transcribed by FreeBMD, and nothing later is complete. FreeBMD usually updates every 4 w.


The early laws are given here:
An Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England [17th August 1836.]

The key sections as far as this issue is concened are:
XVIII ...and every Registrar shall be authorized and is hereby required to inform himself carefully of every Birth and every Death which shall happen within his District after the said First Day of March, and to learn and register soon after the Event as conveniently may be done...
XIX And be it enacted, That the Father or Mother of any Child born, or the Occupier of every House or Tenement in England in which any Birth or Death shall happen...may...give Notice of such Birth or Death to the Registrar of the District ...
XX And be it enacted, That the Father or Mother of every child born in England after the said First Day of March, or in case of the Death, Illness, Absence, or Inability of the Father or Mother, the Occupier of the House or Tenement in which such Child shall have been born, shall ...give Information, upon being requested so to do, to the said Registrar

That act was later clarified, and some omissions corrected, but the key provision was to delay the 1836 act until 1/7/1837:
An Act to explain and amend Two Acts passed in the last Session of Parliament, for Marriages and for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages, in England. [30th June 1837.]

Not putting the onus for rego'ing births on the parents was a mistake.
That mistake wasn't made when civil registration was introduced in Scotland in 1/1/1855, but the English/Welsh act wasn't fixed until:

An Act to amend the Law relating to the Registration of Births and Deaths in England, and to consolidate the Law respecting the Registration of Births and Deaths at Sea. [7th August 1874.]
The first provision was:
1. In the case of every child born alive after the commencement of this Act, it shall be the duty of the father and mother of the child, and in default of the father and mother, of the occupier of the house in which to his knowledge the child is born, and of each person present at the birth, and of the person having charge of the child, to give to the registrar, within forty-two days next after such birth, and in the presence of the registrar to sign the register.
There is similar "it shall be the duty of" wording for death rego'ing in section 10, and a fine up to 2GBP is introduced for non-compliance (Section 39).

So far as I can see, there was no reason for rego'ing a birth, except it was the law that births should be rego'ed. Maybe it was a sense of civic duty, like someone might display by picking up litter they come across.

Birth rego's have to be localized - if everyone had to trek to London (where the GRO was thru 1965 at least), there'ld hardly be any births rego'ed. It also makes sense that the GRO backups should be housed at one location.


Re records - it's not really a question of differing records. The systems covered all of England - local parish rego's or civil BMD rego's, with backup at a higher level, whether dioscean or GRO, with the church records deposited in some suitable archive. All these are equally available to view. It really only differs when one starts to look at what's been transcribed, and what records are available online.


KeithG Report 25 Oct 2013 21:53

Thanks very much for explaining the background. I still have a lot to learn!!

My comment on completeness sprung from my recent discovery of Online Parish Clerks who seem to be doing a wonderful job of transcribing local, parish, data. This sometimes has additional information over and above the FreeBMD / GRO etc.