This name is of English locational origin either from Bowley near Leominster in Herefordshire, or from a place in Shropshire called Booley. The former was first recorded as Bolelei in the Domesday Book of 1086, and the latter as Boleley circa 1100 in Ancient Records of Shropshire. Both places are so called from the Old English pre 7th Century 'bula', a bull, plus 'leah', a clearing in a wood. Locational names were usually given to the Lord of the Manor, and as a means of identification to those who left their place of birth to seek work elsewhere. This surname is particularly well recorded in Herefordshire church registers from the mid 16th Century. On December 1st 1548 Catherinam Bowley and Johannem Beysie were married in Bromyard, (Herefordshire), and on January 17th 1598 Jane Bowley married a William Carr in St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. Robert Bowley (1813 - 1870), amateur musician, originated the plan of Handel festivals in 1856. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jacobum Bowley, (marriage to Eleanorum Upton), which was dated February 10th 1540, Bromyard, Herefordshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, 'Bluff King Hal', 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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