Fowler Surname Genealogy

surname Fowler is believed to have come from the Old English fugal meaning “fowl” and fugelere,
a hunter of wild
birds. In the medieval period a fowler
would have been an important position and all major houses would have
employed one.
name of Richard Fugelere appeared as a witness in
Lancashire’s assize courts in 1218. But
the Fowler spelling had taken hold by 1300.

Fowler Resources on

Fowler Ancestry

first Fowler

of record was Richard
Fowler of Foxley
in Buckinghamshire.
He accompanied
the Lionhearted to Palestine in 1191 and was rewarded for his valor
with lands
and a coat of arms.

The subsequent
line would seem to have gone via Reginaldus le Fowler, who was recorded
in Shryvenham,
in 1301, and later onto:

  • Sir
    William Fowler, who lived in Rycote, Oxfordshire. He was granted
    Preston Manor in Buckinghamshire for his services to King Edward IV and
    he died there in
  • his
    son Sir Richard Fowler, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer under
    Edward IV
    in 1469 (although his son, known as “Sir Richard the Foolish,” was a
    great spendthrift and lost most of the family estates).
  • and
    later Fowlers who resided at Harnage Grange in Shropshire.

Sir Richard the elder died in 1477,
he left money for a monk to sing a daily service at St. Dunstan’s
chapel in
Westminster Abbey “where my father lies buried.”

Fowler name cropped up in Islington, then a village outside London, in
Tudor times. Thomas Fowler, a merchant
in Calais when it was still in English hands, acquired Barnesbury Manor
1542. Queen Elizabeth seems to have been
partial to Islington and made frequent visits to the Fowler home there. The male line died out in 1656 and the manor
passed to Sir Thomas Fisher who had married the heiress Sarah.

Fowlers in Gloucestershire were:

  • the
    Fowlers of Bisley, starting with
    Thomas Fowler who was born there around 1520. One
    line of this family moved to Derbyshire and then, with Deacon John
    Fowler, crossed
    the Atlantic
    to Connecticut in the 1640’s.
  • the
    Fowlers of Stroudwater who prospered in the local cloth
    industry. Richard Fowler was a clothier
    who took a lease on a mill at Stonehouse in 1533. These
    Fowlers remained clothiers there until
    the late 18th century.
  • and
    the learned printer John
    Fowler, born in Bristol in 1537, who opposed the Protestant tendencies
    England and took his press to Antwerp to aid the Catholic cause.

The later distribution
of the Fowler surname
showed it widely spread, but with
three concentrations – one
around London in the southeast, a second in the southwest with
Gloucestershire prominent, and a third around
Yorkshire and

Robert Fowler was a
Protestant clergyman from Lincolnshire who settled in Ireland in the
1760’s and
became the Archbishop of Dublin. His
son, also named Robert, was Bishop of Ossory.
A later Robert of this family, born in Meath, earned schoolboy
for his all-round performance in the 1910 Eton vs. Harrow cricket match
came to be known as Fowler’s match.

Scotland. The Fowler name
extended into Scotland, mainly on the East Coast from
Edinburgh to Aberdeen. The early
spelling was Foular:

  • John Foular was an Edinburgh notary who kept the town
    records from 1500 to 1534 in his Protocol
    . Then there was William Fowler, a prominent merchant
    and burgess who lived around that time at Foular’s or
    Fowler’s Close, now Anchor Close. His
    son is thought to have been the poet and courtier William Fowler.
  • David
    Foular’s birth was recorded in Nigg,
    in 1686. One Fowler line has been traced from the
    of William and Isobel Fowler there in 1751.

In 1657
Robert Fowler
from Bridlington in Yorkshire led the second party of Quakers to
Massachusetts. He departed London for America with eleven Quakers
on his small sloop the Woodhouse,
with few of them having any experience of sailing. Remarkably
they all landed safely on Long Island only
a few miles from their intended destination and moved up the coast to
the Quaker safe haven in Rhode Island.

Another Fowler arrival in Rhode Island was Henry Fowler from Rutland
who had come in 1653 and married Rebecca Newell in Providence two years
later. Their son William was in Queens, Long Island
in New York state by 1680 and later moved to Westchester

In the early 1700’s there was an Indian at Montauk, Long Island by the
name of James Fowler. A descendant David Fowler was one of
the founders of Brothertown in Oneida county, New York in 1775.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, Fowlers in America were most
numerous in New York state. Sylvanus Fowler, born in Newburgh,
migrated to Tennessee in the 1790’s.

Many Fowlers entered America via Virginia. Among the early
arrivals were:

  • Francis Fowler who came with Captain Roger Smith in 1622 as a
    young lad and survived the massacre in Jamestown the following
    But he was dead by about 1640.
  • and the Quaker John Fowler from Wiltshire who came on the Hopewell in 1662 and settled in
    Henrico county. His line has been covered in Grover P.
    Fowler’s 1940 book The
    House of Fowler

Joyce’s 1991 book Annals of the
Fowler Family
traced early Fowlers in Virginia and the lines of
Joseph Fowler in North Carolina and Godfrey Fowler in Kentucky.

New Zealand. John
Fowler had been a policeman in Ramsbury, Wiltshire.
It was said that when he had to arrest some
striking farm workers, he decided to resign from the force rather than
them to Tasmania as their jailer. Instead
he departed for New Zealand with his family, arriving there in 1842. They were one of the early settlers at Riwaka
Nelson. Their young son George, born in
New Zealand, was drowned in the Riwaka river in 1848.
But the rest of the family survived. John
lived onto 1888.

Fowler Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Fowler Names

Richard Fowler of Foxley was an English commanding officer in Palestine
in the 1190’s
during the Third Crusade.
Henry Watson Fowler
was an early 20th
century writer on English usage, best known for his A
Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
Henry Fowler
was US Secretary of the Treasury from 1965 to 1968 under the Johnson
administration. Kevin Fowler
is better known as the actor Kevin Spacey (his
grandmother’s maiden name)

Select Fowlers Today

  • 29,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 37,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 24,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)





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