The Argentine Gowlands


These notes have been very kindly contributed in February 2007 by Mr Ion Corcondilas of Paris, France, whose wife, Janet Gowland, is descended from the Argentine Gowlands, and whose Tree of the founders of the dynasty is below.



Thomas Gowland (1728 - 1779) married Emma Elizabeth Chamberlayne (1745 - 1802): they were both born in Durham and both died in London.  Ella was the daughter of Edmund Chamberlayne (1706 - 1776) and Elizabeth Atkyns  -  she was a descendant of Sir Robert Atkyns (1647 - 1711).   Their son was  -


Thomas Gowland (1768 - 1833, born in England and died in Buenos Aires. 

He was sent to Buenos Aires in 1804 or 1805 (probably 1805) by the British Government to protect British inhabitants’ interests in Argentina during this difficult period of war and insecurity. He then returned to England.

He returned to Buenos Aires on the 28th June 1812, accompanied by his wife Sarah (nee Phillips) (1776 - 1837) and their two children, Daniel and Thomas.  A third son, Juan Antonio, and two daughters, Emma and Ellen Mary, were subsequently born.

Thomas Snr became a tradesman and estanciero (cattle rancher). 


Daniel Gowland (1798 - 1883 was born in Camberwell, London, Surrey, and died in Buenos Aires.  He and his brother Thomas built the first railway in Argentina which was inaugurated in 1857.   The brothers were known as “Los Compradores de La Porteña [The Buyers of La Porteña ]  (the first steam locomotive in Argentina).  This locomotive was built in Leeds and was reputed to have been used during the siege of Sebastopol in the Crimean War.

[For more information, click on Google Argentina, and insert "Porte"  -  don't insert "Porteña unless you are able to include the tilde, since the Search function will not assume its existence.   For representative web pages click here and here  -  in this latter website, the first locomotive pictured is "La Porteña]

In 1833 he was an estanciero in Guadara in Patagonia (Southern Argentina).

In 1852 he founded the “Club of Progress” with five friends, dedicated to “promoting ideas and individuals, eliminating egotism, and extending the firmest protection to work”

In 1854 he founded the “Society for the Exploration and Exploitation of Patagonia”, and established a colony there at Chubat.

He was a founder of the Explorers’ Club.  He was effectively the chairman of the English businessmen and a patriarch of the British community.

He was a director of the Banco Nacional de las Provincias Unidas, and held many public posts. 

He returned to England on two occasions, on one of these trips buying the locomotive La Porteña [see above]. 

Thomas Gowland (1803 - 1880) was born in England, and also died in England.

He was as an estanciero in River Plate Province.   

With his brother Daniel, he was one of the founders, and subsequently the vice-president, of the first railway company in Argentina, which commenced operations on 30th August 1857.  

He founded the Argentinian Gas Company, was the first naturalised foreigner to hold a seat on the city council, and held many public posts.    He also acted as an auctioneer. 


Juan Antonio Gowland (? - 1880) was born in Buenos Aires and died in Montevideo. 

He travelled to Montevideo, Uruguay, when very young, becoming a prominent merchant.  The street “Calle Gowland” in Montevideo was named after him, but later the name was changed to “Calle General Peron”. 

He married a young Uruguayan bride and they had many children in Uruguay. 


Emma Gowland died unmarried


Ellen Mary (Fanny) Gowland (? - 1865) was born in Buenos Aires, and died there also. 

She married an Englishman George (Jorge) Dowdall, originally born in Ireland.


To supplement these biographical details, a few other points   . . . .


The Argentinian Gowlands originated in Durham.  Family tradition always stated that they were descended from William the Conqueror, and they did not believe that their ancestors came from Yorkshire.  

They very kindly provided the illustration below of the "Gowland Crest", easily the most accurate version we have ever seen.


They are researching their Gowland ancestors, but it is difficult because the Durham Gowlands were very prolific and there are so many Thomases, Ralphs etc.  (Even in Argentina they produced very many children.  The first generation of the three brothers and two sisters had between them eighteen children, and the second generation from Thomas alone had forty-seven children!) 

The actor Gibson Gowland is known to belong to the family, but the “cousin actor” was not mentioned within the family! 

There is a plaque in a church in Little Ilford reading “In memory of Thomas Gowland  -  Emma Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Chamberlayne, of Mangerbury”. 

In Argentina there is a small town named “Gowland” near Buenos Aires; and an “Avenida Gowland” in the province of Buenos Aires, in the “Partido de Almirante Brown”.   Also at Belgrano (in the province of Buenos Aires) there is a grand Palacio Gowland.

The ancestry of Thomas Gowland’s wife Emma Elizabeth nee Chamberlayne has been traced back to Sir Robert Atkyns (1637 - 1711).  He was a well known author.  In 1712, the year after his death, was published posthumously “The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire”.  On page 694 appears in colour the full pedigree of the Chamberlayne / Chamberlain / Tankerville families, and in there appears John Earl of Tankerville, described as a companion of William the Conqueror who fought with him at the Battle of Hastings  -  John Earl is a direct ancestor of Emma Elizabeth Chamberlayne.

A student at the University of San Andres is working on a paper dealing with the leading families at the time of Argentina's gaining of independance, and in Spring 2007 she is hoping to be studying the Gowland family: it is hoped that we shall be able to publish a copy of her paper.

An interesting article on the early history of the Argentinian Railways,  including numerous references to the Gowland brothers, can be found under