Written 18th May 2006 by Neil Gowlland.







The annex to this article summarises, for the first time, the births, marriages and deaths of the Gowlland family in the 18th century from the time of Joseph and Susanna Gowlland. It only traces Gowllands and, therefore, excludes the children of married Gowlland girls. Even though a lot of the family appears to have been traced, there are still gaps, which hopefully will be filled over time.


To ensure comparability with the modern calendar, I have used the MC convention (click here for an explanation) for dates of four events prior to 1752 (the marriage of Joseph and Susanna, the births of two of their sons, George and Stephen, and the appraisal signed by Joseph). The results of maintaining comparability with the modern calendar are not earth-shattering. As a practical example, however, Thomas, the first of Joseph and Susanna’s children, was born nine months after the marriage but, if the year of the marriage had been shown under the Old Calendar, it would have seemed that he was born a year and nine months after. Also, Stephen was 23 at the time of his marriage in 1770 and not 24 as it would otherwise have seemed.


The start point for the research was notes made by GPG, presumably in the 1950s, of some Gowlland marriage records he had found. Unfortunately, he did not follow them up, I suspect because they did not fit in with the then current belief that the change of spelling from Gowland to Gowlland dated from around 1800 and that it was Stephen Gowlland who changed his name following a family quarrel - that well-known family legend. However, the notes did make me decide to explore the truth of the name-change legend and the results prove that it was not true. Based on the signatures on marriage records, the Gowlland spelling was consistently used by the children and grand-children of Joseph and Susanna, apart from a couple of illiterates, and Joseph himself used the same spelling.


My research relied on several sources, including the Buckland by Dover births and the birth registrations at the Register of Nonconformist Births of the Dr Williams’ Library that Rosemary found. The IGI (the International Genealogical Index of the Mormon Church) provided some information, notably the birth of Susanna, but it was Dorothy Holden, a volunteer researcher in Dover, who discovered a large part of the new information, including the all-important document dating from 1748 MC with Joseph’s signature. The Gowlland family as a whole has benefited considerably from her efforts, which I would like to recognise here. More recently, a few more documents have been found and these have been incorporated into the annex.


I should perhaps mention here that the preamble of the 1748 MC document, in fact an appraisal, with Joseph’s signature mentions that one of the two appraisers was Joseph Goulder of Buckland by Dover. This is not the only occasion where Goulders in Buckland by Dover have proved to be Gowllands (see the first children of George, born 1740 MC). However, I suspect it was probably a mistake on the part of whoever prepared the appraisal. Without in any way researching the matter, it seems from the IGI that there was a Goulder family in Buckland by Dover during part of the 18th century and other Goulders in Dover itself.





The birth, marriage and death information in the annex is perhaps structured in an unusual manner but, since my purpose was to track the spelling of our family name, it has proved practical. The annex starts with Joseph and Susanna (click here). From that page, links are set up to pages for each of their children.


I have summarised not only all the Gowlland signatures on marriage records but also the name as written by whoever wrote the various birth, marriage and death registers. Whilst many are, of course, in the name of Gowland, and also Goulder in two or three cases and Gouland in one, a surprising number of records are in the name of Gowlland. It should be noted that, as a general rule, and not only in the 18th century, the spelling of names by whoever wrote the records is notoriously unreliable. Where signatures are available, they are the only acceptably reliable indicators of spelling.


Virtually all of the information is supported by copies of original records, which are now on their way to Rosemary’s archives. Where other sources have been used, they are noted.


By and large, the annex is just straight information but I have sometimes added comments where appropriate.


One marriage record that is not included is the very interesting one between Hannah Gowlland and Walter Mond on 26/10/1802 at St Mary Northgate, Canterbury, which John has just published. I have seen no trace of her birth and think that she was born in Canterbury and not Dover.





Two points emerged from correspondence with the researcher at Canterbury Cathedral Archives.


Firstly, the fact that almost all of the 18th century family signed their names implies a higher degree of literacy than would be the norm for what I suspect was the social background of Joseph’s antecedents (agricultural workers or small tradesmen).


Secondly, the spelling of names did not become uniform until well into the 19th century, at any rate for Joseph’s likely social background. The complete consistency of the Gowlland spelling from the first half of the 18th century is unusual though I am not sure what, if anything, can be inferred from it. Perhaps Joseph, if indeed it was he who settled on the spelling, had acquired a somewhat better education than others of his background and decided to use the two Ls, perhaps to distinguish himself from the rest of his family. Of course, for all we know, Joseph may not have been born a Gowland but something similar, such as Gouland. It is very unlikely but not impossible.


Since the publication of the above comments in the first version of this article, Richard Joscelyne sent me a very interesting remark on his research into the Joslin family:


“It does seem … that in the late 17th or early 18th centuries some families, or branches of them, made a determined effort to establish a “correct” spelling of their name. I think this happened when families, or certain members of them, moved from their farming roots to become traders of one kind or another, generally at first in small country towns not far from their roots. The proper spelling of a name became a kind of “trade-mark” to make things easier as they entered into a cash economy. And of course literacy became necessary.”


This seems to me a very likely explanation for the adoption of the Gowlland spelling and I suspect that it was Joseph, rather than for example his father, who made the transition from an agricultural background.


In any event, I do not think that the adoption of the two Ls was the result of a quarrel. In an age when in general the spelling of names was not uniform, I find it difficult to believe that a quarrel could lead to the change of something as relatively unimportant as a name, especially when the change, adding a second L, was so very slight. I feel that concerns about name spelling in later times, including ours, should not be applied to earlier periods.





We do not, of course, know how the legend developed. Was a quarrel invented to explain what was then believed to be Stephen’s name change? Or was there really a quarrel which became associated with the believed change? At the very least, since there was no change of name, we are left with a possible major quarrel.


If that quarrel involved Stephen, I think that the reason may have been religious. None of the children of Stephen and Sarah was baptised in the C of E churches of the parishes in which they were born. We also know that the family was nonconformist since all of the births were registered retroactively at Dr Williams’ Library. I therefore suspect that Stephen and, probably, Sarah Symons were nonconformists at the time of their marriage, and that, at some time beforehand, Stephen may have quarrelled with his family over his religious convictions and left Dover for Canterbury.


Another possible reason for a family quarrel could be Josiah’s pre-marital liaison with Peggy Thornton, who was five months pregnant at the time of their marriage.





Apart from the consistency of the Gowlland spelling, this research also identified new major Gowlland lines. Previously, it was believed that there were only two such lines: Richard Symons’ and Stephen’s, both of whom were sons of Stephen and Sarah, née Symons, and grandsons of Joseph and Susanna. The documents John is currently gathering for the Loose Ends and some research I am commissioning at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives will hopefully resolve some of these new Gowlland lines and other open questions.


Stephen was one of the four surviving sons of Joseph and Susanna. The other three were:





Stephen also had a third son:







The family correspondence mentions that either one or four Gowllands were killed in this sea battle. I would assume that, depending on their rank, any Gowlland killed in the battle would have been born between roughly 1750 and 1780.


If there is any truth in the legend, and assuming that no other trace is found, it could account for Joseph, the eldest son of George, born 1740 MC, who was born in 1768. The youngest son, George, was born in 1781 so could be a contender, though a little young. It is also conceivable that the legend could have arisen from the death of one or more of the sons of Gowlland girls. However, they have not been researched after their marriages. Unfortunately, there seems to be no simple way of obtaining information on the approximately 1,000 seamen killed in the battle.


Having said that, I cannot help wondering whether the legend was an embroidered version of the 1790 murder by smugglers of Stephen, born 1763 and the son of George, born 1740 MC.


[March 2010  -  Sarah Gowlland née Sankey's brother Matthew was Mayor of Canterbury in 1799, at which time he organised a collection of £476.19s.6d for the "Relief of the Widows and Children of the Brave Men, who Fell in the Service of their King and Country and for such as have been Wounded in the Glorious Victory obtained by the British Fleet, under command of Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson, Knight of the Bath, over the French Fleet on the 5th August in the Mediterranean".  The battle of the Nile took place on 1st and 2nd August, 1798.  This 1799 mention is another possible origin of the legend of a Gowlland participating in the Battle of the Glorious First of June"]





Limiting myself strictly to the 18th century, all that we know at the moment is:





Whilst we know nothing about Joseph’s occupation, Simon Starr who was the co-signatory of the 1748 MC appraisal was a joiner. I would therefore imagine that Joseph had a similar trade. I also suspect that, since he took part in an appraisal, he must have been a respected member of the community.




From the time, presumably before his marriage, that Joseph moved to Buckland by Dover from wherever he was born, the family lived mostly in the greater Dover area (Buckland by Dover and the two Dover parishes of St Mary’s and St James’) or, in the case of his son Stephen, in Canterbury (from before 1770). By and large, the family married locally and even when this was not the case, (ignoring Thomas, born 1749) the marriage partners were also from Kent.


However, the inevitable drift to London started with Thomas, born 1749, who moved away from Buckland by Dover before his marriage in London in 1772 and continued with Stephen, born 1775, who moved to London around 1802.


Nevertheless, at the turn of the century, the family was still essentially Kentish.




A total of seven Gowllands, including Joseph and Susanna, were buried in Hougham and another two were buried in Alkham. Both these villages are sufficiently close to be considered part of the greater Dover area. Though why these burials did not take place in Dover itself is something of a mystery. It is possible that, at least in the case of the Hougham burials, there was either a lack of space in the Dover parish of St Mary’s and/or it was cheaper to buy land outside the town, and the same may have been true for the Alkham burials.


Incidentally, the records of both these villages have been checked for other signs of Gowllands, including Joseph’s birth, but there is none.




This article and its annex add considerably to our knowledge of the 18th century history of our family. Some aspects are sketchy and certainly more research is required to complete it but at least the main framework is in place.


The results of current research, both John’s Loose Ends and what I am planning for Canterbury Cathedral Archives, should move things in the right direction. However, the essential search for Joseph’s birth and background will, I have no doubt, prove very difficult unless something is found accidentally. Apart from Hougham and Alkham, I have had the records of Ickham, where Susanna was born, and Wickhambreux, a small village very close to Ickham, checked. The examination was for the period 1700-1715 but no trace was found.


Finally, whilst most of this article is factual, it also contains some of my own ideas and these are, of course, open to question. If anybody has questions or comments, please feel free to contact me by email.





Neil Gowlland, May 2006


To return to the Gowlland Family website click here



























Joseph’s birth has not yet been found. The year 1710 has been suggested in the past. (However, this was of a Joseph Gowland who was born in Buckland near Faversham, Kent. Rosemary has proved conclusively that he was not our Joseph (he appeared on an 1854 list of Knights of the Shire - click here).   At present, based on an apprenticeship record which we believe applies to him (click here for details), a birth year of about 1714 looks the most likely.


I am as certain as I can be that Susanna was born in Ickham, a small village near Canterbury, Kent, on 28 October 1709 and that her parents were Stephen Maple and Sylvester (her maiden name has not been found). Susanna was one of twin girls, her sister being Elizabeth.




Joseph married Susanna at St Andrew’s, Buckland by Dover, in February 1735 MC (click here).


The marriage record gives his name as GOWLAND and Susanna’s as MEPLE.


No signatures or family witnesses.




Children of Joseph and Susanna GOWLAND baptised at St Andrew’s, Buckland by Dover (click on the name to follow the link)





Died young: see 1749 Thomas

Click here




Click here

17/1/1740 MC



Click here




Click here


Rejoyce (*)


Click here




Click here

1/2/1747 MC



Click here




Click here




(*) Her name is spelled Joyce in the baptismal record. See the later note concerning the spelling “Rejoyce”.




The following burials were recorded at St Lawrence’s, Hougham, a village near Dover:


          3/3/1782                Susanna GOWLAND                                Click here

          9/11/1788               Joseph GOWLAND                                  Click here






The burial of Ann GOWLLAND on 6/4/1777 appears in the parish records of Alkham, a village near Dover.


This burial would put Ann’s age at the time of her death at 41. I cannot be certain that this burial was indeed that of Ann, born 1736, but I have found no other Ann that would fit.






George married Ann NORRIS at St Andrew’s, Buckland by Dover, on 9/10/1762 after banns. Both were of the parish of St Andrew.


He signed his name George GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives his name as George GOWLAND.


Joseph GOWLLAND signed as a witness.


Ann’s birth has not been researched.




Children of George and Ann GOULDER (see note below) baptised at St Andrew’s, Buckland by Dover:


          2/10/1763               Stephen                  Traced                             (Certificate here)

          4/11/1765               Elizabeth                  Traced                            (Here)

          17/1/1768               Joseph                     No trace yet found           (Here)


Children of George and Anne GOWLAND baptised at St James the Apostle, Dover:


          1/7/1770                Elizabeth                  Traced                                  (Here)

          10/10/1772             Rejoice                     No trace yet found               (Here)

          20/11/1773             Anne                       Died young: see 1779 Anne  (Here)

          27/4/1776               Susanna                  No trace yet found                (Here)

          14/2/1778               Anne                       Traced                                   (Here)

          2/4/1781                George                             No trace yet found        (Here)




These three births were identified by Dorothy Holden because the parents of all of them were George and Ann. Both Stephen and Elizabeth have proved to be a Gowllands (see below). Joseph is included here with caution, though it would seem likely that one of the children of George would be named after his grandfather.








Stephen married Elizabeth MORLEY at St Mary’s, Dover, on 30/10/1787 after banns (click here for the certificate). Both were of the parish of St Mary.


He signed his name Stephen GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives his name as Stephen GOWLLAND.


Elizabeth GOWLLAND (presumably his sister) was an illiterate witness and signed her name with her mark.


Elizabeth’s birth has not been researched.




Stephen was murdered by smugglers in 1790, though the precise date has not been ascertained. He seems to have died without issue. His widow, Elizabeth, married William VAUGHAN at St James’, Dover on 2/5/1790 - click here for the certificate.








An entry dated 10/6/1767 in the parish records of Alkham, a village near Dover, reads: “Elizabeth daughter of Geo and Anne Gowlland from Buckland was buried.” -  click here.







Elizabeth married George Wallace CARPENTER at St James’, Dover, on 7/10/1789 after banns (click here for the certificate). Both were of the parish of St James’, Dover.


She was illiterate and signed her name with her mark. The marriage record gives her name as Elizabeth GOWLLAND.


No family witness.


George’s birth has not been researched.





Anne married Henry WALLER at St James’, Dover, on 16/8/1800 after banns (click here for the certificate). Both were of the parish of St James’, Dover.


She was illiterate and signed her name with her mark. The marriage record gives her name as ANNE GOWLAND.


No family witness.


Henry’s birth has not been researched.







Susannah married Thomas FAULSER at St Mary’s, Dover, on 7/9/1763 after banns. Both were of the parish of St Mary.


She signed her name Susanah (sic) GOLLAND or GALLAND: judging by her signature, she was probably semi-literate. The marriage record gives her name as Susan GOWLLAND (it looks as though the second L was added after the entry had first been made).


A GOWLLAND signed as a witness but without using a first name.


An entry in the IGI indicates that Thomas was baptised at St Mary’s, Dover, on 27/12/1741.






Rejoyce married John ROWE, a widower, at St Mary’s, Walmer on 28/12/1778 after banns - click here. Rejoyce was of the parish of Buckland and John of the parish of Walmer.


She signed her name Rejoyce GOWLLAND. Though the “GOW” is a little confused her signature is still reasonably literate and the “y” is very obvious. The marriage record gives her name as Rejoice GOWLLAND.


According to a transcript of Buckland births (prepared by Dorothy Holden and therefore reliable), a daughter, Ann, was born on 24/1/1790 in Buckland. The transcript gives the mother’s name as Rejoyce ROWE. In an age when accuracy of spelling was not the norm, it would nevertheless seem that she either considered or wanted her name to be spelled with a “y”.


John’s birth has not been researched.






Joseph married Ann GARDINER at St Martin’s, Great Mongeham, a village near Dover, on 15/10/1770 by licence. Joseph was of the parish of St Mary, Dover, and Ann of the parish of St Martin.


Joseph signed his name Joseph GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives his name as Joseph GOWLLAND.


No family witness.


Ann’s birth has not been researched.




Children of Joseph and Ann GOWLLAND baptised at St Mary’s, Dover:


          17/4/1775               Sarah                      Traced                Click here

          10/8/1777               Benjamin Gardiner          Traced        Click here

          20/8/1780               Sarah                      Traced                 Click here


It seems surprising that there was a gap of nearly five years between the marriage and Sarah’s birth. The marriage of Ann GOWLLAND in 1793 (see below) may provide an explanation, even though her birth record has not been found (there could be an error with the name in the birth register for St Mary’s, Dover), since the dates fit and I can find no other suitable parents for Ann. I also feel it likely that Joseph and Ann’s first daughter could have been given her mother’s name. Even if these assumptions are wrong, the details of the marriage are correct and I am including the marriage here for want of a better place. [In April 2009 in CCA we found a baptism of Anne, daughter of Joseph and Anne Gowlland, on 20th October 1770, at St Leonard's, Deal.  There appear to  be no more Deal baptisms prior to 1775 for the family].




The following burials were recorded at St Lawrence’s, Hougham, a village near Dover:


          20/11/1796   Joseph GOWLAND  -  click here

          13/4/1823     Ann GOWLAND “of St Mary's Dover, aged 76 years”  -  click here








[Added by Neil Gowlland May 2008]    In the IGI for 4/11/1770 is a baptism of "Ann Gowland", "daughter of Joseph and Ann Gowland", in "the parish church of Deal".  Joseph and Ann had married on 15/10/1770, by licence.  Thus this had been a very necessary marriage and, for all we know, Ann could have been born some time beforehand.




Ann married Nicholas GODDEN at St Mary’s, Dover, on 28/7/1793 (click here) after banns. Both were of the parish of St Mary.


She signed her name Ann GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives her name as Ann GOWLLAND.


No family witness.


Nicholas’ birth has not been researched.






The following burials of the children of “Joseph and Anne” were recorded at St Lawrence’s, Hougham, a village near Dover:



          25/4/1775         Sarah GOWLAND                (Click here)

          3/10/1779          Benjamin GOWLAND            (Click here)

          31/12/1780       Sarah GOWLAND                (Click here)






Stephen married Sarah SYMONS at St Clement’s, Sandwich, Kent, on 11/6/1770  by license (here and here). Stephen was of the parish of St Andrew, Canterbury, and Sarah of the parish of St Clement.


He signed his name as Stephen GOWLLAND, and the marriage record uses the same spelling - confusingly, the marriage licence uses both spellings..


No family witness.


The birth of Sarah Symons has not been found. However, we do know from the birth registrations of the children (see below) that her father was Richard Symons and her mother Susannah (or may be Hannah).




Children of Stephen and Sarah GOWLLAND whose births were registered on the same day, 10/1/1792, at the Register of Nonconformist Births at Dr Williams’ Library in London:


          17/7/1771     Richard Symons          Traced: no need to say more here

          2/4/1773          Susannah                Traced

          26/4/1775          Stephen                  Traced: no need to say more here

          10/9/1777     Sarah                      Traced

          17/2/1780     Mary                       Traced

          23/12/1781   Josiah                      Traced


The place of birth of the children is given as the parish of St Andrew, Canterbury, with the exception of Stephen (the parish of St John the Baptist, Isle of Thanet, Kent) and Sarah (the parish of St Peter (Canterbury)).


Apparently, it was a not infrequent practice that the births of complete Nonconformist families would be registered retroactively, even after a number of years, and at the same time. The birth registers of the C of E churches of the above parishes (with the exception of St John the Baptist) have been searched for the baptisms of the children and none has been found. It would therefore seem that the children were baptised in one or more Nonconformist (probably Wesleyan) chapels but unfortunately the records of such chapels in Canterbury are not available.




The burial record of Stephen has not been found. However, a record of the administration of his estate (he died intestate and his estate was valued at under £300) dated 24/4/1802 has been found (click here), so he must have died in late 1801 or early 1802.






Susannah married George PEARCE, a widower, at St Andrew’s, Canterbury, on 23/5/1798 by license (here).


Information extracted from a transcript if the license on


Correspondence with a descendant of the brother of George Pearce indicates that George was born in Tenterden, Kent, in 1766. The transcript indicates that he was  a cordwainer (shoemaker).








Sarah married William PEARCE at St Andrew’s, Canterbury, on 9/5/1801 by license (here).


Information extracted from a transcript if the license on


The same transcript indicates that William was 20 at the time of the marriage and that he was also a cordwainer.






Mary died on 21/3/1868, at the age of 88, in Minster, Isle of Thanet, Kent, and was described as “formerly a milliner”. At the time of the 1861 census, she was living at a workhouse in Minster and her occupation was “dressmaker”.









Josiah married Peggy THORNTON at St Mary’s, Dover, on 8/2/1807 by licence (click here). Both were of the parish of St Mary.


He signed his name Josiah GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives his name as Josiah GOWLLAND.


Mary GOWLLAND  signed as a witness. 


Peggy was born on 4/12/1785 and baptised at St Mary’s, Dover, on 28/12/1785.   She died in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 8th December 1861 at the age of seventy-six - click here for the certificate.




Child of Josiah and Peggy GOULAND baptised at St Mary’s, Dover:


          18/5/1808     Eliza (born 22/6/1807)  -  click here for her baptism record


Child of Josiah and Peggy GOWLAND baptised at St Mary’s, Dover:


          9/6/1809      Selina (born 1/9/1808)  -  click here for her baptism record.


Probable child


A Richard GOWLLAND married Susannah SIMPSON at St Pancras Church, St Pancras, London, on 5/2/1849 and a Maria Gowlland was a witness. The certificate gives Richard’s father as “Josiah” and his rank or profession as “dead”. Maria may well have been Richard’s sister. Subsequent census records indicate that Richard was born about 1817 in London, though none specifies exactly where.


All information on the certificate seems to have been written by the registrar, and this includes the “signatures”.







Eliza married George NORWOOD at St Mary’s, Dover, on 4/8/1828 after banns. Both were from of the parish of St Mary.  Click here for the marriage certificate.


She signed her name Eliza Harnett GOWLLAND. The marriage entry gives her name as Eliza Harnett GOWLLAND (the second L seems to have been added and the marriage entry has been initialled in the margin with what seems to be the clergyman’s initials).


No family witness.


An entry in the IGI indicates that George was born on 23/2/1805 and baptised at St Mary’s, Dover, on 22/3/1805.




The other witness of the marriage of Josiah and Peggy was H P HARNETT. Why should Eliza have adopted Harnett as her second given name?






Thomas married Hannah BAYFORD at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London, on 24/12/1772 after banns. Both were of the parish of Christ Church.


He signed his name Thomas GOWLLAND. The marriage record gives his name as Thomas GOWLLAND.


No family witness.


There is an entry in the IGI for the baptism of a Hannah Bayford on 25/12/1755 at St Michael’s, Bishops Stortford. It seems quite possible that she was Thomas’ wife.




Child of Thomas and Hannah GOWLLAND baptised at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London:


          6/10/1776     Joseph                [Click here for the certificate]


Child of Thomas and Hannah GOWLAND baptised at Christ Church, Spitalfields (the source for this is the IGI, a copy of the original record has not yet been obtained):


          21/6/1778          Thomas





Neil Gowlland, May 2006

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