Gatehouse of St James’ Palace, London (via wikimedia.org)

I’ve written before about Adam Fowle, a servant at the court of Elizabeth I and the ‘Keeper of the house and garden of St James.’  This was St James’ Palace, built by Henry VIII in the 1530s as a smaller residence that would provide an escape from formal court life. According to Wikipedia:

Much smaller than the nearby Whitehall, St James’s was arranged around a number of courtyards, including the Colour Court, the Ambassador’s Court and the Friary Court. The most recognisable feature is the north gatehouse; constructed with four storeys, the gatehouse has two crenellated flanking octagonal towers at its corners and a central clock dominating the uppermost floor and gable [… ] It is decorated with the initials H.A. for Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry constructed the palace in red brick, with detail picked out in darker brick. The palace was remodelled in 1544, with ceilings painted by Hans Holbein, and was described as a ‘pleasant royal house’ […] Elizabeth I  often resided at the palace, and is said to have spent the night there while waiting for the Spanish Armada to sail up the Channel.

My interest in Adam stems from the fact that, according to the record of the Visitation of London in 1633-34 and 1635, he was ‘nephew to the prior of St Mary Saviours in Surrey’. This is a reference to Bartholomew Fowle, who was prior of St Mary Overy, Southwark, at the time of its suppression by Henry VIII in 1539: the priory church was later known as St Saviours, and is now the Anglican cathedral of Southwark. Some sources claim that Bartholomew was the brother of my 13th great grandfather, Gabriel Fowle of Southover near Lewes in Sussex.

St James’ Palace and gardens in the early seventeenth century

In this post, I want to share what I’ve managed to discover about Adam Fowle and his immediate family, and in subsequent posts I’ll discuss the lives of some of his descendants. I’m hoping that my exploration of this branch of the family may throw some much-needed light on the origins of my own Fowle ancestors.

The pedigree in the Visitation of London records states that Adam Fowle was married to a woman who was the daughter of a man named Dryland, and the ‘relict’ or widow of a man named Webb. A collection of Middlesex pedigrees, published in 1914, contains a little more information about Adam and his wife. He is said to be of Faversham in Kent, but ‘descended out of Sussex’, while we learn that her Christian name was Anne and that her father’s family, the Drylands, were also from Kent.  This is confirmation that Adam was connected in some way with my own Fowle ancestors, either those who lived in Rotherfield, Sussex, or those from Lamberhurst, on the Sussex\Kent border.

I suspect, though I can’t be sure, that Adam acquired his property in Faversham through his marriage to Anne Webb née Dryland. The Dryland or Dreylond family seems to have been resident in the Faversham area since at least the time of Edward III, when Stephen Dryland lived there. A William Dryland of Faversham made his will in 1494, and a Richard Dryland was alive in 1517.

Cooksditch House today (via geograph.org.uk)

According to the Survey of Kent, published in 1798, the Drylands’ ancestral home was in Cooksditch, ‘almost adjoining to the east side of the town of Faversham’. (The house was rebuilt in Georgian times and is now a nursing home: see photograph above.) The Drylands were said to be ‘of good account, and at times intermarried with some of the best families in this county.’ During the reign of Henry VI, John Dryland was ‘knight of the shire’, and in succeeding reigns the family often supplied the mayors of Faversham.

The Survey has this to say about Richard Dryland, who lived at Cookdsitch during Henry VII’s reign:

He was twice married, and left by his first wife Joane, daughter and heir of Thomas Quadring, of London, only one daughter Katherine, who became heir to her mother’s inheritance, which she carried with Cooksditch likewise, in marriage to Reginald Norton, esq. of Lees-court, in Sheldwich, who had by her two sons, Sir John, who was of Northwood, in Milton, and William Norton, to whom by his will he devised Cooksditch. He afterwards resided at it, and married Margaret, daughter and heir of Matthew Martyn, by whom he was ancestor of the Nortons, of Fordwich, in this county.

I’ve written elsewhere about the Nortons of Fordwich, and their connections with the recusant Hawkins, Finch and Knatchbull families. Intriguingly, there is also a connection between the Nortons and another branch of the Fowle family, from Tenterden in Kent. Another source claims that Richard Dryland had a second daughter: this might have been Anne Dryland who married Adam Fowle.

Intriguingly, a character by the name of Adam Fowle of Faversham appears in The Tragedy of  Master Arden of Faversham, published in 1592, which some have attributed to Shakespeare. This Adam Fowle is said to be ‘of the Flower de Luce, Faversham’. At first I thought this might be a courtly in-joke about a royal servant (though ‘our’ Adam had died by this time), but apparently the play is based on a true story, and there really was an Adam Fowle who was landlord of the Fleur-de-lis inn in Faversham. I suspect that there is probably no connection with my own Fowle ancestors.

The old church of St Martin in the Fields (via british-history.ac.uk)

The parish register of St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, records that on 23rd January 1559/60 a child by the name of Alphonsus Fowle was baptised there. Since we know from the Visitation of London pedigree that Adam and Anne Fowle had a son with this unusual Christian name, and that he would be seventy-four years old in 1634, this is almost certainly the same person. If so, it would mean that Adam and Anne were married by 1558/59 (the first year of the reign of Elizabeth I), which places Adam’s birth at the latest in about 1540. This would make him a member of the same generation as my 12th great grandfather Magnus Fowle, the son of Gabriel. There are no other extant records of children born to Adam and Anne Fowle, and in fact Alphonsus is the only child of theirs mentioned in the Visitation pedigrees.

It’s probably no coincidence that St Martin’s church was the location for the marriage, on 25th February 1565/6, of Robert Fowle and Maria Burton. Robert, a soldier who rose to become Provost-Marshal of Connaught in Ireland, was the son of Robert Fowle of Carshalton, Surrey. Mary or Maria Burton was the daughter of Nicholas Burton, also of Carshalton, the second husband of Eleanor Fowle, widow of William Fowle of Mitcham. As I’ve written elsewhere, William was almost certainly another relative of Bartholomew Fowle, the prior of St Mary Overy, since he makes bequests to him in his will of 1547. William Fowle had connections with the Kent Fowles, but the precise relationship between him, Robert, and the family of Adam Fowle of Faversham and London is still unclear.

On 12th July 1582 the parish register of St Martin’s records that Adam Fowle was buried  ‘in New Church yarde’, which was an ‘overflow’ cemetery in the grounds of the Royal Bethlem Hospital, created in the sixteenth century when parish cemeteries became full. I’ve been unable to find a copy of Adam Fowle’s will. A search at the National Archives only turned up two certificates of residence, from 1563 and 1571, declaring him to be liable for taxation in the royal household.