12. Richard MOWLL (MOLE) was born in 1673.1 In 1710 he was a Cinque Port Pilot.1,5 Interestingly, Sarah-Lou Morley indicates that there is a Thomas Mowle in the 1871 census (born abt. 1809), resident in Deal, Kent who was also a Cinque Port Pilot. A link between Thomas and the Mowlls/Mowles in this tree has not been established, but it would come as no surprised if there was one.
He died in 1732 at the age of 59.1
THE MARITIME MOWLLS / MOWLES
Researched and documented by Dr. Richard Mowll, assisted by Roger Mowll (June 2001)
"He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified."
- Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
If you care to visit the Historic Naval Dockyard at Victory Gate, Portsmouth, in the south of England, you will see three of the four definitive types of battleship in the history of naval warfare. They are the remains of the Tudor warship Mary Rose (c.1510), Nelson's Trafalgar flagship HMS Victory (1760) and the Royal Navy's first true ironclad battleship HMS Warrior (1860). To see the fourth of these types, which originated in Portsmouth with HMS Dreadnought (1906), you must go to the United States where you will find examples of 20th Century battleships such as the USS Iowa, all others from Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the USSR having been scrapped. For the devotee, Portsmouth is the Mecca of naval history and in the reception area of the Historic Dockyard there is a large fully-working model of the Warrior, built by the Revd. William Mowll. It took William 16 years to complete the model, finishing in 1997. During the necessary researches to build this replica, it was discovered that a relation common to both Dr. Richard Mowll and the Revd. William served on board this famously preserved all-iron battleship as Assistant Surgeon in 1869. She would then have been the world's supreme warship in terms of firepower, armour and speed, possibly the reason why she never was engaged in actual combat. This chance discovery of a common relative by Richard Mowll set in train a number of further enquiries about the Mowll family maritime history. What follows is a record of a maritime heritage which goes well beyond the shores of Great Britain, a record which future Mowlls and Mowles may want to look back on, and that is why we are sending this account to any members of our family who might wish to know more and perhaps contribute further information. That family has spread across the globe and it will always be of interest to know how they got there and what may have been their links with the sea.
Travel east from Portsmouth some 100 miles along the English Channel coast and you will come to Dover, one of the five historic Cinque Ports of South-east England. This is where the family had its recorded beginnings and, since so many of the male family members were ship's pilots, we must start our story with an understanding both of The Fellowship of Cinque Port Pilots and of the Family Tree** so that it will be clear where everybody fits in. The Fellowship of Cinque Port Pilots originated in the late 15th Century and regulated all affairs to do with pilotage on the south-east corner of England. They appointed wardens at the ports of Dover and Deal, and a senior pilot to be Master of the Fellowship. Mariners who wished to become pilots (minimum age 25 years) had to be examined by two officials of the "Court of Lodemenage", normally the Wardens of Dover and Deal, whose signatures appear on the competency certificates. The approved pilots' names were entered in the "Lower Book", and there were restrictions on the type and size of ships that Lower Book pilots could handle. After seven years' service, a pilot could be re-examined and his name transferred to the "Upper Book". We have had access to the archives of the Fellowship of Cinque Port Pilots going back to the 16th Century, which are kept at Maidstone in the County of Kent and contain the minute book of the Court of Lodemenage and the certificate books of examinations. These records show that, between 1700 and 1840, no less than ten members of the family became Cinque Port pilots. The first of these, and the earliest member of the family from whom we can be certain of descent, was William Mowll, who appeared in Dover somewhere about 1660, shortly before the great fire of London when the plague was rife throughout England. We know that William received the Freedom of Dover by decree, and that this freedom was passed on to his descendants provided that they were born within the limits of Dover. He was also a Freeman of Caen in Normandy, Northern France, and we may suppose that he needed these freedoms to give him the rights to use these ports for shipping which he may well have owned or part-owned himself.
Quite by chance, baptismal records for a family of Mowlls have been discovered in St. Mary's Church in Sandwich in Kent. These date from 1547, more than 100 years before William Mowll of Dover appeared on the scene, and they record the baptism of a different William Mowll, whose father's name was Thomas, with brothers Thomas and John and with sisters called Alice and Jane, all names which appear later in our family tree. Although we cannot prove our descent from this family, it is highly probable that, with a name like Mowll in common, we are related. St Mary's records commenced in 1538, and surrounding parishes' records did not start for at least another 20 years, so the chances of picking up a marriage entry for one or more of these children would be small unless they moved some way from home. As to whence these English Mowlls came, family tradition had it that a likely origin would have been Huguenot migration from Northern France at a time of religious persecution in the 15th or early 16th Century. The name Mowll may have been a corruption of some similar French or Flemish name, and the Huguenot connection might have borne upon our seafaring characteristics. However, information has recently come to light suggesting that our more likely origins are from weavers who might have emigrated to Kent from the Low Countries across the southern North Sea. All this is no more than guesswork, and likely to remain so in the absence of hard evidence.
What we do know for certain is that the recorded Mowll and Mowle descendants over the last 300 years, and there have been many more than 400 of them, are all descended from the William Mowll of Dover who died in 1701. Only the last of William's eight recorded offspring, Richard 1(1673-1732), is listed as having children, and of the four, only one was a boy, Jeremiah also known as James, born in 1714. These were times when many died in infancy, and it is a sobering thought that upon this slender thread through three generations depended the survival of the Mowll name. Two of the three sons of Jeremiah 1(1713-1770) continued the family line, and it was the two sons of Richard 2(1736-1816) who brought about the split between Mowll and Mowle. The Cinque Port records describe the examinations of Richard 1 and Jeremiah Mowll to become pilots, both for the Lower and the Upper Books, but nothing more is known about their lives. However, Richard 2 became a senior pilot and we have information about him from the minute book of the Court of Lodemenage. In 1795 he was suspended for refusing to take out a man-of-war. Why he refused we do not know for certain, but it may have been due to a dispute with the Admiralty over rates of pay. Whatever the case,he was reinstated on condition that he took charge of a ship of at least the size of a frigate. Perhaps this incident showed his character in a good light because he went on to become the Master of the Fellowship, having served in all its official capacities at one time or another. He asked to be allowed to retire in 1812, at the age of 78, and permission was granted on a pension of £60 pa.! Although we have no details of the examinations for pilots, it can be assumed that the syllabus included mathematics as an essential tool for celestial navigation. Very few people acquired that level of education two hundred and more years ago, so it would seem likely that our Mowll forebears had both the ability and the application to reach the necessary standards. So far as we know, only one of William's descendants has achieved distinction in the field of mathematics and he is of course Andrew, now Sir Andrew Wiles, Professor of mathematics at Princeton University, NJ, the son of Paddy (nee) Mowll and the man who developed the accepted solution to Fermat's last theorem.
The two sons of Richard 2 were Jeremiah 2(1761-1827) and Richard 3(1763-1811). The elder, Jeremiah 2, was the one who changed his name to Mowle. Whether this change was by intent or accident we cannot be sure, but the story in the family is that the two brothers had some difference of opinion and the name change followed. [Update by Coll Macdonald October 2018– Having now reviewed many actual birth,marriage, death, burial and census records the names Mowll, Mowle and even Mowell or Mole frequently appear to be interchangeable. E.g. A person born Mowll maybe recorded as Mowle on Marriage or death and visa versa. In almost all cases first names are correct but family names can change. I suspect that the changes are likely to be down to semi-literate clergy who know the spelling of common first names but “take a guess” at the spelling of family names!].
Whatever the truth, it was Jeremiah who moved to Deal, a short distance away from Dover, where he became a Cinque Port pilot based on Deal. Richard 3 remained at Dover and interestingly it was he, the younger son, who inherited the right from his father to become a Freeman. We know from the Freeman's Roll that Richard 3 was a mariner but we have no record of him ever becoming a pilot. There is a record in the Deal courts of Jeremiah being indicted and fined for fighting with one James Russell in 1795, so perhaps he had a wayward streak that led him to stray from the family roots. He had nine sons but only the eldest, another Richard, became a Cinque Port pilot. William emigrated to Canada, possibly the first of the Mowles to cross the Atlantic. John born in 1798 became a sea-captain and the fourth, Stephen Sayer Mowle, a resident of Cork in Ireland, was for a time the regular captain of the paddle-steamer Sirius.
The Sirius made history when she arrived in New York on the 22nd of April,1838 and became the first vessel to make the Atlantic crossing under continuous steam power albeit with her sails set throughout the voyage. This was the beginning of the story of the Blue Riband Trans-Atlantic Trophy which started in earnest in 1838 between two rival shipping lines. The Great Western Shipping Company in Bristol saw themselves as a "railway across the Atlantic", and the British and American Steamship Company had their eyes on the lucrative trans-Atlantic mails contract. At the very last minute, the B&ASC found themselves without a vessel to compete with the planned launch of the "Great Western", so they entered a little Scottish schooner-rigged paddle-ship called "Sirius 1837", whose Captain was the afore-mentioned Stephen Mowle. For the race, the Sirius was commanded by a Lt. Richard Roberts RN who, after winning the Blue Riband, handed the Sirius back to Capt. Stephen Mowle to resume coastal duties. The Atlantic crossing was completed in 18 days at an average speed of 13.5 knots, and her coal fuel supply just sufficed to complete the voyage. The Revd. William Mowll has built a model of the Sirius which was sold to the Sirius Brokerage Inc. in New York and is probably on display in their offices.
Jeremiah 2 and Richard 3 each had sons whom they christened Richard, without any second names, which might induce the reader to wonder what was so special about the name Richard in the families of the Mowlls and Mowles. To add to the potential for confusion, Jeremiah's Richard 4(1783-1870), married a Sarah,nee Ralphs, and Richard's Richard 5, born eight years later, married another Sarah (Millen) when he was but 19 years old. And they all lived together, well not quite together but within 20 miles or so of one another, and finally to cap it all both these Richards were Cinque Port pilots. Richard 4 was also an officer of the Imperial Revenue Service at Deal. Thank goodness there was a third line of descent through Isaac Mowll, but he was a Cinque Port pilot too and he also continued to live in Dover. When you consider that these pilots would normally compete fiercely for whatever shipping came up the English Channel bound for London and Tilbury on the River Thames estuary, you might imagine that the scope for inter-family strife would have made good 19th Century television soap opera. As far as we can tell, none of Isaac's descendents were pilots but, as we shall see later, some of them were ship-owners.
The descendant lines of Richard 5(1791-1869) of Dover, and of Jeremiah 2 who lived in Deal, gave rise to considerable emigration from an England whose empire straddled the globe and whose Navy ruled the seas. They must have been adventurous people. Dare one speculate that they were getting a bit fed up with all these Mowlls and Mowles living cheek by jowl in the South-east corner of a rather small island. Almost certainly not, since this was the era of European emigration when men and women dreamed of getting away from the smoky factories and the sweated labour of the world's first industrial society. Not that Dover was particularly industrial, but anyone with a visionary streak would have easily been caught up in the spirit of the age. The reality was often different, for life could be exceedingly hard in the outposts of empire. Some returned, disillusioned, but those that stuck it out put succeeding generations in an ever stronger position to make the best of their lives. Australia and North America were the favoured destinations for the family, and there are Mowles in Australia today who are descended from Jeremiah 2. Some have had eminent careers, notably Stewart Marjoribanks Mowle who was Usher Black Rod of the NSW Legislative Assembly. His father-in-law, Thomas Braidwood Wilson MD, FRGS, Surgeon RN, who named the Wilson Inlet on the Southern coast of Western Australia, had served as a Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships to Australia, completing a total of eight voyages and becoming a substantial landowner (more than 13000 acres) in NSW. Another was Percival Conrad Mowle (1872-1951)who was a member of the Marine Board of New South Wales and an authority on the Customs Service, and also the editor of "A Genealogical History of Pioneer Families of Australia" (1939).
Richard 3's eldest son, William Johnson Mowll, was a baker to start with, but then a mariner and later he became a pilot. He seemed to be a pilot on rather a part-time basis. His descendents numbered one family that went to Australia (William John), a shipwright by trade who took his family to Sydney on the "John Wesley", and one that went to the United States (George William), about whose descendents we shall say more. A third son John remained in England and none of his descendents appear to have had maritime careers. John himself was a toy-maker. One of his grandsons, Walter John Mowll was a Congregational Church minister, later employed by the then-named British and Foreign Bible Society, in the service of which he travelled extensively, by ship of course since at that time aircraft were in their infancy (early 1900s). He was based first in South Africa, then in India and finally in the Americas where he made his home in Trinidad. His first wife, Marion Collingwood Hay, took ship on her own to Cape Town where they were married in 1907. She was a descendent of Cuthbert Collingwood whose man-of-war "Royal Sovereign" was the first vessel to engage the combined French and Spanish fleets at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Collingwood took command of the English fleet after the death of Lord Nelson.
Walter John's only grandson, Roger Mowll, who was born in Trinidad in 1936, was at one time involved with drilling and production systems for oil and gas in the North Sea between the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Classed as ships under maritime law, accommodation was generally unsuited for women and it was on the Buchan Field in 1984 during which time Roger was the shore-based management representative that the first female was assigned to offshore duty. Women have of course been seafarers since time immemorial, but we have no record of any Mowll or Mowle women becoming mariners. Very probably there would have been many who undertook lengthy sea voyages in the course of emigration or other journeys before commercial aviation became the common mode of travel. In 1992, Roger sailed the Atlantic by yacht in a six-week crossing from Poole in England to Barbados, retracing in part the route of Columbus' third voyage which led to the "discovery" of Trinidad 500 years earlier. We can guess that the first of the family to cross the Atlantic might have been William, son of Jeremiah 2 or perhaps Charles Wills, second son of Richard 5. And who would have been the first to sail to Australia? Almost certainly Edward Boxer Mowle, who arrived aboard The Princess Royal in 1825 aged about 20, followed by Stewart Marjoribanks who evidently went in 1836 on the "William Lockerby"at the tender age of 14 and was later the author of "The Last of the Luggers". One of Stewart's great grandsons with whom we are in contact is Ronald MacKenzie-Mowle, who resides in Miranda, NSW. Edward Boxer has been described by the author Gwendoline Wilson as "a six-foot tall young man so handsome that women could nor forbear to follow him with their eyes when he passed by". He worked first in Sydney as a shipping agent's clerk, and he must have done well because he subsequently became a director of the Bank of Australia. Roger Mowll was a keen racing yachtsman and his boat "Petal" was winner of the King George VI Britannia Cup in 1990. His son Jonathan was a member of the winning crew, and the name Mowll can be found inscribed on the walls of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes in the Isle of Wight. In the course of his work, Roger met a Texan by the name of Roger W Mowell, after whom an off-shore drilling rig had been named. Interestingly, there was a striking facial resemblance between the two Rogers, yet there appeared to be no way of tracing a family relationship.
Richard 5, born in 1791, became a pilot at the age of 25 in 1815, the year of the battle of Waterloo. Presumably because his wife Sarah was a Deal girl, he went to live there and thus became ineligible to inherit the Freedom of Dover from his father. This was a period when England was at war with France and pilots were very much in short supply. Naval Captains would come into a port with the intention of press-ganging young and not-so-young and they were not averse to grabbing anyone capable of piloting. Richard was one of these, and since the Navy's ships had no means of paying at the rates demanded by pilots, he would be given a certificate redeemable (hopefully?) on submission to the Board of the Admiralty. The actual piloting was done mainly along the southern shores of the English Channel, La Manche, and into the Netherlands. We have six of these certificates, each given to Richard by an RN ship's captain, commending him for excellent service and attention to duty and for giving his services when nobody else was available to do so.(Did he have a choice and was he ever paid?) On one occasion he got the illustrious Royal Navy frigate, HMS Antelope, off the mud where she had been stuck in the River Scheldt and at risk from enemy action, and piloted her to safety.
Richard 5's eldest son, yet another Richard 6, went into the Royal Navy and became a sailing master. He had a distinguished career which ended with the command of the training ship, HMS Conway. He was given the rank of Commander, although the Navy now seems to have no record of such. Training ships had a tradition of harsh discipline which hardly fits with the family character, so hopefully he was an exception to the rule. His brother, Charles Wills Mowll, was born in Dover and hence able to become a Freeman. He served as a paymaster in the Navy, and on one occasion in about 1830 was transferred aboard a slave-ship which had been captured in mid-Atlantic. While on board, he contracted yellow fever and was put ashore at Rio de Janiero, whence he wrote to his father in England a letter which we have retained. Charles survived the yellow fever, returned to Portsmouth where he married Diana Spicer in 1840 at the Portsea Parish Church, and went in 1849 with wife and three children to live in Mass. USA (after retirement from the Navy). Only a few years previously, the American and English Fleets had been at war, so his evident welcome in the States provides an interesting commentary on prevailing attitudes of the time. One of his descendants, Chuck Mowll from Chicago, is in contact with us.
Richard 6(1813-1886) had only one son, Richard Alfred Mowll, who became a doctor and joined the Navy somewhere about 1865. He also married a Sarah (Rothwell). This is the Richard who served on HMS Warrior. He was the grandfather of the Dr Richard Mowll who is the author of this family record. Although none of his descendents were mariners by trade (or vocation?), there has been a strong family interest in recreational sailing which continues to this day in his great-grandson Nick and his sons, Stephen and Andrew. Another son of Richard 5 was John George who served in the Royal Navy in the mid-1800s. One of his grandsons, Louvain, today resides in Liverpool in England, the other grandson Frank having emigrated to Canada after the second World War. Both were in the Merchant Marine for a combined total of more than 50 years, including RN service during the Second World War. In all that time they only twice served on the same vessels, the SS Bosnia in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Ashantian on the South African run. Louvain spent much of his time up and down the east coast of the American continent, including trips up the Amazon River. One voyage in 1934 lasted 10 months, and the news of his mother's death did not reach him until the end of the voyage. What a contrast with the communications we have come to expect in today's journeys. After WW2 Louvain was on the cruise ship "Queen of Bermuda". Both his sons, Edwin and Brian, served in the Royal Marines.
Of William Johnson Mowll's three sons, the first, William Tonbridge, became a tailor and his son William John left for Australia in about 1855. We think he became a pilot on the Australian east-coast rivers. Richard 7(1813-1877) became a Cinque Port pilot, based at Dover. He was eventually lost at sea but we have no record of the circumstances. His son George William emigrated to the USA. One of his sons Waller Usher, who had worked for Cunard, was a keen model-boat builder and one of his great-grandsons Lawry served in the US Navy after WW2. A grandson, Jack Usher, who lives today in Cleveland USA, got the urge to run away to sea at the age of 20 in 1936. He joined the crew of a British freighter, the Sardinian Prince, in Baltimore, signing on as a deckhand, and sailed on Atlantic crossings until he was paid off as the Second World War approached. Lucky for him, but not for the rest of the crew. The Sardinian Prince was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean. Another of the American Mowlls, Bob, who lives in Florida, started work with the Matson Steamship Co. in 1961 in San Francisco. One of his duties involved going out in pilot boats along with the Hawaiian hula girls to meet incoming VIPs. What a versatile family we have proved to be! One of Jeremiah 2's grandsons, Thomas Ralphs Mowle, became a Cinque Port pilot out of Deal, at which time (1840's) there would have been three pilot members of the family in Dover and Deal. Thomas' son Richard(8) born in 1841, served in the Royal Navy and was subsequently a Bengal river pilot on the Hougli near Calcutta.
Amongst the descendants of Isaac Mowll, we find Charles Havelock who was a ship-owner and whose son Harold went into the Royal Navy and was lost in the First World War. His grandson Garforth served in the Second World War, retired as a Captain RN and lives now in Florida. A study of the Lloyd's Registry records by Christopher Mowll has revealed that Charles' grandfather, William Mowll (1792-1839), owned a small vessel, the Lady Castlereagh, from about 1820 to 1828. She was a 54 ton sloop of 10 ft draft, built in 1814 with a single deck and no cross-beams, rated A1 by Lloyd's and registered in Dover. Charles' father, William Rutley Mowll appears to have started business as a ship-owner in 1870 with a single vessel, the "Lucy", built at Sandwich and launched in 1855. Her length is listed as 86 ft. and tonnage 163, this being a measure of her carrying capacity. By 1876 Mowll and Co. owned two more vessels, the "Star"(77 ft. and 136 tons) and the "Lewes Lass"(90 ft. and 183 tons). Both these ships were built in Sunderland and were launched respectively in 1835 and 1850. All three ships had been disposed of by 1884 when the Company evidently chose to quit the coastal shipping business. There is an uncorroberated story that William Rutley did not insure his ships, preferring instead to give money equivalent to the insurance premiums to the Church. Is it possible that one of these ships was lost at sea?
Two of his great-great grand-daughters, both alive today, have maritime connections through marriage. Janet Wilson (nee Mowll) married a soldier who, having served as a brigade commander in the Falklands war, retired to sail the Atlantic in a 27ft. catamaran and write a book about it. Caroline Bell (Janet's sister) married a Royal Marine. Their mother was a descendant of Sir Francis Austen, who served under Nelson as a Captain and went on to become an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy. One's interest is further kindled by the fact that he was a brother of a much-admired novelist, none other than Jane Austen herself. Although no mariner, she was no doubt well-informed about matters maritime. Coincidently, she did express her opinion of that most commonly used forename in the Mowll family, viz. "Her father was a clergyman, ......and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard." (Northanger Abbey), and elsewhere in letters as a family joke, cf. "Mr Richard Harvey's match is put off till he has got a Better Christian name, of which he has great Hopes".
In 1887 Charles acquired a now-famous ship, the "City of Adelaide", so named because like many other clippers of those times she was employed on the England-Australia run, out by the Cape of Good Hope and the Roaring Forties and back round Cape Horn. Built by William Pile and Co. for Devitt and Moore and launched in 1864, she was 176 ft. in length with a gross tonnage of 791 tons, much larger than any of the vessels previously owned by Mowll and Co. When Charles sold her to T.Dixon and Sons of Belfast in 1889, her tonnage had been reduced to 784. Mowll and Co. used her as a collier and her sale may well have resulted from the development of the Kentish coalfields which replaced the shipment of coal from Newcastle. By then she was 25 years old but she continued in service until at least the turn of the century, latterly under the name S.V.Carrick. Like the well-known "Cutty Sark"she is of composite construction, iron framed with wooden keel, stem, sternpost and planking. Today the hulk of the "City of Adelaide" lies rotting on the Clyde in Scotland, about to be finally broken up unless funds can be found for her preservation. She and the Cutty Sark are the only true 19th Century clipper ships remaining, both listed in the Register of Historic Ships at Greenwich. How many Australians must have ancestors who first set foot in their new Land when they stepped ashore from her gangway.
Stop Press: The latest information from the Scottish Maritime Museum's web-site reads as follows:"The S.V.Carrick (ex City of Adelaide), the world's oldest "colonial" clipper ship, is being restored to her former condition as an emmigration ship on a specially restored slipway. This will take ten years to complete and whenever possible Carrick will be open to view the work progressing." This is good news indeed. One day the "City of Adelaide" may hoist her canvas and sail again.
The family's story in Australia cannot be complete without mention of Howard, a grandson of William Rutley. Although never a professional mariner, Howard was one of the two great Mowll travellers in the service of the Church, the other being Walter John who knew of and admired Howard (they were contemporaries although they probably never met on the face of this globe). Howard's distinguished career led him via the Anglican Bishopric of Western China to become Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of all Australia. On the south wall of St. Andrews Cathedral in Sydney there is a memorial plaque recording the love and affection felt for him and his wife Dorothy after their deaths in 1958. The Mowll / Mowle connection with Australia is very strong; a relatively high proportion of the family are to be found living there, as is also the case in North America, whereas only one or two appear to live in continental Europe and at least one family in New Zealand. Throughout the generations, a spirit of adventure and a willingness to travel, perhaps coupled with a tolerance towards other peoples and lack of fear for the unfamiliar, seem to have been family characteristics.
Richard MOWLL (MOLE) and Elizabeth HILL were married in 1699.1 Elizabeth HILL was born about 1675.5
Richard MOWLL (MOLE) and Elizabeth HILL had the following children:
|Ann MOWLL (MOLE) was born in 1703.6 She was baptized on 15 August 1703 at Church of St. Mary The Virgin in Dover, Kent, England, United Kingdom.6 Note that the her Baptism shows the family name as Mole|
|Richard MOWLL was born in 1709.1|
|Eliza or Elizabeth MOWLL was born in 1711.1|
|Jeremiah or James MOWLL.|