The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Bower Family

Progress Report 

Progress To Date

Great Grandparent: George Christopher Bower
- His Parents: Benjamin Bates Bower & Mary Pitts
- His Grandparents: Christopher Bower & Elizabeth Pitts

Mini Family Tree (Direct Ancestors)

The family tree to date may be summarised:

Bower Family

George Bower b c 1748
married c 1769

William Bower b c 1770
married c 1790
Elizabeth c 1770

Christopher Bower bp 6.5.1794 d 1851 (age 56)
married 3.11.1817
Elizabeth Pitts b c 1798/9 d 1878 (age 80)

Benjamin Bates Bower b c 1819/20
died 2.3.1876 (age 56)
married 24.11.1842
Mary Pitts bp 12.1.1817 d 1875 (age 59)

Children: George Christopher Bower b 1841/2 d 15.3.1877
Elizabeth Bower b 1845
Louise Bower b 1856/7

George Christopher Bower b c 1841/2 d 15.3.1877
married 13.08.1864
Martha Hannah Jones b c 1845

William Bower b ?23.10.1867 d 2.12.1948
married 6.06.1897
Charlotte Hayes b 15.08.1876

Frederick Bower b 12.09.1910
d 10.09.2006
married 11.07.1936
Doris Ivy Brecht b 15.03.1912
d 29.6.2003

Colin Malcolm Bower b 12.01.1944
married 15.10.1966
Christine Elizabeth Collier b 26.03.1946

Link to Family Tree


George Christopher Bower & Descendants

Summary of Research To Date

We made good progress from noting down information from the family then finding out more about our ancestors, particularly via Census records and birth, marriage and death certificates. I have been unable to trace a number of birth certificates including:

One of the highlights was drinking a pint of beer at the George Inn in Walham Green where George's grandfather Christopher Bower was the publican in 1851!

One of the biggest surprises was tracing George's father Benjamin Bates Bower after many years of research (he died in Whitechapel in 1876).

One enjoyable piece of research was tracing the naval career of my grandfather William Bower.

Birth Marriage & Death Certificates Held
- Births: 10+4 Unwanted
- Marriages: 7+8 Unwanted
- Deaths: 5+1 Unwanted

Certificates Held-Bower Family

Census Records Obtained
- 1841 Christopher & Elizabeth (?Bates) Bower & family
- 1851 Christopher & Elizabeth (?Bates) Bower & family
- Benjamin & Mary (Pitts) Bower & family
- Charles & Elizabeth (Bower) Pollard & family
Alfred & Amelia (Light) & Family
- 1861 Benjamin & Mary (Pitts) Bower & family
- Charles & Elizabeth (Bower) Pollard & family and
- Elizabeth (Bates?) Bower
- Alfred & Amelia Bower & family
- 1871 Benjamin & Mary (Pitts) Bower
- Charles & Elizabeth (Bower) Pollard & family and
- Elizabeth (Bates?) Bower and grand-daughter Mary Louise Bower
- Alfred & Amelia Bower & family
- George Christopher Bower & family
- 1881 Charles & Elizabeth (Bower) Pollard & family and
- Mary L Bower, Niece
- Martha Hennenn (formerly Bower) & family
- William Bower (on training ship Exmouth)
- Alfred & Amelia Bower & family
- 1891 Alice (Bower) Blake & family
- Alfred & Charles Bower
- 1901 William Bower & family
- Alice (Bower) Blake & family

Census Records Held

Other Research Undertaken
- IGI - Sheets held-Bower (London)
- Parish Records-nil
- Wills
- Businesses: Sarah Bower then daughter Mary Bower, Chandlers shop in Stepney
- Correspondence-West Middlesex FHS (who put entries in thier journal)
- Visits: Limehouse (where the Edinburgh Castle & Dixon Street were destroyed in World War II); George Inn, Walham Green; Whitechapel
- Photographs
- Naval career of William Bower
- Misc Info/Documents - The Bowers of Old Fulham

Progress 2004

I traced the death of Benjamin Bates Bower in Whitechapel, though it did not solve the mystery as to why his son, my great grandfather George Christopher Bower, was living with his grandfather in 1851 and his uncle Alfred in 1861. In a marriage certificate in 1864 Benjamin's occupation was given as photographer. Intriguingly his brother Alfred had a photographic studio in Whitechapel Road during 1861-1882.

Progress 2005


Progress 2006

At long last I found Benjamin Bower in a Census after he left his father's home.

In 1861 the family were living at 1 Felix Street, Bethnal Green and there were two daughters I did not know about:
Elizabeth Bower born 1844/5
Louise Bower born 1856/7

Progress 2007

I visited Whitechapel to see where Benjamin Bower and his brother Alfred lived.

I obtained the birth certificate of Benjamin's daughter Elizabeth which showed that the family were living in Parsons Green, Fulham in 1845.

Progress 2008

I obtained some more Census entries in 1871, 1891 and 1901.

Progress 2009

I have been contacted by a distant relative in Australia (Pitts Family), who provided an extraordinary amount of new information about the Bower and Pitts families:

- the baptism of Christopher Bower at All Saints Church, Fulham 12.11.1794
(Parents William & Elizabeth (Pitts)Bower, Grandparents John Pitts & Elizabeth Bates)
- an unbelievable entry in a book on Fulham about William's father George Bower who ran a small holding named Rowberry Mead before William took over and then Elizabeth, as a widow.
- the history of the Bowers after Christopher Bower died in 1851 including the whereabouts of Elizabeth (Pitts) Bower in 1861, 1871 and 1878, her son Benjamin in 1851 and her daughter Elizabeth in 1849-1881.

She also told me that Elizabeth (Pitts) Bower appears to have been a witness at the marriage of George Henry Pitts in Chelsea in 1827 and sent me a copy of the Parish Record which has Elizabeth's signature.

She also gave me further details about my 3 x Great Grandfather James Benjamin Pitts including a copy of his death certificate.

So we have two links to the Pitts family via Elizabeth Pitts who married Christopher Bower and Mary Pitts (parents James Benjamin & Louise Pitts) who married Elizabeth's son Benjamin Bates Bower.


Progress 2010

My Life

I added the information given to our daughter Helen and our son Steve by our parents when they researched the family tree in their first year at St George's School, Harpenden:

The Bowers

I decided to maintain a summary of what I have found out about my family name:

Benjamin Bates Bower

I was able to solve the mystery of "whatever happened to Benjamin Bower" by obtaining his death certificate in 1876 (age 56) which showed that he reverted to being a tailor living in Raven Row, Whitechapel, near his brother Alfred who had a photographers' studio in Whitechapel Road.

William Bower

I made two visits to the London Metropolitan Archives and looked up the records of the training (correction) ship "Exmouth", which used to be moored at Grays in Essex, to which my grandfather was admitted in 1878 (age 10) and left in 1881 to join the Canadian owned "Bell" bound for New York as cabin boy.

This explains why he told my father that he had sailed on "blue-noses", i.e. he went to sea between leaving the "Exmouth" to go to sea before he joined the Navy in 1883.

Bower/Pitts Family Tree

My contact in Australia, came up with another important document. This time a copy of the marriage register at St George, Hanover Square which included the marrige of Christopher Bower to Elizabeth Pitts on 3 November 1817. Unfortunately the writing of the names of the witnesses is unclear and could be N G or W Bower and M Pitts.

My distant relative in Australia later came up trumps again with:

the marriage of James Pitts and Louiza Pinnion in Fulham in 1812 (appears to be the right James)
the baptism of a son James (and his sister Elizabeth) in 1815 but his sad death in 1816 (age just 5 months) and the baptism of Louisa in 1822.
the baptism of my great great grandmother Mary Pitts in 1817
the marriage of Christopher Bower & Elizabeth Pitts at St George's, Hanover Square in 1817

I included the Pitts family in the project: The Big One!

The Big One - Family History Research Report - Pitts Family

Progress 2011

I visited London to take photo's of 3 churches where there were church services for the Bower/Pitts family, paricularly St George, Hanover Square where Christopher Bower married Elizabeth Pitts in 1817 and Benjamon Bower married Mary Pitts in 1842:

- St Giles in the Fields
- St Martins in the Field
- St George, Hanover Square

Visit to London January 2011

Progress 2012

Bower/Pitts Family

Pitts/Pinnion Family

A regular correspondent in Australia sent me the details of 2 burials in the Holborn/Drury Lane area of London:

St Giles in the Fields

Louisa Pitts of Great Wild Street
buried 31.10.1838 (age 44)

Benjamin James Pitts of Queen's Court, Holborn
buried 15.1.1839 (age 47)

(Benjamin was born James Benjamin Pitts)

I had previously visited St Giles' church:

Visit to London including St Giles ChurchFamily

I tried to find the bp of Loiusa Pitts nee Pinnion but found one potential entry only:

West Clandon, Surrey

Louisa Pinion bp 28.4.1793
(Parents William Pinion& Mary)

Pinion/Pinnion is a relatively uncommon name and if this is "our" Louisa, it would mean an unexpected link for the Bower/Pitts/Pinnion family with West Clandon that we know from my wife Chris' ancestors in the Peryer/Perrier and Smith families:

The Big One!- Peryer/Perrier Family

The Big One! - Smith Family

Progress 2013-2018


Progress 2019

1939 Register - Our Parents & Grandparents

We started the year with another look at the 1939 Register of England & Wales.

1939 Register

Until then we had not looked up all of the entries for our parents and grandparents:

Our Parents & Grandparents in the 1939 Register

My grandparents were still living in the East End of London, i.e. before their houses were destroyed in the Blitz.

Progress 2020

The parents of my 2 x Great Grandparent Mary Pitts were James Benjamin Pitts and Louisa Pinnion.

I did not know any more information about Louisa, so I did a few searches on Ancestry and found:

1. James Benjamin Pitts (1791-1839)
Louisa Pinnion (1793-1838)
at Parsons Green, Fulham

2. Louisa Pinion bp 28.4.1793
(Parents William Pinion (1759-1826) and
Mary Smithers (1764-1830)
at St Peter& St Paul Church, West Clandon
- This came as a real surprise with the Bower Tree because Chris and I have been to the Chuch when researching the Collier/Peryer Tree:

Visit to West Clandon

James Benjamin Pitts (Parents John Pitts and Elizabeth Bates) had a sister Elizabeth who married Christopher Bower

James Benjamin Pitts

Elizabeth Pitts

Progress 2021

There has always been a bit of a mystery about my grandfather's date of birth for which I have never found the registration of his birth

Having another look, I found new pieces of information on Ancestry:

1. Entries in the books of the Training Ship "Exmouth"

Training Ship "Exmouth 1876-1918
Record Book

1. Bower Wm No 769

Age: 12

Date of Entry: 22.5.1878

Date of Discharge: 25.6.1878

Discharge: to Union (Mile End)

2. Bower, William No 957

Age 13

Date of Entry: 18.6.1879

Date of Discharge 13.5.1882

Union: Mile End

Discharge: Ship "Bell"

Comments include:

25.9.1881 Rated Gold Case Boy
15.10.1881 Rated Gun-room boy
28.1.1882 Rated Chief Lamptrimmer

3. William Bower

Age 15

Date of Entry: 21.2.1883

Date of Discharge: 1.3.1883

Union: Mile End

Discharge: Royal Navy
HMS Boscawen
Blue Jacket

(William's DOB given in his Royal Navy service record is 23.10.1867. He signed on in 1885 age 18 for 10 years)

2. A record of his christening when he was 13 (about the time he joined the Exmouth)

St Peter & St Paul, Grays, Thurrock

William Bower (Age13) born abt 1866 bp 9.8.1879
(Parents George & Martha Bower)

I was hoping that he was christened as an infant!

I have summarised the information I have on William Bower in date order:

Summary of Records Held

I have also listed the places where William Bower lived including entries in the Electoral Rolls:

Places where William Bower lived

Things we wish we knew

Colin Bower
17 June 2021

Links to:

Bower Family - Main Links

Family History - Main Index

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