BOWYER, Robert III (by 1511-76), of Reading, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1511. m. Elizabeth, at least 1s.1

Offices Held

Guardian of the old ward, Reading 1532, 1536, member of guild 1539, alderman 1546, mayor 1547-8, 1553-4, Dec. 1558-9, 1570-1.2


All three parish churches in Reading have records of Bowyers in the 16th century. The Robert Bowyer who sat in Parliament was a tanner, as had been a John Bowyer who died on 21 Apr. 1521 and to whom, with Jane his wife, there is a memorial in St. Lawrence’s church. A William Bowyer who was churchwarden of St. Giles in 1531, ten years before Robert filled the same post, left a house in Mill Lane to his cousin and executor, Robert Bowyer, in 1536.3

Bowyer was listed as a burgess in 1538 but paid 10s. as entry fee to the guild only in 1539. Three years later he contributed towards a horse for the Scots campaign and in 1548, as mayor, headed the list of those agreeing to restrict the number of burgesses to 30. During his second term as mayor he was returned to Parliament and on 2 Aug. 1554 received Philip and Mary on their visit to Reading. John Moyer, a Protestant minister cited by Foxe, later wrote of ‘Bowyer a tanner’ as one of three men in Reading who ‘left no means unpractised to catch and persecute the members of Christ’. In 1560 he was one of the tanners licensed to buy raw hides from the Household and sell them anywhere in the realm, despite restrictive statutes, and in the same year was nominated one of the nine capital burgesses of Reading.4

In 1546 Bowyer was a tenant of lands in Reading granted to William Grey II and in 1560 he held at least four tenements there. He also had property at Burghfield, Berkshire, which in his will of 16 July 1576 he left to the corporation of Reading for the use of the poor. The residuary legatees and executors were his wife Elizabeth and his great-grandson Richard Croft, a minor and the only relative mentioned. The will was proved on 23 Nov. 1576 but Bowyer had died by 6 Aug. when a new capital burgess was elected to fill his place.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 33 Carew.
  • 2. Reading Recs. i. pp. xli, xlii, 159, 165, 173-4, 201, 233-4, 257, 306.
  • 3. Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 25; L. Harman, St. Giles, Reading, 93; PCC 36 Hogen.
  • 4. Reading Recs. i. 171, 173-4, 181, 199, 211, 236, 240, 261; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 721-2; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 284, 297.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xx; Reading Charters, ed. Pritchard 38, 45; PCC 33 Carew; Reading Recs. i. 330.