Corporal

William Charles Bowden
Royal Artillery


Photograph courtesy of BC Archives
Call Number G-01121

[Much of the following information was researched and kindly made available by Mr. Brian Excell ]

William Bowden was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1830.

On 11 January, 1848, at the age of 18 years and 4 months, Bowden enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Lisburn (near Newtownards, Co. Down, Ireland).  His enlistment number was 2594.  He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, No. 7 Company.  At the time of enlistment a labourer.

Artillery other ranks' full dress tunic, Pattern 1855.  Dark blue cloth with scarlet collar.  Edged down the front opening and around the bottom of the skirt with scarlet cloth.  Collar edging and Austrian knots on cuffs of yellow wool artillery cord.  Waist belt, frog and button are of an earlier period.  The single gun button replaced the three-gun pattern ca. 1873. Artillery other ranks' full dress tunic, rear, Pattern 1855.  Note two buttons at rear of skirt.  Skirt closed at rear with a plait at each side, edged with scarlet cloth.  Black leather 20-round ammunition pouch and white leather pouch belt.
The above comes from the New Brunswick Museum collection.

Bowden was posted to Devonport.  His Company commander was Capt A. A. Shuttleworth.

Bowden served as a Gunner from 12 January, 1848 to the 7th of May, 1857 (9 years 116 days)

Bowden was absent 6 May, 1851 to 9th May, 1851 (4 days) and for his absence was imprisoned from the 10 May, 1851 to 8 June, 1851 (30 days ).

Receiving permission from his Commanding Officer, Bowden was married on 12 July, 1852 to Amelia (surname still unknown).

In 1853, Bowden serves abroad in the British Fortress of Halifax in the Canadas from 11 October, 1853 to 23 December, 1853.

Halifax was in the same district as Bermuda (according to how the British Army saw things) and Bowden was next posted off to Bermuda from 24 Dec, 1853 to 17 March, 1857.  While in Bermuda, Bowden still served with No. 7 Company.  Bowden's company commander was Capt. Nixon.

In the R.A., pay under 5 years service was per day 1Shilling 3 1/4 pence -- or one pound 18 shillings and 1 1/2d per month.

Bowden was promoted to Bombadier 8th May to 30th Sept, 1857 (146 days)---total 9 years 262 days.

Bowden served as Bombardier from 1 October to 13 Feb 1858 and from 14 Feb, 1858 to 31 July, 1858 having received "good conduct" pay at 2d on 14 Feb, 1858.

Bowden was then promoted to Corporal 1 August, 1858.

Bowden volunteers to serve in the Columbia Detachment.

He and his wife sail with a detachment of Royal Engineers on the Euphrates from London Docks on the 3rd of January, 1859, and arrived at Victoria on the 27th June, 1859.

It appears that Bowden may have been stationed in the Camp, as opposed to being in the field.  He would have been working under Captain Luard, most likely, as Captain Parsons the other officer in Camp, would have surrounded himself with Trades which focused on the Survey Office.

1861- Attached as Orderly to Governor James Douglas.

RE Camp
8th July, 1861

Sir,

I have the honor to inform you that subsequent to my inspecting in company with Corporal Bowden the roads beyond Douglas Street in course of construction, Mr. Hodgkinson represented to me that he had done a considerable amount of work on the 3 miles contracted for by him making as he considered the nature of the work agree with the terms of the Specifications and pressed that

[remainder of letter missing]

1867- Obtained rank of Sgt. in the Victoria City Police Department.

Amelia Bowden
b. Kingston, Devonshire, England
d. Victoria, Canada July 27, 1870

The British Colonist, July 28, 1870

In this city, July 27th, Amelia, wife of William Bowden, aged 40 years, a native of Kingston, Devonshire.  Friends and acquaintances are respectively invited to attend the funeral from the residence of deceased husband, View St., at 41/2 o’clock, Thursday afternoon, July 28.

The British Colonist, July 29, 1870

The funeral for the late Mrs. Bowden, wife of Inspector Of Police, took place yesterday and was very numerously attended, the members of both lodges of IOOF turning out in strong force.  The remains were taken into St. Andrew’s Church where the Rev. McGregor improved the sad occasion, after which the procession reformed and proceeded to the cemetery.

1870- rank of Inspector of City Police, Victoria.  Married Kate Longfellow 16 December 1870 in Victoria.  (BC Archives)

According to Mr. Excell:

My mother told me that her grandmother, Emily Louisa Bowden (William's 3rd child), did not like her as a stepmother.  After William's death my g grandmother Emily went to live with her older sister Eliza Amelia and her new husband, J. McBride Smith (according to the 1881 census).

--2004, Letter from Brian Excell

According to Woodward, Bowden received Crown Grant, November 30, 1870, for Lot 55, Group 2, New Westminster District, 150 acres.

1873 - 1877 Superintendent of Police, Victoria.

According to Mr. Excell, Bowden re-marries after the death of his first wife, Amelia, to a M. N. Wiggs.  The marriage took place on the 28th of Sept. 1875 in Portland Oregon.

1876- Obtained rank of Superintendent Of Provincial Police.

Bowden's daughter married Magistrate George Jay

Died, July 26, 1879, Victoria, Canada, at the age of 49.

William Charles Bowden
b. Belfast, Ireland 1830
d July 26, 1879, Victoria, Canada

The Daily Colonist, Tuesday Morning - July 29, 1879

On Sunday morning, we briefly announced that Mr. Wm Bowden, ex-Superintendent of Police, expired on Cormorant street at a late hour on Saturday night from internal hemorrhage.  Deceased, who was born at Belfast, Ireland, in 1830, came to this Province in 1858 in company with a detachment of Sappers and at that time belonged to the Royal Artillery.  He was subsequently appointed Orderly to Governor Douglas, a position which he filled for several years, and in 1867 he joined the police force with the rank of Sergeant.  The ability and assiduity he displayed in the execution of his duties in this office led to well merited promotion and in the course of time he was appointed Inspector of City Police.  This position he also filled in a manner alike creditable to himself and his country and when, on the assumption of power by the Elliott Government it was deemed prudent on the grounds of economy, to amalgamate the position with that of Superintendent Of Provincial Police, Mr. Bowden was appointed to act in the dual capacity.

He held this important position for a considerable period, but almost immediately after a political revulsion, in which the present Government gained the ascendancy, he was suspended for alleged mismanagement of the city gaol and police barracks.  A public investigation was awaited for several weeks and the attention of the Government was called to the matter in the leading journal of the Province.  No investigation, however, of a public character was held and after the Government had permitted a cloud to hang over Mr. Bowden for an unwarrantable period he was removed from office, and the present incumbent was appointed to his stead.

From this time the deceased's health commenced to fail and although, with a sense of duty towards his family, he subsequently accepted a subordinate position in the police force it was apparent that he no longer had the vigorous constitution, fine physique and determination of action which were characteristic of him in former days.  Having recovered from a severe illness in February last he enjoyed a brief period of comparative good health, but on Thursday last had an unexplained relapse.

On Friday night at half-past 10 o'clock he lost the power of speech and after lying in a comatose state for 24 hours passed quietly away surrounded by his wife and daughters.  The funeral of the deceased took place yesterday under the auspices of the Odd Fellows, the remains being conveyed to the Presbyterian Church and thence to Ross Bay Cemetery.  The hearse was followed by a very numerous cortège, comprising members of the I.O.O.F, members of the Police Force, members of the Pioneer Society and a large number of friends and acquaintances.  The coffin, which bore a simple inscription giving the name of the deceased, his age, the time and place of death, was covered with beautiful flowers sent by Lady Douglas and friends of the deceased.  Following are the names of the pallbearers: Messrs. R. Jeffrey, C. Gowen, O. Kent, W. McNiff and Police Officers Quain and Dale."

Buried in historic Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.