Sir Jerome BOWES

Born: BEF 1554, Eggleston, Durham  and of St. Martin in the Fields, London

Died: ABT 1616

Father: John BOWES (Sir Knight)

Mother: Dorothy MARKHAM

Married: Joan ROKEWOOD (w. of Christopher Calthorpe) 12 Aug 1562



Sir Jerome Bowes held land in Eggleston - only a few miles from Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum. Bowes was temporarily banished from court in 1577 for slandering Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was appointed ambassador from Queen Elizabeth to Ivan IV, tsar of Russia in Jun 1583.

The apocryphal stories about this mission survived until the end of the seventeenth century and references to them can be found in a number of treatises on Russian history published in London between 1671 and 1699, as well as in Samuel Pepyss diary. In these stories Bowes appears as a valiant subject of the queen who fearlessly defended his sovereign before Ivan the Terrible.

Sir Jerome Bowes was sent to Moscow as ambassador to the Emperor Ivan Vasilovich. On entering the presence chamber, he was desired by the emperor to take his seat at ten paces distance, and send to him her majesty's letter and present. Sir Jerome thinking this unreasonable, stepped forward towards the emperor, but was intercepted by the chancellor, who wished to take the letters. The ambassador said, that 'her majesty had directed no letters to him', and so went forward, and delivered them himself into the emperor's own hands.

His irascibility was admired by the tempestuous Russian tsar who, after many a stormy scene, finally satisfied all the demands presented by the ambassador. Bowes himself had always insisted that the collapse of his mission was brought about by the death of Ivan. This understanding of his mission to Moscow became accepted even at the time although the Muscovy Company, on whose behalf it was undertaken, constantly accused Bowes of mishandling the negotiations. Neither he, nor the company, nor later historians were correct in their interpretation of affairs. Bowes was given the impossible task of procuring the most advantageous trading privileges for the English without giving the tsar anything in return. During the negotiations which lasted from 18 Oct 1583 until 17 Feb 1584, Bowes had fourteen audiences with Ivan and his ministers. Termed a plenipotentiary ambassador in the Queens letter, he had no power to conclude anything and was instructed to take away from the tsar even that little which had been given to him during the preceding negotiations with the Russian ambassador in London. He had to bluff his way through the negotiations, which he also sustained by that want of temperance so deplored by the company.

On 14 Feb 1584 he was dismissed by Ivan with these words:

Since you came to us with nothing, we will send you back with what you brought us

Bowes was given an official leave on 17 Feb by the tsars councillors. Thus his mission was finished a month before Ivans death on 19 Mar. Bowes was caught in the turmoil which took place in Moscow after the tsars death. His relations with Ivans councillors were extremely strained during the negotiations. Bowess continuous accusations that they were hampering the talks brought Ivans wrath on several of them. After the tsars death, Bowes was placed under house arrest and stood in real fear of his life for some six weeks before he was finally allowed to depart.

Sir Jerome Bowes sat in the 1601 and 1604 Parliaments.

It is possible that Sir Jerome Bowes married Joan Rokewood by license in Suffolk but this needs to be substantiated. As no wife is mentioned in his will it it presumed that any wife would have  predeceased him or else, he did not marry. No children were mentioned in his will. In his Will, Sir Jerome Bowes states Lady Frances Manwood (nee' Harte) and Sir Percival Harte to be his neice and nephew. It is therefore very probable that one of Jerome's sisters, Anne or Elizabeth Bowes married Sir George Harte of Lullingstone Castle, Kent who was father of Frances and Percival. Other bequests to his nephew John, son of his brother Edward Bowes, niece Lady Frances Manwood, Sir Peter Manwood, Knight, niece Elizabeth, niece Dorothy, niece Frances, niece Elizabeth Harte, god daughter Bowes Manwood, nephew Thomas Bowes (son of his nephew John Bowes who was son of his brother Edward Bowes, nephew Sir Percival Harte, nephew Sir Peter Manwood.


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