Origin of the surname
The surname Poulton was probably given to individuals who came from the one of the many villages in Britain that are named Poulton. The word is simply the combining of the two Old English words Pol and Tun meaning Pool and Settlement or Enclosure (i.e. 'settlement by the pool'). The 'ton' at the end of the name may signify whether it is a Saxon or Norman word.

Spelling variations include: Poulton, Poolton, Pulton, Pullton, Polton, Pouleton and many more.

The name was first found in Cheshire where they were anciently seated at Poulton cum Spital cum Seacombe, just west of Birkenhead.

Places with the name of Poulton are referred to in the Doomsday Book. They are variously Pontone; Pulton; Poltone; Poltun; Poltune.

The list of Poulton towns and villages includes:-

  1. POULTON-le-Fylde near Blackpool in Lancashire 
  2. POULTON-le-Sands, now part of Morecambe in Lancashire 
  3. POULTON near Liverpool, Cheshire 
  4. POULTON cum Seacombe, now part of Wallasey in Cheshire 
  5. POULTON cum Spital, now part of Bromborough in Cheshire 
  6. POULTON Lancelyn, a hamlet in Poulton cum Spital 
  7. POULTON a hamlet in Pulford near Chester in Cheshire 
  8. POULTON a hamlet of Asterley in Shropshire 
  9. POULTON now part of Awre in Gloucestershire 
  10. POULTON near Cirencester in Gloucestershire 
  11. POULTON Priory in Gloucestershire 
  12. POULTON an ancient village, now part of Mildenhall near Marlborough in Wiltshire 
  13. POULTON Wood in Aldington, near Ashford in Kent 
  14. POULTON a village near Deal in Kent, which declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the early 16th Century 
  15. POLTON near Edinburgh in Midlothian in Scotland There are also over 3000 deserted medieval villages, some of these may have been called POULTON

The earliest named Poultons are:-

John Poulton, 1830 - 1884
John Poulton was born in 1830 at Preston in the English County of Lancashire. Little is known of his family or childhood but, like many young men in this region, he went down the mines at an early age. He married Elizabeth Clarkson on 1 May 1854 at Lancashire and they had a son, John, in 1858.

Their son was still in nappies when John and Elizabeth decided to leave England and emigrate to Australia. This was a decision made by numerous young couples in the area in the 1850s. No doubt the unhealthy and dangerous nature of the miner's work was a significant factor in their decision. The fact that their first child (before John junior) had died young would also have been an important factor.

The young couple emigrated from Liverpool on 13 November 1859 aboard Fitzjames. It was, however, a tragic journey due to the death of their young toddler en route to Sydney. It must have been a heavy burden for both parents to bear, particularly Elizabeth who was in the advanced stages of pregnancy.

The lonely couple arrived in Sydney on 20 February 1860 and soon found lodgings in Botany Road where their daughter, Alice Clarkson Poulton, was born six weeks later.

Very little more is know of the lives of John Poulton and Elizabeth Clarkson. She was not present when he died at Coonamble Hospital on on 5 September 1884 of acute inflammation of both lungs. He was just 54 years old and, most probably, a victim of the coal dust inhaled during the years spent down a Lancashire mine.

Alice Clarkson Poulton, 1860 - 1927
Ma Bowen: Alice Clarkson Poulton 1860-1927

Alice Clarkson Poulton (pictured here circa 1920) was born on 23 March 1860 in Botany Road, Sydney a few weeks after her parents (John Poulton and Elizabeth Clarkson) arrived in Australia on board Fitzjames.

Little is known of her life until she married John Henry Bowen on 20 October 1878 in Coonamble. She had 12 children during the next 22 years before her husband died in 1902 when her youngest (Uncle Bill) was just 2 years old. Her children were:
    Thomas Martin Bowen (25 Jul 1879 - c1880)
    Albert John Bowen (28 Dec 1880 - )
    Ellen Ruby Bowen (16 Sep 1882 - 14 Apr 1912)
    James Daniel Bowen (4 Dec 1884 - )
    Elizabeth Alice Bowen (10 Aug 1887 - ); Auntie Liz
    Ivy May Josephine Bowen (14 Nov 1889 - ); Auntie Ive
    John Martin Bowen (25 Dec 1891 - )
    Lillian May Bowen (22 May 1893 - ); Auntil Lil
    Thomas William Bowen (29 Nov 1895)
    Alice Mary Bowen (21 Mar 1897 - c1983); Auntie Min
    Cornelius Patrick Joseph Bede Bowen (6 Feb 1899 - c1940); Uncle Con
    William Bede Bowen (4 Nov 1900 - ); Uncle Bill

Family Portrait Bowen c1892Bowen family portrait circa 1892
Back row:
John Henry Bowen, Ellen Ruby Bowen
Middle row:
Elizabeth Alice Bowen, Alice Clarkson Bowen (nee Poulton) nursing John Martin, Ivy May Josephine Bowen, James Daniel Bowen
Front row:
Albert John Bowen

Ten years after her husband died, in 1912, tragedy struck again as her daughter (Ellen Ruby Bowen) died of typhoid leaving Ma to rear three young grandchildren (Jack, Leila and Ena Murphy) in addition to several of her own children who were still at school.

In those days there was no welfare and, with no husband, times were very hard. It was necessary for this extended family to support one another through a very difficult time. The  family was very close for several generations afterward as as her children and grandchildren learned from Ma Bowen's experience..

Read how the family lived in the years before, during and after World War I in Ena Ruby Murphy's account of her childhood in Ma Bowen's care.

Alice Clarkson Bowen (nee Poulton) was 67 years old when she finally passed away on 27 November 1927. She is buried in the Bourke cemetery.

Family Group Sheet

Descendants Chart



The Bowen clan, Christmas 1961
Judy Dickson, Alison Barton, Alice Dugan, Marie Turner, Leila Barton, Peta Fleming, Ena Kessey, Penny Kessey, Halvar Kessey, Joe Williams
Middle: Debbie Turner, Donna Turner, Lei Barton, Jack Barton, Laurie Dugan
Front: Peter Dickson, Lee Turner, Max Bannister, Johnny Dickson, x, Tickie Thorne, Bruce Fleming, Jim Fleming, Claire Barton

Copyright Jim Fleming 2002.
This page created on 30 June 2002.
Last edited on 26 May 2004.
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