Ward Hamilton Bowlby was born in the Township of Townsend. in the County of Norfolk, Ontario, Canada, on October 4th, 1834. His father was the late Adam Bowlby, of Townsend, an extensive farmer and speculator in farm lands, who owned large tracts of land in Norfolk and adjoining counties, acquired considerable wealth, and died, at the advanced age of 91 years, on the 26th February, 1883. His grandfather, Richard Bowlby, during the American Revolutionary War, was a resident of the then Province of New Jersey, and being firm in his allegiance to the British Crown, became a U. B. Loyalist, left the United States, and settled in Annapolis county, Nova Scotia, where Adam Bowlby was born in 1792. Adam Bowlby served, while a mere lad, in the war of 1812, having been placed in command of a company of coast, guardsmen to prevent the landing of piivaleers on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, and for this service he was in receipt of a pension from the Canadian Government, up to the day of his death, as one of the veterans of the war of 1812. The Bowlbys are an old English family, but as the ancestors of the subject of this sketch settled in the British provinces of America at such an early period, this branch of that family may be now properly called the colonial branch of the family, and are descended from good U. E. Loyalist stock. Tilomas William Bowlby, an English barrister and an eminent war correspondent, who, in the capacity of correspondent of the London Times, accompanied Lord Elgin as ambassador to China in I859, and was there treacherously killed by the Chinese, and to whose family the Chinese government were compelled to pay a large indemnity, was a distant relative of this branch of the same family.
The mother of the subject of this sketch was Elizabeth Sovereign, daughter of the late Leonard Sovereign, of Waterford, Ont., and niece of the late Philip Sovereign, M.P.P., member in the first parliament of Upper Canada at Niagara. Mr. Bowlby’s great-grandmother, on the father’s side, was a sister of Josiah Wedgwood, the celebrated English chemist who invented the Wedgwood ware. Ward Hamilton Bowlby was educated in a clergyman’s school at the Woodhouse Rectory, near Simcoe, and in the grammar schools at Simcoe, Streetsville and St. Thomas, and at University College, Toronto, and graduated both in arts and in law at the University of Toronto. During every year of his college course he held a first scholarship, and on graduating to the degree of B. A. in the University of Toronto, in 1856, he obtained the Jamieson gold medal, and again on graduating to the degree of LL.B., in 1858, Mr. Bowlby obtained the University gold medal in law, he being the first person who ever had that honour from the Toronto University.
Mr. Bowlby studied law in the office of the law firm of Wilson, Patterson & Beaty, of Toronto, which firm was then composed of the present Chief Justice Wilson. Judge Patterson, and Mr. James Beaty, Q.C., M.P., and he was called to the bar and admitted as a solicitor in May, 1858, and has now practised the legal profession for over twenty-seven years in Berlin. Mr. Bowlby is a member of the law firm of Bowlby & Clement, one of the leading law firms in the County of Waterloo, and is a sound lawyer, a good counsellor, an excellent cross-examiner of witnesses, and a shrewd man of business. He is also a solicitor for two of the chartered banks doing business at Berlin and Waterloo, and is solicitor for one of the largest insurance companies in Ontario. During his long professional career he has argued many important cases in the High Court at Toronto, and in the Supreme Court at Ottawa, and has always enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, and been in every way most successful, and is financially rated as one of the wealthiest citizens of Berlin.
Mr. Bowlby has often been a member of the town and county councils; was reeve of Berlin from 1863 to 1868, and has been a member of the Public School Board of Berlin for the past twenty years, and has always done his utmost to promote the interests of education. In February, 1862, the Cartier-Macdonald Government issued a proclamation dividing the County of Waterloo into two registration districts, and offered Mr. Howlby the position of registrar of North Waterloo at Berlin, but, in consequence of the fact that the old registrar afterwards elected to retain the registrarship at Berlin, the Government appointed Mr. Bowlby registrar of South Waterloo, at Preston, on March 17th, 1862, and although he, at first, accepted the office and performed its duties for a length of time, yet he refused to comply with the law requiring him to remove his place of residence from Berlin to Preston, as he would not give up his law practice at Berlin for the registrarship at Preston, and a change of government having taken place in the meantime steps were thereupon taken to abolish the new registry office for South Waterloo, and on October 15th, 1863, under the auspices of the Macdonald-Dorion Government, there was passed the Act of Parliament. 27 Viet. cap. 35, whereby the ridings of Waterloo were re-united for registration purposes. Mr. Bowlby was appointed to the offices of County Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace for the County of Waterloo, by the first Provincial Government of Ontario, on December 24th, 1867, which offices he has ever since held, and in both of which he has given every satisfaction.
Mr. Bowlby has travelled much in foreign parts, having crossed the Atlantic several times, and in the years 1877 and 1880, in company with his wife and daughter, he made a tour of fourteen months abroad and visited all the principal cities and places of interest in Great Britain and continental Europe. He is a member of the Church of England. Holding government offices for the last eighteen years, he has not recently taken any part in political matters, but in politics he is now generally supposed to be in sympathy with the Liberal party. Mr. Bowlby has one of the prettiest and most delightful residences in Berlin, situate in an enclosure of eleven acres, surrounded by a beautiful well-kept lawn, dotted over with clumps of evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubbery, and here and there flanked with spruce and cedar hedges. Mr. Bowlby has four brothers, viz., Alfred Bowlby, Esq., M.D., of Waterford ; William Bowlby. Esq., of Simcoe ; D. S. Bowlby, Esq, MD of Berlin, and J. W. Bowlby, Esq., LL. B., barrister, of Brantford ; and he has an only sister, Mary Ursula, wife of Col. Walker Powell, the Adjutant-General at Ottawa. Mr. Bowlby was married on April 10th, 1861, to Lissie, eldest daughter of the late J. Hespeler, Esq., founder of the village of Hespeler, and he has an only child, a daughter, Annie Hespeler Bowlby, now the wife of George H. Perley, Esq., a junior partner in the well-known and extensive lumbering firm of Perley & Pattee, of Ottawa
A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography Being Chiefly Men of the Time.1886