Gowlland, Richard Archie -  1892 - 1968


Geoff Gowlland was always interested in two lines of "Unconnected Gowllands" and for many years sought to incorporate them into the Family Tree.

For one of these, the pencilled details below show the point he had reached by the early 1950s. 



He corresponded with Richard Archie Gowlland in 1952, who regrettably knew little of his background, as is clear from his letter above (for the full correspondence with Richard Archie Gowlland, click here).   However, he had more success with Richard Archie's younger brother Charles (click here for the correspondence).


We now know that their father was Richard Gowlland born in 1852 (click here), the son of Richard "coach-painter" Gowlland (1815 - 1871) who was the son of Josiah Gowlland (1781 - ?) who was himself the grandson of Joseph and Susanna Gowlland. 


In 2007 we obtained details (click here) of an 1878 Church of England marriage by licence, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, between Richard Gowlland (age 25, bachelor, born London, occupation soldier [the Salvation Army connection, perhaps?], born London, parents Richard and Susan Gowlland, father's occupation - coachpainter), and Catherine McInnis (age 21, born Sydney CB [Sydney is in Cap Breton Island, some two hundred miles north-east of Halifax], parents John and Margaret McInnis, father's occupation - farmer).  The marriage is recorded in Halifax County Book 1816, Page 244, Number 400.


Richard Archie Gowlland was born (click here) on 10th November 1892 at Nanaimo BC.  Despite the missing middle name, it seems probable that this was he, as he would have been twenty-five years of age in August 1919, the age given on his marriage certificate of that year.  The child's father's name is shown as Richard Gowlland, and the mother's maiden name is Catherine McInnes.  The father's occupation is very difficult to read, but might be "Miner".


The main attraction for us is Richard Archie's war records from the Canadian Army which are voluminous and exemplary.  There are far too many to include in this biography, but every one is being listed, in chronological order, in the index to the Military Documents (click here): many of them (the most interesting, of course) have been, and will be,scanned and published to this website.


On Discharge a folder was lodged in the archives with all the documents relating to his military service  -  click here but, be warned, it is almost illegible (presumably it was made from dark cardboard, and there was insufficient contrast for the photocopying to give a good image).  However, it looks as if it originally contained the following:-


            1            His name "Richard Archie Gowlland", regimental number (736857), rank (Pte), Corps (113th Bn C E F [presumably Canadian

                          Expeditionary Force], followed by the annotation "Med Unfit"

            3            Attestation Papers

            21          Casualty Forms   

            1            Proceedings on Discharge

            1            [Illegible] Certificate

            3            Medical Report for Invalids

            3            Medical History Sheet

            1            Last Pay Certificate

            13          Documents identified only by serial numbers.


On 8th March 1915 Richard Archie first enlisted and the Attestation Form he completed can be viewed here and here.   Two of his answers are interesting:-


1            He gives his year of birth as "1894", amended to "1893".  But on page 2 of the form he shows his age as "22 years 7 months", which implies a

              birth year of 1892, which agrees with the date above.


2            His occupation is shown as "Coal Miner".   This is the first such mention in any of the Gowlland biographies.


His physical description, incidentally, shows his height as 5 feet 8 inches, chest 36 inches, complexion dark, eyes grey , hair fair, and religious denomination Church of England.




On 3rd April 1916 (above - click here for enlarged image) he underwent a physical examination at Lethbridge, Alberta, in which his age was shown as 20 years ? months, and his trade as "painter".  It appears that this was the day on which he actually joined the army.  This form evidently accompanied him to France, and it finishes with his being invalided out of the Army in April 1918, after having been wounded.


On September 8th 1916 he completed form MFW 67 which was concerned with his Family, and this showed he was neither married nor widowed, that his father was alive and still living at the 1915 address, and that his mother was no longer alive.


To condense the story, he was sent to France, wounded within a few weeks of arrival, treated in hospitals in France and England, and finally repatriated to Canada.  There are very many hospital records of this period, and further details may be provided upon request.  They are recorded in the Index of Military Documents (click here).


[For those interested in the First Wold War, there is an excellent site called www.firstworldwar.com, which is strongly recommended.  For example, there is a contemporary sketch showing the passage of wounded soldiers from the front line to hospital - click here.


On 3rd December 1918 he appeared before a Medical Board, back in his home province of British Columbia, where the Board considered his medical history as detailed in form MFB 227 (here, here and here).  The first page provides a useful summary of his service, the nature and progress of his wound, and his physical description at the end of the war.  Note in page 3 that he is described as left-handed  -  I believe this is quite unusual for Gowllands.  The Board's recommendation was that he be discharged under Category "E".  -  "Could not use brush for any length of time".


Finally, on 7th December 1918 he was discharged (here and here).  In addition to the appendectomy scar noted at his enlistment, he now has a "star shaped scar left forearm", resulting from the gunshot wound for which he was hospitalised; and he has apparently acquired another scar resulting from another gun shot wound, this time to the rear of the right thigh  -  but no mention of this appears in the other documents.   Note that his conduct is described as "Very Good".  Those Gowllands were always beyond reproach!   In an annexe to this form, it was noted that he had served 9.1/2 months in France, and was entitled to one gold casualty stripe; and on the day of his discharge he had served for 2 years 249 days.


No doubt he blessed his good fortune at having escaped relatively unscathed from what, as confirmed by the discharge certificate, had been 9.1/2 months in France.

On 23rd August 1919 he married Helen Lack in Christ Church, Vancouver: click here for the marriage certificate.  The licence details are "Richard Archie Gowlland, age 25, bachelor, mechanic, residence Nanaimo BC, born Nanaimo BC, father Richard Gowlland, profession painter, religion C of E, bride Helen Lack, age 22, spinster, saleslady, residence Blisworth England, born Blisworth England, father John Lack, mother Elizabeth née Adams, father's profession house keeper, religion C of E".   It will be seen that Richard Archie's profession has changed to "mechanic"  -  obviously the Medical Board on discharge were correct in concluding he would no longer be able to follow his former occupation of painter. 

One of the two witnesses is "Chas R Gowlland", obviously Richard Archie's younger brother, who would have been twenty-three at the time of the marriage.  The other witness is "Margret Gowlland" (see below).

As to his bride, the only Lack birth recorded in 1895-98 was in the name of Harriet Nellie Lack, in the first quarter of 1897, registered at Towcester, which is about five miles from Blisworth.   In the 1901 census, Harriet N aged four is recorded as living in Blisworth with her father John H Lack (36), profession "Housekeeper Ironstone" (?), mother Ellen C (36), profession lace maker, sister Florence (2), and Frederick Adams (77), father-in-law, and Harriet Adams (68), mother-in-law.  The surname of these last two corresponds with the maiden name on Helen's marriage certificate, of course. as does the occupation of John Lack.  Click here for the record.

Richard Archie's brother Charles Robert was born on 30th March 1895 in Nanaimo, BC, Canada (the Insurance Company seeking him had given Geoff his year of birth as 1897, but when did an insurance company ever get anything right?).  He died on 7th May 1975 in Vancouver.

There is one more birth record, Sarah Elizabeth (16/10/1889), also at Nanaimo; and we presume her to have been a sister to Richard and Charles..

In the spring of 2007, the Canadian Authorities released selected 1901 and 1911 census entries, and these, in both cases for Nanaimo, have been invaluable.

In the 1901 entry (click here), with the surname wrongly spelt with one L, we have Richard and Katherine (she seems to have been quite indiscriminate over spelling it with a 'K' or a 'C'), and six children, the youngest two being Richard Archie and Charles, aged seven and five respectively.  The oldest four are John William (b 3rd February 1883), Susan (b 20th Feb 1885), Maggie [evidently the "Margret" on the 1919 marriage certificate] (b 9th October 1889) and Sarah [evidently the Sarah Elizabeth of whose 1889 Nanaimo birth we already knew] (b 16th October 1889).

In the 1911 entry (click here), with the surname spelt correctly this time, the only child remaining at home is "Charlie".

There is a death on 8th July 1913 of a Catherine Gowlland, also at Nanaimo, aged fifty-three - click here.  This is clearly the Catherine née McInnes, the mother of Richard, Charles and Sarah, who is named on Richard Archie's birth certificate.  Note that the death certificate gives her maiden name as "McGinnes"  -  presumably the (left-handed?) clerk relied on phonetic spelling for this: her mother's maiden name was Ferguson; and both her parents were born in Scotland.  They had emigrated to Nova Scotia prior to Catherine's birth in 1858.  She had lived in Nanaimo for twenty-three years - in other words, she arrived there in about 1890.

We have also obtained the death certificate of 22nd January 1920 for Richard Gowland (one L) (click here), "widowed, resident for thirty years in Nanaimo BC, born London, England on 1st January 1849, aged 71 years and 29 days, occupation painter".  Father's name is given as "Richard Gowland, born England"; but mother's maiden name and birthplace are both shown as "unknown".   There is a blank against "How long in Canada, if foreign born": we know that in fact he had arrived in Canada about 1889.  The informant was Richard Gowland Jnr, also of Nanaimo, BC.  The one-L spelling would be unexpected were it not for the fact that, judging by the handwriting, this was evidently written by the clerk, not by Richard Archie (who consistently spelt his name with two L's).

There is a major question mark over the birth date (1/1/1849) cited by Richard Archie. Between 1st July 1848 and 30th June 1850, with one known exception, there is no male birth recorded in London, nor any birth with the first name Richard, for Gowlland, Gowland or Gouland.  For the moment, the assumption must be that Richard Archie gave the registrar an incorrect date, and that the 1852 date we have been using is correct.  This slip-up may be attributed to the fact that they evidently possessed few family papers, an example being Richard Archie's ignorance of his grandmother's maiden name and place of birth.

The Nanaimo connection is interesting.  No doubt coincidentally, Nanaimo is situated quite close to the part of Vancouver Bay in which many of the geographical names incorporate "Gowlland", in tribute to John Thomas Ewing's surveys of around 1860.



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