Coles Family Boaters

Tracing Family History: NarrowBoat, Winter 2020

Christopher M Jones

Chris M Jones explores the history of a famous family of independent boaters on the Oxford Canal

This article is not a definitive account of the entire Coles family, but instead focuses on several individuals and their boating activities down the generations in an effort to highlight the nature of the trade and traffics of the Oxford Canal. All the Coles family mentioned here can be genetically traced back to John Coles who worked as a coal dealer, baker and boatman of Kirtlington, a village just south of Banbury. He married his wife Rosetta in 1827 and started a family. Her memorable name would echo down the subsequent generations – her son even had a boat named after her.George and William: second generation Two of John and Rosetta’s sons were William, born 1830, and George, born 1835; they were the earliest members of the family that show up in the canal records as boat-owners. George bought a second-hand boat named Fanny and reweighed it on the Oxford Canal in March 1865. William Coles followed with two boats: Italian Hero weighed in April 1866, followed by Unex…

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