Educated at Newington College (1882-1884) and Sydney Boys High School (1888-1892), he qualified as a solicitor in 1894 after serving articles with his father. Four years later married Reinetta May Murphy. In 1910 he was defeated and again practised in partnership with his father until 1919 when he regained the seat of Nepean as a Nationalist.
From 1922 he represented Parramatta after Nepean was absorbed by that seat.
From 1923 Bowden served as Minister for Defence, resigning in 1925 due to ill health. He served on, and at times chaired, the joint select committee on electoral law in 1926 and 1927 and was a royal commissioner on the constitution between 1927 and 1929.
In the 1929 election he lost his seat.