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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish, Welsh

Where did the Welsh Bowen family come from? What is the Welsh Bowen family crest and coat of arms? When did the Bowen family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Bowen family history?

From the Celtic land of Wales came the name of Bowen. The Welsh name Bowen is a patronymic surname created from the Welsh personal name Owen, or Owein. The surname Bowen was originally ab-Owen: the distinctive Welsh patronymic prefix "ab" or "ap," means "son of," but the prefix has been assimilated into the surname over the course of time.


The Welsh have an extremely large amount of spelling variations of their native surnames to their credit. It was up to the priest or the scribe taking the official records to determine how the spoken name was to be made literal. As time progressed, the old Brythonic names of Wales were recorded in English, which was especially problematic since the English language had extreme difficulty recording the highly inflected sounds of Cymraeg. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Bowen have included Bowen, Bowne, Bowan, Bowin, Bowene, Bowane and many more.

First found in Pembrokeshire (Welsh: Sir Benfro), a county in south-west Wales, anciently part of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, long before the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bowen research. Another 127 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1761, 1797 and 1704 are included under the topic Early Bowen History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 193 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bowen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Bowen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 105 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


During the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Wales journeyed to North America to find a new life. They made major contributions to the arts, industry and commerce of both Canada and the United States, and added a rich cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Bowen:

Bowen Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Morris Bowen, who landed in Virginia in 1638
  • Griffith Bowen, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1639
  • Sarah Bowen, who arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1640
  • Anna Bowen, who arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1642
  • Phillip Bowen, who arrived in Virginia in 1643

Bowen Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Edwd Bowen, who arrived in Virginia in 1701-1702
  • Peter Bowen, who landed in New England in 1716
  • Lewis Bowen settled in Georgia in 1733
  • James Bowen settled in Maryland in 1774

Bowen Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Susanna Bowen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • N. W. Bowen settled in Providence Rhode Island in 1823
  • Patrick Bowen, who arrived in New York in 1832
  • Eli A Bowen, who landed in Texas in 1835
  • Robert Bowen, who arrived in New York in 1835


  • Andrea Lauren Bowen (b. 1990), Award-winning American actress
  • Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897-1973), American writer of semi fictional biographies and winner of the National Book Award in 1958
  • Dr. Otis Ray Bowen (1918-2013), American politician and physician, Governor of Indiana (1972-1980)
  • Ira Sprague Bowen (1898-1973), American astronomer who served as director of both the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Palomar Observatory
  • Captain Stephen G. Bowen (b. 1964), NASA Astronaut with over 27 days in space and the first to ever fly on two consecutive missions (STS-132 and STS-133)
  • Brigadier-General Charles Francis Bowen (1889-1977), American Adjutant-General of New Hampshire (1939-1947)
  • Major-General Frank Sayles Jr. Bowen (1905-1976), American Commanding General XII Corps (1958-1960)
  • Miss Grace Scott Bowen, aged 45, American First Class passenger from Cooperstown, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 4
  • Mr. David John "Dai" Bowen (d. 1912), aged 26, Welsh Third Class passenger from Treherbert, Glamorgan who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Edmund Bowen FRS (1898-1981), British chemist created a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1935



  • Bowens of Virginia and Tennessee: Descendants of John Bowen and Lily McIlhaney by Jamie Ault Grady.
  • Ancestry and Descendants (including the Bowen Family) of Isaac Applin Sheppard and Caroline Mary Holmes, His Wife by Walter Lee Sheppard.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Esse quam videri
Motto Translation: To be, rather than to seem.


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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  3. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  4. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-005-8).
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  11. ...

The Bowen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bowen Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 25 September 2014 at 08:50.

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