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

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

The illustrious surname Bowes is classified as a habitation surname, which was originally derived from a place-name, and is one form of surname belonging to a broader group called hereditary surnames. Habitation names were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Topographic names, form the other broad category of surnames that was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree.

Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Bowes is a place-name from in the village of Bowes in Durham. The place and the surname both are derived from the Old English word bogas, which meant "bend in the river" The village was renamed Bogas in 1148.

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Since the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Bows, Bow, Bowes, Bowe, Bough, Boughs and others.

First found in Durham where they held a family seat as the Lords of Streatham Castle. They were related to Alan Niger who was Duke of Brittany. His descendant Sir William Bowes was Captain of 500 archers and Governor of Bowes Castle, which was responsible for the defense of the Kingdom against the Scots. He was great, great grandfather of Sir Adam Bowes, Steward of Richmondshire, living in 1345.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bowes research. Another 269 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1424, 1749, 1800, 1389, 1465, 1466, 1657, 1707, 1679, 1685, 1695, 1698, 1702, 1707, 1691 and 1767 are included under the topic Early Bowes History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 71 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bowes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Bowes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 101 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Bowes, or a variant listed above:

Bowes Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • John Bowes settled in Barbados in 1634
  • Katherin Bowes settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Bowes who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Bowes, aged 20, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Katherin Bowes, aged 20, landed in Virginia in 1635


Bowes Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Edmd Bowes, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Margaret Bowes settled in Maryland in 1723

Bowes Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • J. Bowes settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1822
  • I Bowes, aged 31, landed in America in 1822
  • Francis Bowes, who arrived in New York in 1822
  • John Bowes, who landed in New York in 1822
  • Edward Bowes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1828


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  • Edward Bowes (1874-1946), American radio personality
  • Cliff Bowes (1894-1929), American comedic actor
  • Walter Harold Bowes, English-born, American entrepreneur who co-founded the Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company in 1920
  • Frederick Bowes Jr. (1908-1982), American executive, Vice President, International Pitney-Bowes Inc. Stamford Connecticut
  • Euphemia Bridges Bowes (1816-1900), Scottish-born, Australian social reformer, temperance advocate and women's activist
  • Sir Harold Leslie Bowes K.C.M.G, Chairman of The Pacific Steam Navigation Company


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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: Quaerere verum
Motto Translation: To seek the truth.

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  1. 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.
  2. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  3. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  6. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  7. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  8. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The Bowes Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bowes 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 20 November 2013 at 21:15.

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