Bewess History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The birthplace of the surname Bewess is Cornwall, a rugged peninsula in southwestern England that is noted for its strong Gaelic traditions. Even though the usage of surnames was common during the Middle Ages, all English people were known only by a single name in early times. The process by which hereditary surnames came to be used is intriguing. As the number of inhabitants of Europe swelled, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify them. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Although nickname surnames were rare among the Cornish, they did occasionally adopt names that reflected the physical characteristics or other attributes of the original bearer of the name. The name Bewess is a nickname type of surname for a handsome or beautiful person having been derived from the Old French word beau, meaning beautiful. The name could also have been a patronymic name created from the given name Hugh. Using the Welsh prefix ap or ab, the surname was Ab Hugh, which became Bugh, then Bew. Alternately, some instances of the name in Britain may have come with the Normans, perhaps deriving from the place name Bayeux in Calvados; and, it appears that the Scottish, or Northern English instances of the name may have Scandinavian roots.

Early Origins of the Bewess family

The surname Bewess was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from early times. Early recorded instances of the name include Robert le Beu, who was listed in the Assize Rolls of County Somerset in 1200. Bew Castle, a ruined 12th century castle near the village of Bewcastle, Cumbria, adds credence to the suggestion that there may have been a Scandinavian source for this name in the North.

Another branch claim descent from Normandy where "Ranulph de Bayeux was one of the Proceres of Normandy, 1050, in rebellion against Duke William. His descendants were great barons in Lincoln. The name continued long as Bayouse, Beyouse, and at last Bews." [1]

Ranulph de Bayeux, who temp. Henry I. had great possessions in Lincolnshire "whereof five Knight's Fees were held of him by Peter de Gosla (alias Gousel) who, towards the latter end of that King's Reign founded the first Abbey of the Praemonstratensian Order in this Realm, called Newhus." Both he and his son Hugh were benefactors of this Abbey. The latter died in the early part of Richard Coeur de Lion's reign. [2]

Early History of the Bewess family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bewess research. Another 57 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1640, 1249, 1218, 1224, 1225, 1234 and 1249 are included under the topic Early Bewess History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bewess Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since 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, 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, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Bewes, Bew, Bewe, Bews, Bewis and others.

Early Notables of the Bewess family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John de Bayeux (d. 1249), Justice Itinerant, otherwise called de Baiocis, a son of Hugh de Baiocis, a Lincolnshire Baron. ". He had property in Bristol and Dorset, but in 16 and 17 John forfeited it on outlawry for murder. In 1218 he paid a relief of 100l. and took possession of the family estates in Lincolnshire, and in the same year was judge itinerant for the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset, along with 'J. Bathon. et Glascon. Episc.' (Dugdale, Orig. Juridic. (Chronica Series), p. 7). Next year, 4 Henry III...
Another 105 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bewess Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Bewess family

Study of Passenger and Immigration lists has revealed that among early immigrants bearing the Bewess surname were: Robert Bew who settled in Virginia in 1623; Thomas Bew who settled in Virginia in 1730; William Bewes settled in Virginia in 1654; William Bews settled in Savannah, Georgia, in 1774..



The Bewess Motto +

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: Major ab adversis
Motto Translation: Greater through adversity.


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3


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