Bowes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Another source claims " about the time of the Conqueror, there was a town (on the site of the Castle of Bowes), which the tradition of the family states, was burned. It then belonged to the Earls of Brittany and Richmond. The castle was built, as Mr. Horseley thinks, out of the ruins of the Roman Fortress, by Alan Niger, the second earl of that title, who, it is said, placed therein William, his relation, with five hundred archers to defend it against some insurgents in Cambridge and Westmorland confederated with the Scots, giving him for the device of his standard the arms of Brittany, with three bows and a bundle of arrows, whence both the castle and the commander derived their names; the former being called Bowes Castle, and the latter, William de Arcubus, or William Bowes." [1]

Early Origins of the Bowes family

The surname Bowes was first found in Durham where they held a family seat as the Lords of Streatham Castle. "The family of Bowes held some lands [in Ingleton] under the Nevills, who possessed the greater part of the township as a member of Raby." [2]

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.

Early History of the Bowes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bowes research. Another 134 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1424, 1749, 1800, 1389, 1465, 1466, 1657, 1707, 1679, 1685, 1695, 1698, 1702, 1707, 1517, 1556, 1585, 1527, 1580, 1502, 1568, 1510, 1521, 1616, 1691, 1767, 1718 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Bowes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bowes Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Bowes family (pre 1700)

Notable of this family during the Middle Ages was Sir William Bowes (1389-1465); and his son, Sir William Bowes (died 1466), Sheriff of Northumberland; and Sir William Bowes (1657-1707), an English landowner and politician, Member of Parliament for County Durham (1679-1685), (1695-1698) and (1702-1707.) Sir George Bowes (1517-1556), was Commander in Border warfare and was a posthumous son of Sir Ralph Bowes of Dalden, Streatlam, and South Cowton. Marmaduke Bowes (d. 1585), was a Catholic martyr, described as a substantial Yorkshire yeoman, of Angram Grange, near Appleton, in Cleveland. [3] Sir George Bowes (1527-1580), was a military commander, the son of Richard Bowes and...
Another 205 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bowes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bowes family to Ireland

Some of the Bowes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bowes migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • John Bowes, who settled in Barbados in 1634
  • Katherin Bowes, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Bowes who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Bowes, aged 20, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • Katherin Bowes, aged 20, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bowes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Edmd Bowes, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [4]
  • Margaret Bowes, who settled in Maryland in 1723
Bowes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • J. Bowes, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1822
  • I Bowes, aged 31, who landed in America in 1822 [4]
  • Francis Bowes, who arrived in New York in 1822 [4]
  • John Bowes, who landed in New York in 1822 [4]
  • Edward Bowes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1828 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bowes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bowes Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Bowes Jr., who landed in Canada in 1821
  • James Bowes Sr., who arrived in Canada in 1821
  • Thomas Bowes, who arrived in Canada in 1821
  • John Bowes, who landed in Nava Scotia in 1831
  • Margaret Bowes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1832
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Bowes migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bowes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Bowes, English convict from York, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. John Bowes, (b. 1814), aged 26, British Ploughman who was convicted in York, England for 15 years for forgery, transported aboard the "Asia" on 25th April 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1840 [6]
  • John Bowes, aged 39, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Indian" [7]
  • John Bowes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Indian" in 1849 [7]
  • Margaret Bowes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Indian" in 1849 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bowes migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bowes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Jackson Bowes, aged 20, a carpenter, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • Sarah Bowes, aged 35, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • John Bowes, aged 3, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • Thomas Bowes, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • Dinah Bowes, aged 27, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Thomas Harrison" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bowes (post 1700) +

  • Frederick Bowes Jr. (1908-1982), American executive, Vice President, International Pitney-Bowes Inc. Stamford Connecticut
  • Walter Harold Bowes, English-born, American entrepreneur who co-founded the Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company in 1920
  • Cliff Bowes (1894-1929), American comedic actor
  • Edward Bowes (1874-1946), American radio personality
  • Theodore F. Bowes, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, 1953-61 [8]
  • James A. Bowes, American politician, Mayor of North Adams, Massachusetts, 1947-51 [8]
  • Homer W. Bowes Sr., American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 8th District, 1948 [8]
  • Henry W. Bowes, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 29th District, 1896 [8]
  • Edward Francis Bowes, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from New York County 15th District, 1934 [8]
  • Donald C. Bowes, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Rensselaer County, 1956; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1960 [8]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Blanche  Bowes (1891-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
HMAS Sydney II
HMS Royal Oak
  • Matthew Bowes, British Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [11]


The Bowes 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: Quaerere verum
Motto Translation: To seek the truth.


  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1826
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1840
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The INDIAN 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Indian.htm
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  10. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  11. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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