Sowden History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Sowden date back to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from their residence in an area that was referred to as the south down. The surname may also refer to the valley where the sows were kept. In either occasion the surname denotes a place-name in the county of Devon. [1]

Early Origins of the Sowden family

The surname Sowden was first found in Devon at Sowton, a parish, in the union of St. Thomas, partly in the hundred of East Budleigh, but chiefly in that of Wonford. [2]

The earliest record of the parish was in 1420, when it was recorded as Southton. Literally the place name means "south farmstead or village." Interestingly the place name was originally known as Clis [3] at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, after the River Clyst. However, there is no known record as to why the name change took place. [4]

Early History of the Sowden family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sowden research. Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sowden History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sowden Spelling Variations

Sowden has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Many variations of the name Sowden have been found, including Sowdon, Sowden, Sowton, Sowten and others.

Early Notables of the Sowden family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Sowden Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sowden migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Sowdens to arrive on North American shores:

Sowden Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Sowden, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [5]
Sowden Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John, Michael, and Benjamin Sowden who, who settled in Maryland in 1774
Sowden Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Sowden, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1860

Australia Sowden migration to Australia +

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

Sowden Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Nathan (Nathaniel) Sowden, (b. 1803), aged 30 born in Liskeard, Cornwall, UK convicted in Cornwall on 15th October 1833, sentenced for 14 years for stealing a quilt, transported aboard the ship "Moffatt" in 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Nathan Sowden (b. 1804), aged 30, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 15th October 1833, sentenced for 14 years for stealing a bed quilt from Rachel Rowse, transported aboard the ship "Moffatt" on 4th January 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [7]
  • Thomas Sowden, aged 22, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Lord Raglan" [8]
  • John Sowden, aged 40, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"
  • Ann Sowden, aged 14, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Sowden 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:

Sowden Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Sowden, (b. 1856), aged 22, Cornish farm labourer departing on 29th August 1878 aboard the ship "Waitara" going to Bluff or Otago, New Zealand arriving in port on 3rd December 1878 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sowden (post 1700) +

  • William Henry Sowden (1840-1907), English-born, American politician, Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania
  • William Henry Sowden (1840-1907), American Democratic Party politician, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania 10th District, 1885-89 [10]
  • Peter Tasker "Paddy" Sowden (1929-2010), English professional association football player
  • Abraham Sowden (1853-1921), English first-class cricketer, who played eight matches for Yorkshire County Cricket Club in the late 1800s
  • George J. Sowden (b. 1942), English inventor and entrepreneur, inventor of the SoftBrew coffee brewing device in 2010
  • Rebecca Sowden (b. 1981), New Zealand association football player who represented New Zealand at an international level
  • Ben Sowden (b. 1983), British actor, best known for his roles as Thomas in Children's Ward (1989) and John Reed in Jane Eyre (1997)
  • Arthur Sowden (b. 1878), Australian rules footballer
  • William Sowden Sims (1858-1936), American admiral in the United States Navy, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for History (1921), eponym of the USS Sims (DD-409), USS Sims (DE-153), USS W. S. Sims (DE-1059) and the USS Admiral W. S. Sims (AP-127)


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/tasmanian_convicts_cornish.pdf
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  8. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 25th October 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Lord Raglan 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/lordraglan1854.shtml
  9. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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