Sowerby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Sowerby surname evolved from any of several places so named in Northern England. The place name comes from the Old Norse "saurr," meaning "ground," and "the Old English "byr," meaning farm. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Sowerby family

The surname Sowerby was first found in the North Riding of Yorkshire at Sowerby, a chapelry, in the parish and union of Thirsk, wapentake of Birdforth. Another chapelry named Sowerby can be found in the West Riding of Yorkshire. [3] Both date back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when they were both recorded as Sorebi at that time. [4]

Castle Sowerby is a civil parish in the Eden District of Cumbria, England and it is here that Odierna de Sourebi was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of 1195. Years later, Richard Surby was listed in London in 1381 and in the same year, William Sourby was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls. [5]

Also in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, we found Thomas de Sawreby; and Johannes de Sawreby. [6]

"Sowerby is the name of parishes and townships in the North and West Ridings, in Lancashire, and Cumberland. Between the reigns of Charles II. and George I. three Thomas Sowerbys were buried in the minster yard, Ripon. Soureby was a Yorkshire surname in the reign of Edward I.. The Sowerbys are also represented in the counties of Cumberland, Durham (around Darlington), and Lincoln." [7]

Today, the variants Sower and Sowers is an abbreviated form of the name Sowersby. [5]

Early History of the Sowerby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sowerby research. Another 108 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1699, 1757, 1822, 1757, 1787, 1871, 1787, 1822, 1788, 1854, 1788, 1822, 1811, 1854, 1811, 1812, 1884, 1812, 1844, 1825, 1891, 1825, 1843, 1852, 1854, 1891 and 1847 are included under the topic Early Sowerby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sowerby Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Sowerby has been spelled many different ways, including Sowerby, Sowerbie, Sowersby, Sorebi, Soreby, Soureby, Sowerbutts, Sourbutts, Sorbutt, Sowers and many more.

Early Notables of the Sowerby family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Thomas Surbey, an English water engineer made notes of the lock at Hudd's Mill in 1699. James Sowerby (1757-1822) was a British naturalist and illustrator, whose sons would continue his work. He was the son of John Sowerby (descendant of an old border family through the Yorkshire branch) and Arabella, his wife, was born in London on 21 March 1757. He became a student at the Royal Academy, and was an articled pupil of Richard Wright, the marine painter. In his early years he was a teacher of drawing and a portrait-painter. His eldest son...
Another 448 words (32 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sowerby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Sowerby migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Sowerbys to arrive in North America:

Sowerby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Sowerby who settled in Philadelphia in 1843
  • William Sowerby, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1853 [8]
  • John Sowerby, aged 30, who settled in America from Northumberland, in 1893
  • William Sowerby, aged 32, who immigrated to America, in 1893
Sowerby Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Thomas Herbert Sowerby, aged 40, who landed in America from London, in 1903
  • Daniel Andrew Sowerby, aged 31, who immigrated to America from Carlisle, England, in 1907
  • Mary Sowerby, aged 28, who settled in America from Castledouglas, Scotland, in 1908
  • William Sowerby, aged 28, who landed in America from Penwrith, England, in 1909
  • Charles Sowerby, aged 42, who immigrated to the United States from London, England, in 1909
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Sowerby migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sowerby Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Thomas Sowerby, aged 53, who settled in Vancouver, Canada, in 1918

Australia Sowerby migration to Australia +

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

Sowerby Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Sowerby, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sowerby (post 1700) +

  • Leo Sowerby (1895-1968), American composer and church musician, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946
  • Paul R. Sowerby, American politician, Candidate for Mayor of Farmington Hills, Michigan, 1995 [10]
  • Isaac Sowerby, American Democratic Party politician, Member of Alaska territorial House of Representatives 1st District, 1917-22 [10]
  • James Sowerby (1757-1822), English naturalist and illustrator, born in London, son of John Sowerby (descendant of an old border family through the Yorkshire branch) and Arabella, his wife
  • George Brettingham Sowerby the Elder (1788-1854), British naturalist, illustrator, and conchologist, born in Lambeth, second son of James Sowerby
  • Arthur de Carle Sowerby (1885-1954), British naturalist, explorer, writer, and publisher in China
  • Frederick Oliver Newgent "Fred" Sowerby Sr. (1948-1976), Track and Field athlete from Antigua and Barbuda at the 1976 Summer Olympics
  • Mark Crispin Rake Sowerby (b. 1963), the Acting Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Horsham
  • Shaun Sowerby (b. 1978), South African rugby union footballer
  • George Brettingham Sowerby III (1843-1921), British conchologist, publisher, and illustrator
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Curzon Sowerby (b. 1915), English Writer serving for the Royal Navy from Orpington, Kent, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [11]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Sowerby, British Leading Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [12]

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from
  11. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook