Last name: Dow

This surname is of medieval origins, and is generally considered to be a nickname. It derives from either the Welsh "Daw", a pet name form of David, the Hebrew for "friend", or it derives from "dawe", the jackdaw. The latter popular version is typically Chaucerian and shows the wicked and robust Middle English sense of humour, the bird being renowned for its colourful display, rattish display and loud, raucous call, clearly the original nameholders were literally "Jack the lad(s)"! The name recordings include: Robert Dow, of Cumberland, in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls, and Lawrence Dow, of Somerset, a witness at the Assize Court held at Taunton in 1254. The famous John Doe of America history was a "Dow", a John Dow being recorded in Enfield, on January 1st 1589, although the first Dowe into America would seem to be Henrey Dowe, of Ormsby, Norfolk, on April 11th 1637. He was preceded in May 1635 by one Jo. Doe, who left England on the ship "Mathew of London" under warrant from the Earl of Carlisle and King Charles 1 (1625 - 1649). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Dowe, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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Surname Scroll

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John Dow
According to the book of Dow, Genealogical Memoirs, complied by Robert Piercy Dow: "The name Doe is confused with Dow only in ignorance..." "The name Dow is even more common in Scotland than in England, and from Scotland the Dows invaded Ireland in vast hordes." As in England, there was never a single Dow family of Scotland. Never a clan or a sept, most took the name relatively recently. The Dutch Douw have no connection to the English origin Dow name. The original English Dow was indeed Dowe, but Henry Dow, the first emigrant to America of name Dow, alternated his own name as Dow and Dowe frequently, sometimes within one letter. There was never, and is no coat of arms to my family name Dow, and most of us never feel a need to make pretense to such.

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