Last name: Bowyer

This is an English occupational name for one who made or sold bows, an important and respected profession in medieval England. The bowyers and the fletchers (arrow smiths) always marched together in the trade processions. The poet John Skelton writes, in 'the Maner of the World', 'so many bowyers, so many fletchers, and so few good archers, saw I never'. The derivation of the name is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'boga', from 'bugan', to bend. Middle English 'bow' and thence 'bowyere'. In the modern idiom the name has three spellings, Bowyer, Boyer and Boayer. Church records include Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Bowyer, who was christened on August 15th 1540 in St. Mary Magdalenes, London, and Anne, daughter of Thomas Bowyer, who was christened on July 3rd 1548, in St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London. One Daniell Bowyer was one of the early settlers in America, leaving London on the 'George', in August 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailwardus le Bogiere, which was dated 1183, London Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, 'The Builder of Churches', 1154 - 1189. 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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