This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources. It can either be topographical, describing a "dweller by the top of a hill", from the Olde English pre 7th Century phrase, "bufan dune", meaning "above the hill"; or it may be locational from any of the places called Bowden or Bowdon. Bowden in Devonshire and Derbyshire, and Bowdon in Cheshire are composed of the Olde English elements "boga", arched or rounded, and "dun", hill; hence, an "arched or rounded hill"; while Bowden in Leicestershire, recorded as "Bugedone" in the Domesday Book of 1086, comes from the Olde English female personal name "Burcge" (masculine "Buga"), and "dun"; hence, "Burcge's hill". There are places of the name in Scotland, from the Gaelic "both an duin", translating as "house on the hill", but the name is not widespread here. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Bowden, Bawden, Bowdon and Bawdon. The surname was first recorded in the beginning of the 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Richard de Bouldone, Parson of the parish of Edilstone, who rendered homage in 1296, according to the Documents Relating to Scotland; John de Boghedon, who appeared in the Place Names of Devonshire in 1333; and William de Bolden, who was Abbot of Kelso in 1370, as recorded in the Monastic Annals of Teviotdale. John Bowden, aged 24 yrs., was an early American settler in Virginia in July 1635, having arrived there on the "Paule" of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Boulden, which was dated circa 1200, in the "Liber S. Marie de Calchou: Registrum Kelso 1113 - 1567", Scotland, during the reign of King William known as "The Lion" of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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