This interesting and most unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a rare variant of Bow, itself a topographical name given to a dweller near a bridge, or a locational name from any of the various places called Bow in Devonshire and Middlesex. Both of these explanations have the same derivation, that is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "boga", a bow, arch, bridge. However, in some instances, Bow may be a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of bows, from the Middle English "bow". Before the invention of gunpowder, the bow was an important long-range weapon for shooting game as well as in warfare. The surname is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), while other early examples include Richard atte Bowe in London (1306), and Nicholas atte Boghe in Somerset (1327). Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Elisha, daughter of Joseph and Sophia Boowe, which took place on August 22nd 1682, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, and the marriage of Judith Boow and Joseph Scott on May 13th 1753, at St. George's, Mayfair, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry atte Bowe, which was dated 1298, in the "Placename Book of Devonshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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