This interesting surname is of Olde British (pre-Roman) origins, and is locational. It is Devonion and derives from residence by the river 'Bovey' or from one of the villages such as Bovey Tracey or North Bovey, which are situated on the river. The original meaning of the name is subject to conjecture, but may be simply 'the river'. It is recorded as 'Bovi' in the 1086 Domesday Book, and as 'Buvi' in the 1093 Land Charters of Devon, and as 'Boui' in 1238. It is the pronunciation as 'Buvey' which has passed down the ages, and which the 'locals' vehemently claim to be correct, although this is obviously open to some doubt.The Manor of 'Bovi' was held from about the year 1140 by the 'de Traci' family of Traci de Mer, near Bayeux, Lords of Barnstaple. Early recordings from the church registers include Tamsina Bovye, the daughter of Gregory Bovye christened at Buckfastleigh, on March 9th 1599, and Robertus Bovey, son of Roberti Bovey, also christened at Buckfastleigh in 1618. A most unusual recording rather far from home, is that of Widow Bovey, who in 1680 was registered at 'the Towne of St. Michaells, Barbadoes'. She apparently had 'one bought servant'. This was probably a white person, who had been transported for a felony. The coat of arms, granted in Bedford in 1712, has the blazon of a green field, charged with two bows bent palewise in fesse, and three arrows conjoined at base, one in pale and two in saltire, and a chief embattled, all black. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sysyle Bovye, which was dated August 20th 1555, married at Stoke Gabriel, Devon, during the reign of Queen Mary 1st, known as 'Bloody Mary', 1554 - 1558. 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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