This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from the southern counties of Dorset, Somerset and Devonshire specifically. The derivation for the placename in Devon is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bupar dice", meaning "above the ditch", but there is a more general derivation for the other locations, i.e. the Olde English "boga", bow, and "dic", ditch, meaning "a bow shaped water channel". Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace.In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Bowditch and Bowdidge. The name Bowditch is well known in New England, where Nathaniel Bowditch (1773 - 1838), author of "The Practical Navigator" (1772) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. His family can be traced back to Thorncombe in Devon in the early 1500s. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Bowdyche, which was dated 1554, marriage to Joanna Savage, recorded in "Marriage Licences of London", during the reign of Queen Mary, known as "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 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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