There are three possible sources of this interesting name, the first being that it is a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of bows, a vital trade in medieval times before the invention of gunpowder, and a derivative of the Old English pre 7th Century 'boga', bow, from 'bugan' to bend. The surname may also be topographic for someone living near a bridge, the word 'boga' having acquired the sense 'arch', as in the supposed resemblance of the arch to a drawn bow. For example, Richard atte Bowe (1306 Calender of Letter Books in the City of London). Lastly, Bowe, being chiefly the Irish variant, is the anglicized form of the Gaelic 'O' Buadhaigh', a descendant of 'Buadhach' a personal name meaning victorious. Amongst the recorded examples is one Elizabeth Bowe, who was christened on January 8th 1597 at St. Margaret, Lothbury, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry atte Bowe, which was dated 1298, Placenames of Devon, during the reign of King Edward I, 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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