This most interesting surname has a number of possible origins, all of Anglo-Saxon derivation. The first of these is topographical from residence in a small cottage, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "bur", bower, cottage, inner room. Natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages, and consequently gave rise to several surnames. The addition of "er" to topographical terms was particularly widespread in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Essex at the beginning of the 14th Century, the "er", in this case, meaning "dweller at". The name may also be occupational for a house servant, deriving from the same source. Bower can also be locational from any of the various places thus called in Somerset and Essex, which appear variously as "Bur, Bure" and "Bura" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Early examples of the surname from the above sources include: Matthew de Labur (Surrey, 1194), Mayfflin Attebur (Somerset, 1280), and Robert le Bower (Staffordshire, 1332). Finally, the surname may be occupational, and a variant of Bowyer, a maker of, or trader in bows, derived from the Olde English "boga", Middle English "bow", a bow, with the addition of the agent suffix "er" (one who does or works with). Walter Bower or Bowmaker (died 1449) was abbot of Inchcolm, and a commissioner to collect the ransom money of James 1 (of Scotland) in 1423. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teodricus Bouer, which was dated 1187, in the "Pipe Rolls of Herefordshire", during the reign of Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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