This interesting patronymic surname has a number of possible origins, all of Anglo-Saxon pre 8th century derivation. The first of these is topographical from residence in a small cottage, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "bur", meaning a cottage or 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 many surnames. The addition of "er" to topographical terms was particularly widespread in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Essex at the beginning of the 14th Century, and described a "dweller at the bower".However the name may also be occupational for a worker, and deriving from the same source. 'Bower' can also be locational, there being several places so called in Somerset and Essex, and recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Finally the name can also be job descriptive, and a variant of the Olde English 'Bowyer', one who made or perhaps used, the famous 'Long bow' which gave the British armies so much power in the medieval period. Early examples of the surname include Matthew de Labur in the rolls of the county of Surrey for the year 1194, Mayfflin Attebur in Somerset in 1280, and Robert le Bower of Staffordshire in the Hundred Rolls of 1332. Later recordings include the christening of Thomas, the son of Richard Bowers, on February 10th 1582, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London. 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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