This interesting name, generally found recorded in Northern England, is of early medieval English origin, and is locational from a place so called, formerly in North Yorkshire and now in county Durham. The placename is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) word "boges", which means "the arches of a bridge"; thus, "a dweller at the bridge with arches". 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 Bowes and Bows. The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below), and early recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of William Bowes at St. Peter's, Westcheap, in July 1541, and the christening of Cecily, daughter of Martin Bowes, at St. Mary's, Woolnoth, in July 1563. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gerard de Bowes, which was dated 1269, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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