This is a very interesting and extremely rare surname. It would seem to originate from a group particularly found in the USA, which can be described as ''literal spellings''. In other words to look at they have no obvious origin or meaning, nor is modern pronunciation any assistance. It is necessary to look back possibly three centuries or more to where, and when they might have originated, how they might have been pronounced, and hence spelt. In this case the name is partly confused by several ''facts''.The first is that Bowfin is a name for a fish species, secondly that it is the name of a Second World War submarine (!), and thirdly that it is (very rare) Scottish vernacular for a smelly, slimy, thing! We think we can say that the third pays no part in the origin, neither does the second, although presumably the second was named from the first. The first may be Louisiana-Cajun, a dialect-language which is mainly of French origin, Louisiana being French territory until bought by the USA in 1812. If so it is possible that Bowfin may have originally been Beuv(a)in, an old French surname from the Midi district meaning ''good wine,'' and a nickname medieval job description for a good wine maker. Another perhaps remote possibility is Beaufils. This is a popular French surname found throughout the country meaning ''good son.'' There are over one hundred French surnames which commence ''Be(a)u'' but from our records only the two quoted above sound and spell convincingly near to ''Bowfin''. However one must bear in mind that a surname that crossed the Atlantic as French, - was then intermixed with English and Cajun, as well as the semi native Louisiana dialects - and at a time when education was at best erratic, with only one in ten people before 1840 being able to read or write, - leaves research in the realms of the (im)plausible. Finally to confuse the matter there is a record of a family called Lloyd of the county of Somerset, England, between 1800 and 1900. The records have the add-on that ''one of the wives may have had the maiden name of Bowfin'' - with no other comment. If so a search of the registers of the West of England, and that of the city of London, has not produced any examples of Bowfin.
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