This interesting and unusual surname is a variant of Bowie, which is of Irish and Scottish origin, and is a nickname for a person who had fair hair, or who was golden haired, derived from the Gaelic 'buidhe', yellow, fair-haired. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, and occupation. The surname development since 1481 (see below) includes: John Bowey (1489, Dumbarton), Andrew Bowye (1570, Scone), Richard Bowhey (1630, London) and Elizabeth Boway (1648, Carsfern). Among the recordings in London are the marriages of Elizabeth Bowhay and Henry Bellow on March 5th 1763 at St. Clement Danes, Westminster, and of Thomas Bowhay and Mary Ann Fullwood on March 22nd 1866 at Christchurch, Hoxton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Boye, which was dated 1481, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, during the reign of King Henry V1, 'The Founder of Eton', 1422 - 1485. 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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