Recorded in many spellings including Bowie, Buie, By, Bye, Buy, and Buye, this is a surname of Olde English pre 7th century origins. It is residential, and describes one who lived by a 'byge'. This was a prominent bend of a river, or perhaps a feature of the countryside such as a hill or rock outcrop, which may have appeared to be distorted in someway. It is unlikely to have referred to a bend in a road, although this is possible as in these early times original Roman roads from the 3rd century were still in use.In its spelling as 'By' the surname is the shortest in the British registers, and is one of a tiny group consisting of only two letters. Originally their were a number such as Ea and Ay, meaning one who was resident by a river, but most are now extinct. The late Professor Reaney considered that Bye may in some instances have been a personal name, and if so examples may be Thomas filius Bye of Cambridge in the Hundred Rolls of 1279, and John Bye also of Cambridge in 1327. All other examples of the surname at this period refer to a person who was either de, de la, ate, or 'in the' bye, a clear reference to a location. Jim Bowie, the inventor of the Bowie knife, died at the famous battle of the Alamo, Texas, in1845, whilst David Bowie is regarded as the richest British entertainer. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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