This interesting and long-established surname is of early medieval Scottish origin, and is an occupational name for a maker of bows, or weapons for shooting arrows. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "boga", bow, with the Middle English "make", from the Olde English verb "macian", to make, plus the agent suffix "-er"; in its original sense "a man who has to do with", the "-er" designates persons according to their profession or occupation. Job-descriptive surnames, such as this, originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. One John Bovmaker, noted in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, was bailie of Haddington in 1376. In 1396 he appears again as John Bouman, which seems to point to Bowmaker and Bowman being the same in meaning. Recordings of the latter are earlier and include: Adam Bogheman (Westmorland, 1223) and Thomas Bouman (Northumberland, 1279). One Johannes Bomaker was rector of the parish church of Moncabio, Lennox, in 1422, and in 1557, John Bowmakkare of Cardone gave sasine (legal possession) of half his lands to Margaret Menzies. On December 3rd 1620, Jeane, daughter of James Bowmaker and Magdalene Alie, was christened in Edinburgh parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gislinus Boumaker, which was dated 1343, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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