This surname is of medieval origins, and is generally considered to be a nickname. It derives from either the Welsh "Daw", a pet name form of David, the Hebrew for "friend", or it derives from "dawe", the jackdaw. The latter popular version is typically Chaucerian and shows the wicked and robust Middle English sense of humour, the bird being renowned for its colourful display, rattish display and loud, raucous call, clearly the original nameholders were literally "Jack the lad(s)"! The name recordings include: Robert Dow, of Cumberland, in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls, and Lawrence Dow, of Somerset, a witness at the Assize Court held at Taunton in 1254. The famous John Doe of America history was a "Dow", a John Dow being recorded in Enfield, on January 1st 1589, although the first Dowe into America would seem to be Henrey Dowe, of Ormsby, Norfolk, on April 11th 1637. He was preceded in May 1635 by one Jo. Doe, who left England on the ship "Mathew of London" under warrant from the Earl of Carlisle and King Charles 1 (1625 - 1649). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Dowe, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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