This rare and picturesque surname is of medieval English origin and is a dialectal variant of a locational name Dowbiggin, from a hamlet in the parish of Sedbergh in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The first element, 'dow', is derived from either the Old Welsh 'dou', meaning two, or an Old English pre 7th Century personal name 'Duve', and the second element 'biggin' from the Old Scandinavian 'byggia', with the Middle English development 'biggin', meaning house or building, thus either, 'Duve's house' or 'two houses'. Dowbakin appears to be a later variant, not present in Yorkshire records, but a 19th Century recording is among Lancashire records, for example, one Ellen Dowbakin was christened on September 24th 1843 at St. Michael's, Ashton-under-Lyne. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes Dowfbyggyng, which was dated 1379, Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11, 'Richard of Bordeaux', 1377-1399. 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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