This unusual and interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and has an uncertain etymology. It is most likely to be a dialectal variant of the locational name Bovey, as in Bovey Tracey, and North Bovey, on the river Bovey in Devonshire. The river-name is known to be of Ancient British (pre-Roman) origin, but its etymology has become obscured. The placename is recorded as "Bovi" in the Domesday Book of 1086 and the river name as "Boui" in 1238. Povey may also be a topographical name for residence by the river Bovey. A further, but as yet unproven explanation of the surname states that it derives from the Latin "bubo", the horned owl as a nickname or a topographical name from residence at the Sign of the Owl. Povey and Povah are fairly numerous as surnames in the Welsh Border Counties. Early recordings include Edward Povey of Shocklach who appears in the Wills of Chester in 1595. London Church Records list the marriage of John Povy to Alys Hyarde on May 25th 1550, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, and the marriage of James Povey to Anne Moyle on the 6th June 1624, at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington. One Richard Povey, an emigrant to the New World, was appointed secretary of and for Jamaica for life on the 10th January 1606. A Coat of Arms granted to a Povey family is black, a silver bend engrailed between six gold cinque foils. The Crest is a black buglehorn, gold viroled, red stringed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of David Povey, which was dated 1593, in the "Shocklach Wills of Chester", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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