Recorded in many forms including Scawn, Scawen, Scowen, Scown, and Scowerne, this is a Cornish and Olde English surname. It is probably topographical and if so it would have described a person who was resident by a plantation of elderberry trees, or it may have been occupational for a maker of elderberry wine. It has been suggested that the origination is the village of Boscawen in Cornwall, as the name in its various spellings has been recorded there since the 13th century, at the beginning of surnames.It is recorded in Burkes 'Armourial General' for the year 1844 that a family called Scawen had been resident at St Germans in Cornwall since the time of King Edward 1st (1272 - 1307). However in the 18th century this family, or the main branch of it, moved to Surrey, where the male line failed in 1801. Nethertheless in 1597 it is recorded that there was a grant of arms to Edward Scawen of Melenick, Cornwall, (see below). Examples of recordings taken from surviving church registers include those of Jane Skawne, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, in the city of London, on February 28th 1590, Sampson Scowerne, who married Elizabeth Hobs, (this may be a misspelling of both names) at Crantock in Cornwall, on July16th 1625, whilst Anne Scown, the daughter of John Scown was christened at Stratton, also in Cornwall, on February 4th 1762. The coat of arms has the blazon of a silver field, charged with a red chevron between three griffins heads erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Scawen. This was dated 1380, in the accounts of the duchy of Cornwall. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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