English Origins Summary

Coat of Arms

Some English Bowes families were granted coats of arms. This is covered in the section on Durham Bowes. Technically arms can only be displayed by those whom were granted them, but many, who may or may not be related to a line that was formally granted arms, enjoy casual use of them in spite of the formal rules in place.

A common but misguided explanation of the origin of English Bowes is now known in this study as the Legend of William de Arcubus, and can safely be put to rest.

Apart from that, research continues—using documentary records, surname mapping and DNA—to identify the true origin(s) of the name. It's possible if not probable that not all English Bowes share the same surname origin. 

We find the name in England since ancient times. While current theories are nothing more than hearsay due to a lack, so far, of relevant primary sources and exhaustive comparative analysis, some day one or more may be found to be correct:

  • Bowes as a locative/toponymic surname arising from the village or parish of Bowes

  • Bowes as a locative/topographical surname arising from Scandinavian settlers

  • Bowes as a locative/toponymic surname from Boves, Normandy, or Bures, Normandy

  • Bowes as an occupational surname arising from archery (not supported)

  • Something yet to be identified

The lefthand links under "English Origins" begin with a geographic summary of English Bowes and Bowe, followed by discussions of possible name origins (not yet complete). After that the notable, aristocrat Bowes family, known especially for marrying into the Lyon family and becoming ancestral to the Queen Mother, gets its own section. Finally, we look at the frequently asked question: Am I related to the Queen Mother?

Copyright Martha H. Bowes 2007-Present