What's In A Name? Bowes Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page

What's In A Name? Bowes

Barwicker No. 119
September 2013

The first recorded spelling of Bowes as a name was in 1269 when Gerard de Bowes acted as a witness in the Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland, and the surname has long been common in the north of England.

The word 'Bowes' is derived from an Old English word for a bend in a river, and the surname Bowes is thought to have originated in the village of Bowes in County Durham. The name was spread by villagers who trudged the countryside in search of work, and were then identified by the name of their birthplace, e.g. Thomas of Bowes.

Barwick-in-Elmet was home to one such family when brothers John and WiIliam Bowes migrated from North Yorkshire via Roecliffe with John settling in Thorner and William came to live in Barwick. Both young men married local girls and worked as platelayers on the NE Railway. William's wife, Ann Bowes, operated the Railway Crossing Gates on Whinmoor in the 1880s and 1890s, and descendants of their family still live in Barwick and the surrounding area.

Another, unrelated Bowes family also had links to Barwick - Bill Bowes, the famous Yorkshire and England Cricketer is known to have visited his aunt who lived in The Boyle.

A couple by the name of John and Josephine Bowes founded what we now know as the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, Co. Durham. John was a wealthy businessman and Josephine was an actress and artist who shared his love of antiquities. They met in Paris and spent much of their married life collecting objects that interested them, leaving their legacy to the nation in John's ancestral home of Teesdale.

The late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, had ancestors by the name of Bowes. John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore, married Mary Eleanor Bowes, only daughter of George Bowes Esquire of Streatlam Castle in County Durham. The Bowes name formally entered the Lyon family as part of the marriage contract, and Lord Strathmore later added his own family name to it, resulting in the surname Bowes- Lyon.


Back to the top
Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page