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Bowen Family History
This is a patronymic surname derived mainly from the Welsh personal name, Owen. Both the 'Bowen' and 'Bowens' forms mean 'son of Owen', having derived from the Welsh phrases 'ab Owen' and 'ap Owen' which were both later contracted to Bowen.
The origins of the name could lie in the Welsh word for lamb – 'oen', or it may have originally derived from the Latin 'eugenius', meaning 'well-born'. Other theories relating to the name's origins include that it derives from the Old Welsh word 'og' meaning 'young' or 'youth', a root element which is the equivalent of the Old Irish óc from which the name Eógan (the Irish for Owen) is derived.
The personal name Owen is very prominent in Welsh legends and history, it being the name of several leaders, including Owain Gwynedd who ruled the ancient kingdom of Gwynedd between 1137 until his death in 1170, and Owen/Owain Glyndwr, one of the most famous of Welsh leaders, a descendant of the Princes of Powys who led a war of independence against the English in the early 15th century.
Fixed, hereditary surnames only started to be used in Wales between the 16th and 19th centuries. In this context therefore, the surname Bowen/Bowens would refer back to an ancestor named Owen who lived during that period in history. The Bowen/Bowens form is more commonly seen in south Wales than in the north where the Owen/Owens version is more evident.
In Ireland, the Bowen surname can be of Irish origin, being an anglicised form of the Gaelic O'Buadhachain, the prefix 'O, meaning grandson or descendant of, and 'Buadhach, a personal name meaning victorious; hence, 'descendant of Buadhach'.
An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names (1857) by William Arthur
Patronymica Britannica (1860) by Mark Antony Lower
Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison
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