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Owen Family History
This is a patronymic surname derived from the Welsh personal name, Owen. The forms Owen and Owens are both very popular in Wales. The Bowen and Bowens surnames are related very closely as they mean 'son of Owen', having derived from the Welsh phrases 'ab Owen' and 'ap Owen' which were both later contracted to Bowen.
Another spelling variation is Owain. 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 name 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 the western side and the north west of the country in particular, fixed surnames were not generally used until the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 'Owen' would therefore refer to a specific ancestor who lived during that time. As a surname, Owen and Owens are the most popular versions seen in north Wales, and are very common surnames there, while Bowen or Bowens are more often seen in the south of the country than in the north.
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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