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ROWE Family History


This ancient surname recorded as Rowe and Row, is English. It has at least three possible origins. The first is topographical, and as such it may have described a person who who lived either by a hedgerow, or possibly a row of houses. Eitherway it derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word "raw" meaning row. Secondly, and more likely we think, it may derive from either the medieval given name Rou or Roul, both from the ancient Germanic personal name Rolf, or from a short form of the given name Rowland, a Germanic or Frankish personal name of the time of Charlamagne the Great in the 8th century a.d.


Rowe (Variants: Rowes)

A Norman English relationship name from the Anglo-Normal French personal name Rolf, ultimately meaning ‘son of Ralph’.

From Middle English row (from Old English raw). From the medieval personal name Row, a variant of Rou(l) (Rollo, Rolf) or a short form of Rowland. Rowe, Rue, from Old French, meaning a street. A dweller at the rough or uncultivated land.

Irish from Ó Ruaidh (Roe). Roe, also in Gaelic, red—haired. From the Irish ruadh, red. Gaelic, rhu, in Scottish, row, signifies a low, small, narrow peninsula. Also signifying a local river that overflows its banks.

Mr. Richard Rowe (b. 1808), a Cornish settler convicted at aged 21 in Cornwall on 25 March 1828, sentenced for life for housebreaking. He was transported aboard the ship "York" on 30th April 1829 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia.

Thomas Rowe (1829 – 1899), was a British architect who became one of Australia’s leading architects. Rowe was also the founder, and for many years president, of the New South Wales Institute of Architects, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1884.

In 1891, the surname was recorded in England and Wales with 17,282 occurrences and a fewer 13 in Scotland.

In 1881, the surname was prevalent in Lancashire, as well as Devon and Cornwall. There were 3,748 occurrences of the surname recorded in Cornwall. In Devon, there were 1,969 occurrences and the district of Plymouth had 379 occurrences.

In 1881, Farmer, Agricultural Labourer and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Rowe. The most common Rowe occupation in the UK was Farmer. A less common occupation was Carpenter.

The noted Albert Percival "A.P." Rowe (1898-1976), was a British physicist born in Cornwall, who had a major role in the development of Radar, before and during World War II.

Another, Nicholas Rowe (b.1966), a British actor best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes in the film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He also appeared in the 2015 mystery film Mr. Holmes.

1881, 1891 Census

1881 Census in Cornwall

1881 Census in Devon

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain


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