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2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

Welcome to everyone interested in the surnames BILBOW and BILBO (and variants Bilboa and possibly Bilboe).

The name is relatively unusual, which can make it hard to research. On a more optimistic note, the name is so unusual that where it is found, there is likely to be a connection to our on-going world-wide research and analysis.

We have been researching globally the surname Bilbow, Bylbowe and variant Bilboa since 1998 and more recently for the UK, Bilbo and Bilboe. If you are new to family history or have been researching for a while, we seek to support you with guidance, share records and family tales, or maybe just give moral support.

If you're interested in knowing more about the BILBOW, BILBO, Bilboa and Bilboe genealogy, or could assist us with any information please contact Kevin at:

There is also our website for the Study at where you can register to see Study trees and Branches, location mapping, etc.

We also like letters and phone calls, for these details please make initial contact using the e-mail above and we will provide contact details directly.

Who are we? We are several descendants of the Bilbow / Bilbo / Bilboa / Bilboe lines who have undertaken research into our family history and are sharing that research and pooling resources to help each other and other interested family historians.  To enable those just starting their research the joy of gradually discovering their ancestry, we have chosen not to publish our trees on this site. Our trees are freely available for those that would like to be added to them. For those in the early stages of research we encourage you to make contact so we can advise cost effective ways of undertaking your family history research and avoid duplicating the purchase of certificates and other resources.

Hope you enjoy reading some of the information below.

Variant names

During 1600's and 1700's there are records for Bilbow, Bilbo and Bilboe. Analysis has shown that the same families have their baptism/marriage and death records recorded under all of these spellings plus others such as Billbow and Billboe. Records for Yorkshire in mid 1500's also show Bylbowe and Belbowe. As the picture becomes clearer we may find that all these families connect or there are several differing lines of origin. Our current hypothesis is: BYLBOWE Yorkshire 1500 became BILBOWE York 1580, then BILBOW London 1620 after which often recorded under other spellings, particularly Bilbo and Bilboe. Possibly BILLBOW Norwich 1680 but we do not know from where they came or of any living descendants. Alongside the Bilbow records in London are those for Bilbo/o, with a clear branch for BILBO emerging with Benjamin Belbow and Mary Scarbrough  married in Shoreditch 1789 whose children were christened in Hamstead as Bilboo and their descendants as Bilbo. We keep an open mind as to if Bilbow and Bilbo are variants of each other and which came first.

We have gathered and analysed the Bilbow records from the USA, finding that most have origins back in Ireland. We are seeking assistance to piece together the Bilbow family records in North Mayo Ireland (Ferrew, Garrynagran, Ballymachola). These records extend back to 1800 but where did the family come from?

We have some records of Bilboa for the USA, but have yet to undertake any analysis and hence do not yet know if/how Bilboa in the USA fits with the rest of the one-name study. There are records for Bilbo and Bilboe around the world, if you are interested in researching with us please get in touch.

One proven variant of Bilbow in the UK is Bilboa. The BILBOA branch in the UK appears around 1870 as Robert Bilbow and his 1st son stay with the spelling Bilbow, while his wife Martha and all their other children start using the variant Bilboa.

It is looking increasingly likely that in the UK Bilboe is a variant of Bilbo/w. The spelling BILBOE occurs occasionaly in the medival records. William Bilboo and Margret Mills of Crayford Kent are married in 1754 and by 1768 they are living in Shorne Kent after which the family consistently use the surname Bilboe.

Name origin

With the assistance of distant cousins, we now have many of current bearers of the name in England, Canada, Australia and USA connected into various branches. Nearly all the BILBOWs and BILBOAs in the UK, Australia and Canada (about 300) descend from one branch starting with Thomas BILBOW, born in Middlesex about 1797. Thomas was a shoemaker, some of his descendants were builders.The origin of this branch is at this time unclear. Ongoing research aims to see if there is any connection between Thomas Bilbow and the Bilbows of Norwich and/or York, dating back to 1560.

With the help fellow family history enthusiasts, we have gathered over 500 records for Bilbow in the USA. Our analysis has placed over 750 individuals into 250 families most of which can trace their roots back through Philadelphia or New York to a few families in Ireland. It is possible that as research progresses the branches may merge, but at this stage we simply do not know. If you are reading this and have some knowledge of Bilbow family history in the USA or Ireland, please get in touch at:


More to follow on suggested origins by name, place or trade. Do you know the history behind any of these locations or their link to Bilbow or Bilboa families?


Bilboe Road in Bilston, Bradley, WV14 8EE. Named after Benjamin Bilboe of Bilston (1900-1951) - see more below.


The District Electoral Division of Bilboa in County Limerick.

A bridge in Ferrew townland in Moygownagh crosses the Owenmore river, which becomes the Clooghamore river flowing into Killala Bay and is locally known as Bilbow's bridge, apparently because it was made from stone from the old Bilbow's farmhouse?


The Dumfries 'Triangle'. If there are any Bilbow family records for this area we have yet to find them, but within a 30 mile triangle there are 3 places with name Bilbow. With a record dated 1607 for a James Payne of Bilbo in Troquier, this may be one of the earlist references we have found to Bilbo in the UK.

Bilbow Bridge crossing the Mill Burn in Crossmichael Parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. Apparently the bridge is still there and is likely to have gained the name from the nearby but uninhabited/demolished dwelling called Bilbow?

1819 we have land valuations in Arundale and Welldale as 'part of Bilbow'. Looking at 1895 map of Dumfries, we find these lands west of the river Nith on the fringes of Maxwelltown. There is also reference to Bilbow once being on land now occupied with a villa called Ashbank, could this be Bank House on Rotchell Park? Noltmarket and Gallohill are mentioned as 'part of Bilbow', it would be helpful to understand where they fit on the map.

The 1851 census details Bilbow as an address in Penpont, Dumfrieshire. Households at the addresses are Kirkpatrick, Hewston, Brown, Walker and Lorimer?

Bilbow listed in the 1841 and 1851 census of Papa Westray, Orkney, occupied by Drever family?


USA, Edwardsville: There is a Bilbow Lane in Edwardsville, does anyone know if this has a family connection or how the lane got its name?

USA, Memphis: 1859 Thomas Bilbow with hardware and jewellery on Front Street, later J F & Bro, dry goods at 368 Front Street?

2015 sees us commence initiate the DNA element of the Bilbow one-name study, with your assistance it will help clarify the branches and their origins.

Historical occurrences of the name

Bilbow Who's Who. There are a few Bilbows who are or were in the public eye:


Andrea Bilbow OBE. Founder and CEO at ADDISS (Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service) the National ADHD Charity.  Congratulations as she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of over 20 years working to educate, inform and support those interested in, and impacted by ADHD. The honour was announced in the Queen’s birthday honours list on 15th June 2013.

(An)Tony & Margorie Bilbow. Tony, born in Buckinghamshire is known through his works as a television presenter and screenwriter. Notable people from the film world he interviewed include David Niven and Alfred Hitchcock, see more on Wikipedia. You can also read some adventures of Worthington Bilbow, a fictitious? family dog, stories were regularly broadcast on the BBC and published by Tony and his sister Marjorie in 1959. We found their book a most enjoyable read.

Benjamin Bilboe of Bilston (1900-1951), leading local figure of the Unemployed Workers Movement, Mayor for Bilston 1947. Born into an Ironbridge family that travelled the fairs, Ben Bilboe settled in Bilston and became a leader of the Unemployed Workers Movement of the 1930s. He objected to the payment of poverty wages that were well below the trade union rates. These workings became known as ‘Poverty Bonk’. In 1933 he gave an inflammatory speech outside the police station in Mount Pleasant and was arrested, spending polling day in the police cells, from where he was duly elected to the New Town ward. Bilboe proved a militant councillor urging better housing and social services as well as championing the cause of rural workers. During the war Ben joined the forces, but was invalided out to become the Civil Defence Officer at Bridgnorth. After the war he returned to Bilston where he became mayor in 1947 and an alderman of both Bilston UDC and Staffordshire County Council. He remained totally committed to the poor and considered his Council work a full-time job and scraped a subsistence where he could. In 1951 he died suddenly at the age of 49 and his funeral was well attended, such was the respect he had achieved in the town. Bilboe Road in Bradley was named after the firebrand socialist. reproduced in part by kind permission of Wolves Beat


Bilboa Fredrick Poster £50 Reward


Professor Frederick Bilboa of London and Lincoln (1867-1931), born Bilbow in Kentish town, entertained the public and royalty with his magic tricks.

Robert Bilbow (Bilbowe/Bylbow) Tailor from Tadcaster becoming Freeman Tailor and Innholder in York 1542 and his son John Bilbow/e (dth1606) Innholder and Freeman of York per patres 1578.

We think there may be more, please let us know so we can celebrate their achievements.

Name frequency

The most useful figures we can state in describing how people with the Bilbow surname are spread around the world are the total numbers of Bilbow individuals in each area where they are found and the frequency of those individuals relative to the total population of the area.

The frequency of a surname in a particular area is calculated by dividing the number of people bearing that name in that area by the total population in the same area at the same time. This is normally presented either as a percentage or as a number per million of the total population.

Official census data are the most accurate figures available for the calculation of surname frequencies. While there are some systematic errors in the figures, they are minimal compared to other sources and barely affect the use of Census data for our purposes. Other organisations have used electoral registers and telephone directories to estimate numbers of people with each surname. Inaccuracies arise because these sources do not reflect total populations. Children are not shown in either type of source, and many people elect not to have their names published in either the publicly available electoral registers or in telephone directories. Sometimes directories only list the male or head of household. Nevertheless some research organisations claim to have developed methods of making accurate corrections for these errors.

We recommend you view the Family Search overview of Surname Distribution Maps to see the ever developing range of data available.

If you have not yet seen the Surname and Meaning & Statistics at the Forebears website then please give it a view. With distribution maps, Incidence and Frequency figures for 2014 covering our known connections in the USA, England and Australia, it also captures the 1880 US Census, 1881 England Census and the 1901 Ireland Census.


You could also view the Public Profiler worldnames site to see their extensive synergy of names and location data derived from publicly available telephone directories or national electoral registers, sourced for the period 2000-2005. The data is shown on a world map and offers ‘Frequency per million’ in top countries, regions and cities:

Top Countries


Top Regions


Top Cities



Ireland, West





UK, South East


Chelmsford, Harlow, London E1 and E18, Edgware, Oxford, Southend,

UK, Yorkshire & Humber



UK, East Anglia





USA, Pennsylvania


Philadelphia and Pittston

USA, New Jersey



USA, Oklahoma



USA, Virginia



USA, Iowa



USA, Florida



Please remember this is not the complete picture, but from our analysis of records collected for the Bilbow One-name study, both these sites give a good representation of the current frequency and distribution of the Bilbow name.

Surname frequency information is also normally available at British Surnames (1998) and American Surnames websites and tables at the US Census Bureau of Frequently Occurring Surnames from US Census 1990 and 2000, but unfortunately the occurrences of Bilbow/a is so low that the name/s are not listed.

Distribution of the name

The most commonly used UK census for surname distribution in the UK is that of 1881 because it was the first from which data was indexed (by a joint project of the Federation of Family History Societies and the Chuch of Latter Day Saints). Most useful was the aggregation of 1881 Census data in Stephen Archer's Surname Atlas, produced as a CD which enabled surname frequencies and distribution maps of any specified surname to be obtained. To see a map of the distribution analysis undertaken for England in 1881 please go to public profiler gb names website select 1881 and enter Bilbow (as mentioned earlier, the frequency on the electoral role for 1998 is less than 100 so no map is available).

We have undertaken further analysis of the England 1881 Census data wherever possible viewing original records and recorded Bilbow Surname distribution based upon place of birth detailed in England 1881 census (As we have confirmed the variant Bilboa in England into Bilbow, that element of the variant is included):






















From a similar era, records from the 10th Census of the United States in 1880 detail Bilbow showing birthplaces as:


















We can trace the linage of over 65% of the Bilbows in the USA back to Ireland. We have yet to undertake analysis of the Bilboa name in the USA.

The surname Bilbow is also present in Ireland, with 23 birth records around a similar period focused around Mayo. Many of the US Bilbows can trace their linage back to these families. The Ireland 1901 and 1911 Census capture the bearers of the Bilbow name in Ireland:




Forrew, Kilfian, Mayo



Ballymackeehoa. Rathoma, Mayo






There also remains the feasibility of Bilbo and Bilboe having a connection, but our research to date shows no significant connection with these names. There are also bearers of the surname Bilboa which may be traceable back to Bilbao in Spain, but as yet we have yet to find such a link. Our DNA research will help to inform us of the likelihood of such links.


As well as holding nearly all the public records for Bilbow and Bilboa in England, Australia and Canada dating back to 1560, we are also gathering an extensive set of records for Bilboe and Bilbo in UK and Bilbow in the USA and Ireland. Can you help with this? Details of/from original documents held by families are particularly useful.


We are excited to announce that the Bilbow DNA Project has been established at Family Tree DNA, and it is ready for participants to join and order a test kit.

We have ordered the test kits to represent our branch of the family tree. Ideally, our goal is to have two distant direct line males test for each major branch of the family tree.

The Y DNA test tells you about your direct male line, which would be your father, his father, and back in time. You must be male to take this test, and you should have one of the surnames shown. If you believe there is a Bilbow or variant in your direct male line, although you have a different surname, you are also welcome to participate. If you are female, please find a direct line male to participate, to represent your tree.

We encourage males to order a Y DNA test for 37 markers, if possible. If you order fewer markers, you can upgrade later, though this costs a little more.

As our project grows, we will have many exciting discoveries.

Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your research of your family tree. We will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information about the origin and evolution of the surnames.

The goals of the project are:
* Discover information to help with our family history research
* Discover which family trees are related
* Discover information to help with brick walls
* Confirm surname variants
* Validate family history research
* Get on file a DNA sample for trees at risk of extinction of the male line
* Discover information about our distant origins

The test is a harmless genealogy test of locations on the Y chromosome, called markers, which are passed from father to son, typically unchanged. The test result is a string of numbers, and contains no personal information. You will be an exact or close match to those men to whom you are related. By also testing a distant direct line male in your family tree, if possible, you will validate the family tree research to the common ancestor shared by both men who test. In addition, the test result will tell you about your distant origins.

We have also established a General Fund, to accept donations in any currency via credit card. These funds will be held at the testing company, and used to help sponsor test kits for key males who are unable financially to participate. We encourage you to make a donation. Click on the link below to visit the project web site, and then click "Contribute to the Project General Fund" on the left to make a donation. If you decide to donate, please specify "Bilbow Project General Fund" in the top box of the Donation form.

Both males and females may also be interested in learning about their direct female line, which would be their mother, their mother's mother, and back in time. You would order a mtDNA test. For matches in a genealogical time frame, order the mtDNA Plus test.

We encourage you to join us in our discoveries. Use the link below to order your test kit TODAY!

Kevin Merrison