Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,732 members have registered
2,390 study surnames with us
and a further 6,077 variant names.

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About the study

If you are interested in family history and your name is BOWHAY or BOWEY (or you are descended from a family with either name) I shall be delighted to hear from you and will be pleased to share what I know about your ancestry.


The BOWHAY One-Name Study grew from my attempts to trace the parentage of my g.g.g.grandfather Thomas BOWHAY (c1812-1888). He was a tin miner who lived in Calstock, Cornwall. Unfortunately the enigma of his parentage remains, but my collection of BOWHAY and variant data (from England and overseas) has grown greatly. The One-Name Study has resulted in a comprehensive database of births, christenings, marriages, deaths and burials, wills and census information from 1841 to 1911.

The photograph is of William James Blake Bowhay of Tavistock who died 13 April 1918 in the First World War.

Variant names

Variants of the surname are BOWHEY, BOWEY, BAWHAY, BAWHEY, BEWHAY and BEWHEY.

Name origin

The uncommon surname BOWHAY probably derives from a place named Bourehays in Devon, England, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. This probably became Bowhay Manor in the parish of Exminster. Bowhay Farm continues there, although the old manor house can no longer be seen as the farmhouse has been rebuilt.

Distribution of the name

From the 1500s BOWHAYs and variants are found in parish registers in Devon (Blackawton, Braunton, Crediton, Georgeham, Stoke Gabriel, Totnes) and Cornwall (St Dominick, Stoke Climsland). From the 1700s there has been spread throughout England (predominantly the south), but the main concentration remains in Devon and Cornwall.


Regarding the BOWEY surname, these can be divided into two separate groups. Approximately half (probably deriving from the BOWHAY name) are mainly in the south of England. The other half are mainly in Northumberland and Durham, and may derive from a northern stem, perhaps BOWIE, as no connection with the Devon and Cornwall BOWHAY and BOWEY stems has been found.


My One-Name Study has resulted in a very comprehensive database of births, christenings, marriages, deaths and burials of English BOWHAYs and variants, as well as much information on American, Canadian and Australian families. I am happy to provide information.