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About the study
My interest in the Clowes surname in general comes from a close family line, but the idea of conducting a one-name study was born when I attempted to document the "common knowledge" with regard to past research on my line. Because my own Clowes line came from England to America prior to 1700, removed to Canada following the Revolutionary War, and eventually returned to America in the mid 1800s, I will begin with those locations and add others as the study progresses.
The only registered variant is Clows. This may change as the study progresses.
The Clowes surname is believed to have first appeared in the early medieval period, likely in Cheshire and may have been used to describe a family that lived in or near a hollow or clough.
Historical occurrences of the name
A few of the notable persons bearing the Clowes surname:
- John Clowes (1743-1831), English Anglican cleric and Swedenborgian
- Samuel Clowes (1821–1898), English Conservative politician, MP for North Leicestershire 1868–1880
- Samuel Clowes (1864–1928), English Labour politician, MP for Hanley 1924–1928
- Thomas Clowes (1791-1866), NY politician
- William Clowes (1780–1851), one of the founders of Primitive Methodism
- William Clowes (1779-1847), printer who established William Clowes Ltd.
- William Laird Clowes (1856–1905), British journalist and historian
- William Clowes ( (1540-1604), English surgeon and author
Having originated in England, the Clowes surname is has remained most numerous there. Between 1841 and 1911, there was a fairly steady increase in the number of Clowes individuals in the England and Wales census, while the number of those listed as Clows declined. For the United States and Canada, the trend was similar although on a much smaller scale. The number of Clows listed in all three countries appears to decline or stay roughly the same.
Clowes England & Wales U.S. Canada
1851: 968 86 19
1871: 1290 174 25
1881: 1642 190 44
1901: 2316 284 36
1911: 2654 391 57
Clows England & Wales U.S. Canada
1851: 61 50 13
1871: 53 53 22
1881: 63 27 13
1901: 22 53 41
1911: 20 43 24
In 2002, it was estimated that there were 3486 Clowes individuals living in England, with no data for Clows. Overall, the study looks to be quite small.
Distribution of the name
Based on the 1881 census for England and Wales, the most populous counties were:
- Staffordhire (478)
- Cheshire (253)
- Lancashire (251)
Staffordshire was also the densest county with the name appearing roughly once for every 2000 people. With the exception of Warwickshire (106), all other counties had few than 100.
All Clowes and Clows births, marriages and deaths from the GRO have been entered by Margaret Southgate well into the 1950s and perhaps later. I thank her for making those available. More datasets will be added as time allows.
Data currently available may be found here: Clowes Archive
A Clowes One-Name Study website will be added in the near future with the goal of reconstructing family trees. A number of trees have been started, again by Margaret Southgate.