Select Bowman Surname Genealogy

Bowman and Archer are English occupational names describing the same activity.Bowman has the older origins, from the Old English boga meaning “bow” and mann meaning “man,” and probably has more than one meaning.  This surname continued in the north of England and in Scotland.  Archer, derived from the Old French archier, was brought to England by the Normans.

It first appeared in the 12th century and was replacing Bowman in the south and the middle of the country by the 14th century.Bowman in America often came from the German Baumann or Bauman, meaning “small farmer.

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England.   The Bowman name appeared from an early time on the English side of the border with Scotland, but not on the Scottish side.

Adam Bogheman was in the Westmorland rolls of 1223 and Thomas Bouman in the Northumberland rolls of 1279. Bowman was in fact the name of a border clan in Northumberland under the Percys; while Bowmans date from the 16th century in what was then Westmorland and is now part of Cumbria.

Cumbria.  Early records at Askham near Ullswater during Elizabethan times show intermarriages between the Penruddock and the Bowman families in Cumbria (there was also a marriage in Wiltshire in 1620 between Stephen Bowman and Mary Penruddock).

One Askham line began with William and Margaret Bowman who were married there around 1570.  Later on:

  • Jane Bowman founded the local school in Askham in 1779 John and Mary Bowman departed Askham for Australia with their sons in 1829.  Some Bowmans also emigrated to America.
  • Joe Bowman held the position of huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds from 1879 to 1924.  He was a famous huntsman of his time, as well as having his  own well-known hunting song. Joe died in 1940. 
  • But Thomas  Bowman was still living in Ullswater beyond that

Elsewhere.  The Bowman name extended southward to Durham (where there are the most Bowmans today), Yorkshire, and Staffordshire.

Bowmans at Stanhope in Durham, according to churchyard records, date from the early 1700’s.  Thomas Bowman, a farmer who resided at Shepherds House in Stanhope, died in 1800.  Snaith Bowman, a lead miner, died in 1842.

Many Bowmans in Durham were in fact miners.  One Bowman family came from the mining community of Hetton-le-Hole.  Jim Bowman, who was born in Carlisle in 1898, spent his life working in Durham coal mines and rose to be Chairman of the British National Coal Board in 1957.

Bowman first appeared in the Staffordshire records at Alstonefield in 1544 when Robert and Helen Bowman were married there.  Henry Bowman and his wife Alice of Alstonefield were jailed at Leek in 1663 for being Quakers.

“Alice Bowman was sent to prison till the sessions and then committed to the house of correction, having with her a sucking child which fell sick and died there.”

Some of these Bowmans migrated to Cheshire where Eddowes Bowman was a tobacconist and grocer at Nantwich in the late 1700’s. The line from Eddowes’ son John Eddowes Bowman the elder led to four remarkable brothers:

  • Eddowes Bowman a polymath and religious dissenter
  • Henry Bowman an architect
  • Sir William Bowman a surgeon and medical researcher
  • and John Eddowes Bowman the younger a professor of chemistry.

Scotland.  Bowmans were to be found on the east coast of Scotland.  The name appeared in Aberdeen as early as 1330 and later extended down to Angus and Fife. 

Fife.  The Bowmans were the lairds of Logie, a rural parish in Fife, from the late 17th century onwards.  Walter Bowman, who flourished in the 1750’s, was an avid book collector.  On his death in 1782, he willed his extensive personal collection for the use of local gentlemen.

Archibald Bowman married Margaret Williamson in Dunfermline in 1755.  They had grandchildren who emigrated to America. John and David Bowman – who lost both their parents when they were boys – started out as coal miners in Fife and then emigrated in the early 1830’s, John to a farm in Montreal and David to the coal mines of Pennsylvania.

Two Bowman daughters – Jane and Helen – died in tragic pit accidents in Fife in 1834 and 1841.  David Bowman, born in 1833 and a coal miner at the age of eight, lived to be ninety-eight.   His son John emigrated to Western Australia in 1915.    

Glasgow.  There was a Bowman outpost in Glasgow.  John Bowman became a successful merchant in Glasgow in the late 1600’s. His son John was even more successful, living in some splendor on Virginia Street, and was Glasgow’s Provost in 1764.  This John’s son John emigrated to South Carolina in 1768.

Ireland.  Bowman was found in Ulster – primarily in county Down and Antrim – and usually had Scottish antecedents.

Some of the Bowmans in Down emigrated:

  • Robert Bowman brought his family to Albany in upstate New York in 1770 
  • while William Bowman crossed the Irish Sea to Scotland in the 1850’s and worked there as a farm servant.  He emigrated to New Zealand with his family sometime in the 1860’s.

Alexander Bowman was born at Dromora in county Down in 1854.  He became a pioneer of the trade union movement in Belfast in the early 1900’s.

.  Bowman arrivals in America could have come from England, Scotland, or Ireland, or also from Germany, Switzerland or possibly Holland. 

New England.  Nathaniel Bowman from Staffordshire arrived with Winthrop’s fleet in 1630 and in 1649 made his home in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Many of his descendants stayed there.  In April 1775, at the onset of Revolutionary War, Thaddeus Bowman was the first scout to bring the news to Lexington that the British were coming.

Thaddeus had six sons, all of whom fought in the Revolutionary War, Captain Samuel afterwards moving to Pennsylvania.  But many Bowmans remained in Lexington, the last of them passing away there in 1933.

Virginia.  The earliest arrival here was Robert Bowman, first recorded in Henrico county in 1667.

“It was a family tradition that the earliest ancestor was a ship carpenter who came with the first colonists to Jamestown from London, but this has neither been authenticated or disproved.”

Robert’s origins are unknown.  His descendants settled in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and elsewhere.  Their line was covered in Iva Bowman Manley’s 1984 book Origins of the Bowmans of Carroll County,

Pennsylvania.  Bowmans here have been Germanic in origin.  Their
Bauman name would become Bowman either at the entry port or later.  Among the early Baumans/Bowmans who entered via Philadelphia were the five shown below.

Wendel Bauman from Switzerland left Rotterdam for Philadelphia in 1709 and made his home at Puquea Creek in what became Lancaster county:

  • from his son Jacob came three brothers – Jacob, John and Christian – who settled in Berks county.   
  • from his son Christian came the Mennonite ministers Joseph and his son Jonathan.  Jonathan Bowman left Pennsylvania for Canada in 1816 to preach to the Mennonite community in Waterloo county.

Hans Dieter Bauman arrived in Philadelphia from the German Palatinate with other of his Bauman relatives in 1727.  He settled in Marlboro township in Philadelphia county where he erected a mill on Perkiomen Creek.  He later moved to what was then frontier territory in Northampton county where he built a log cabin.  His Bowman sons Bernhard and Heinrich both fought in the Revolutionary War.

George Bauman arrived from the German Palatinate in 1727.  He was one of the first in the early 1730’s to settle in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, he and his wife Mary Hite making their home on the banks of Cedar Creek:

  • their four sons – John, Joseph, Isaac and Abraham – were all excellent horsemen and became known as “the four Cedar Creek.”   They were among the early pioneers of Kentucky and were prominent officers in the Continental Army during
    the Revolutionary War.  
  • the family story was recounted in John Wayland’s 1943 book
    The Bowmans: A Pioneering Family.

Jacob Bauman came in 1737.  He settled first in Lebanon, Pennsylvania before moving onto Maryland and Virginia.  His son John Bowman returned to Pennsylvania in the 1790’s with his family and then, around 1804, was one of the first settlers in Montgomery county, Ohio.  His farm near Dayton was later taken on by his son Benjamin.

Simon Bowman meanwhile came around 1750 and married and settled down in Hagerstown, Maryland (where he built its first stone house).  His son Jacob moved to Brownsville in western Pennsylvania in 1788.  He was the founder of the Old Monongahela Bank of Brownsville in 1814 and was its president until 1843.

.  The Bowman brothers from Cedar Creek in Virginia arrived in Kentucky in the mid-1770’s and played a major part in its early settlement:

  • Colonel John Bowman was a military commander there and in 1781 presided as a justice of the peace in its first county court.  
  • his younger brother Abraham settled in what became Fayette county.  Abraham’s grandson John Bryan Bowman was instrumental in founding Kentucky University in 1858. 

Cornelius Bowman, also from Virginia, came to Kentucky with his family and the Moore family in 1795.  They settled at South Fork in Madison county.

Rumor has it that Cornelius was Black Dutch (i.e. mixed-race Dutch).  One source has him descended from the Dutchman Joris Jacobszen Bouwman who had come to New Netherlands in 1652.  His line then went from New York to New Jersey and onto Virginia which was where Cornelius, also known as Neal, was born in 1740.

 Jesse Bowman was born in Tennessee in 1785.  He moved from there to Illinois and then to Arkansas and in the 1830’s to Texas.   He perished at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.  His son Joseph who was with Sam Houston’s army at the time survived.  He and his family settled in the Houston area.

South Africa.  Thomas Bowman from Dundee in Scotland came as an assisted immigrant to South Africa in 1859, settling in Simon’s Town.  He was a stone mason and worked on the construction of the Roman Rock lighthouse off Simon’s Town.  He later ran his own construction company and built the Woodhead tunnel through Table Mountain in 1891.

His son John was a baker by trade.

“According to an old family story, John met the red-haired Isabella Gibson on a bus in Cape Town.  Apparently he was sitting behind her on the bus and undid her hair ribbon.”

They never married although Isabella had three children by him.  When John died in 1923 he left his entire estate to his estranged wife.

Australia.  There were three notable early Bowman pastoral families in Australia.

John Bowman from Fife was the forefather of the first.  Because of his skill in corn mill construction he and his family were given a free passage to Sydney on the Barwell in 1798.  He was later granted land at Richmond and he and his son George were pioneers of the Hawkesbury region of NSW.  George and his wife Eliza raised seven sons, including:

  • George who expanded on his father’s land holdings and became the largest pastoralist in the Hunter Valley, breeding both sheep and cattle.
  • Robert who became a medical practitioner in Sydney
  • and Alexander who was a politician elected to the Legislative Assembly of Hawkesbury.

Another John Bowman, this one from Cumbria, was the forebear of Bowman pastoralists in South Australia.  He had first arrived with his family in Tasmania.  Ten years later the family, following the lead of the oldest son Edmund, moved to South Australia:

  • Edmund’s three brothers worked for around twenty years on the Crystal Brook run
  • while it was Edmund’s son Edmund who built the magnificent Georgian-style mansion Martindale Hall in 1880.  Sadly in 1890, after several years of droughts and low wool prices, Edmund had to put the house up for sale.

The third of the pastoralists was William Bowman from Glasgow who came to South Australia in 1839.  He was a pioneer farmer, grazier, flour miller and merchant on the Finniss river near Middleton.

Select Bowman Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Bowman Names

George Bauman/Bowman was the immigrant father of “the four centaurs of Cedar Creek,” four brothers who were among the early pioneers of Kentucky in the 1780’s. 
Joe Bowman
held the position of huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds from 1879 to 1924.  He was a famous huntsman of his time, as well as having his own well-known hunting song.
Alexander Bowman
was a pioneer of the trade union movement in Belfast in the early 1900’s. 
John McEntee Bowman
, born to Scots Irish immigrant parents in Toronto, moved to New York in the 1890’s and developed the Biltmore hotel into one of the most recognized hotel chains in the world.
Scotty Bowman was one of the most successful coaches of the National Hockey League, winning his ninth Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 2002

Select Bowmans Today

  • 15,000 in the UK (most numerous in Durham)
  • 39,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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