Dow Surname Genealogy

surname Dow has both English and Scottish origins, and possibly
different origins there:

  • the Scottish Dow, pronounced as
    “doo” or the Gaelic “duhb” and describing someone who was dark or
    swarthy, is believed to have come from the black bird daw, as in
  • while the
    English Dow
    may have been
    descriptive of someone of a gentle nature, like a dove. “Dove”
    transposed over time to different surname spellings in different
    places, including Dow in Norfolk.

Resources on

Dow Ancestry

One line sees Dows moving north from Berwick to Edinburgh and then a
Robert Dow owned land in Perthshire in 1497.

Perthshire is where Dows are most numerous in
Scotland today:

  • Thomas Dow’s will
    was recorded in Methven parish near Perth in 1609 and several Dows were
    recorded at
    Comrie, Crieff, Dull, and Monzie in the 19th century.
  • Daniel Dow
    was born in in Muthill in 1830. His son Daniel was a sea captain
    of the great Cunard liners at the turn of the century.
  • Donald
    Dow, when interviewed in the 1950’s, was one of the last Gaelic
    speakers in

Dows also have had a presence further north in
Aberdeenshire. Alexander Dow was born in Tarland, Aberdeenshire
in the early 1760’s. A later Alexander Dow of this family
emigrated with his three sons to Massachusetts in the 1870’s.

Dow is not that prevalent a surname in England. It originated in
Norfolk, first appearing there in the 13th century. John Dowe was
recorded in Great Yarmouth in Elizabethan times. The name is
mainly to be found in London and East Anglia today.

America. The Dows in
America could be of English, Scottish, or even possibly of Dutch
or Chinese origin. The Dutch Duows were from Gerald Duow, a
painter, whose
kin came to New Amsterdam about 1630 and settled near Albany.

New England. Henry and Joan Dow
came to New England in 1637 from Ormsby in Norfolk. The family
were Quaker and their descendants moved to Hampton in New Hampshire and
Berwick in Maine. Neal Dow, born of Quaker parents
in Portland Maine, was one of the founders of the American temperance
movement. Other Dow descendants were to be found in
Connecticut. They included:

  • Henry Dow
    of Derby, Connecticut and his son Henry Herbert Dow, the founder of the
    Dow Chemical Company.
  • the itinerant
    preacher Lorenzo
    , born in Coventry in 1777
  • Daniel Dow, born there six years earlier in 1771,
    who set off in later life for Iowa
  • and the Charles
    Dow of Dow Jones fame
    , born to a Sterling farming family in

Another early Dow arrival was Thomas Dow who came to Newbury,
Massachusetts with his wife Phebe in 1639.

Robert P. Dow’s 1929
book The Book of Dow covered
these various American genealogies.

Chinese Dows.
Hom Soon Dow and his wife Alice left China for Massachusetts in
1902. He started the H.S. Dow laundry in Boston five years
later. His son Harry was to become the first Chinese American to
study law and be admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Having
survived McCarthyite anti-Chinese prejudice in the 1950’s, Harry went
on working on community besed projects in Boston until his death in
1985 at the age of eighty.

Canada. Dows came
to New Brunswick from America in the days before the Revolutionary
War. There were two groups of Dows that migrated and each
established a Dow settlement:

  • one with William Dow in Brighton,
    Carleton county
  • and the other with Enoch Dow in Canterbury, York

Some of these New Brunswick Dows later headed back to
America. Wentworth
was a lumberman in Wisconsin who fought in the Civil
War. Edward Dow became a postmaster in Belton, Montana.

William Dow came to Montreal from Perthshire in Scotland in
1818. He and his brother Andrew started the Dow brewery there in
1830’s. It prospered and William, who never married, grew
Dow Breweries continued until 1966.

Several Dows emigrated to Australia from
Scotland, most notably William Henry Dow in 1854. He settled in
Melbourne and earned repute as a violin maker. He was said to
have made 200 violins and six cellos during his lifetime.

Select Dow Miscellany

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

Select Dow Names

Lorenzo Dow was a well-known
preacher in America in the early 1800’s.
Neal Dow from
Maine co-founded the National Temperance Society in 1865 and ran for
President on their ticket in 1880.
Charles H. Dow from
Connecticut founded the Wall Street
and devised the Dow Jones industrial stock average.
Henry Herbert Dow who founded
the Dow Chemical Company was one of the chemical pioneers of the late
19th and early 20th centuries.
Sir Hugh Dow was a British
civil servant who was governor of Sindh from 1941 to 1945. The
Medical College in Karachi was named after him.

Select Dows

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous
    in Massachusetts)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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