There are three possible sources of this surname, the first being that it is a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of bows, a vital trade in medieval times before the invention of gunpowder, and a derivative of the Old English pre 7th Century 'boga', bow, from 'bugan' to bend.
The surname may also be topographic for someone living near a bridge, the word 'boga' having acquired the sense 'arch', as in the supposed resemblance of the arch to a drawn bow. For example, Richard
atte Bowe (1306 Calender of Letter Books in the City of London).
Lastly, Bowe, being chiefly the Irish variant, is the anglicized form of the Gaelic 'O' Buadhaigh
', a descendant of 'Buadhach
' a personal name meaning victorious.
Amongst the recorded examples is one Elizabeth
Bowe, who was christened on January 8th 1597 at St. Margaret, Lothbury, London.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry
atte Bowe, which was dated 1298, Placenames of Devon, during the reign of King Edward I, 1272 - 1307.