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Surname Stowe - Meaning and Origin

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Stowe: What does the surname Stowe mean?

The last name Stowe is of English origin and is derived from the Old English term "stow," which means a 'holy place' or 'meeting place'. It was often used to refer to a place of worship or an assembly area in a town or village. Those bearing the Stowe surname would have been residents near or caretakers of such a place. This kind of surname is known as a toponymic surname, where the name is based on a geographic location. Over time, the meaning of Stowe has expanded to refer to any kind of place, not just a holy or meeting place. This surname is commonly found throughout England and the United States. Famously, it's shared by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the American abolitionist and author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

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Stowe: Where does the name Stowe come from?

The last name Stowe is of European origin. It is most popular in England currently, although it is widespread across the United Kingdom with scattered populations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The name also has a presence in other countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, and Germany.

Tracing Stowe throughout the millennium reveals its origin in Saxon-era England in the 11th century. It is possible that the name originally comes from the old English word “Stoew” which means “pole”. Some believe the name was derived from someone who lived near a tall pole, such as a milestone or marker, or of someone who made and sold the poles.

In the early 1600s, the Stowe family name began to spread far and wide throughout England. It is widely associated with Bishop Edmund Stow, who was the bishop of London in the mid 1500s; the Stowes of Stowe-in-the-Hole; and the Stowes of the village of Chertenham in Gloucestershire.

Today, the surname Stowe is mainly found in the UK, particularly in England. Its ranking among last names suggests the name has remained somewhat consistent in size, with an estimated 4,499 people currently bearing the Stowe last name in the UK.

With over four thousand Stowes in the UK today, it is likely the name will continue to spread, reflecting the continued lineage of the family name that began so many centuries ago.

Variations of the surname Stowe

The surname Stowe is of English origin and is related to the Old English word ‘stow' which referred to a village or a holy place. Variations and spellings of the surname include Stow, Stoe, Stowes, Staugh, Stamer, Stooming and Stonemound. Stowe can also be found as part of some double-barreled surnames such as Grocott-Stowe, Withington-Stowe and Brown-Stowe. It is also found as a variant of Stew, meaning someone who works in a kitchen, in which case variants include Stewart, Stuart, Steuart and Steuard.

The surname might have been derived from placenames such as Stow in Suffolk, Herefordshire and on the Wolds of Lincolnshire. It is also found as a place name in Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Wiltshire. Other old places that the surname might have originated from include Stowey near Bristol, Stout Wey in Northamptonshire and Stoughton in Sussex.

Stowe can also be found as part of some geographical surnames such as Stowesbank and Stoweford.

Additionally, Stowe might come from the Old Norse ‘stöðvar’, meaning a landing place on a river or a lake, and this might be the origin of alternate spellings such as Stoever and Stover.

In the United States, Stowe is the 6,584th most common surname, suggesting that it might be found with other spellings due to immigration and other influences. It is particularly common in the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Idaho.

Famous people with the name Stowe

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896): an American author and abolitionist. She is best known as the writer of the 1852 anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Bruce Stowe (1927-2006): an American oceanographer and professor. He was the director of the University of California's Center for Ocean Exploration.
  • Lyman Beecher Stowe (1813-1901): an American Presbyterian minister, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, and an abolitionist.
  • Calvin Ellis Stowe (1802-1886): an American Congregationalist minister, father-in-law to Harriet Beecher Stowe, and a missionary.
  • Lydia M. Stowe (1810-1900): an American writer and temperance activist, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Henry Ward Beecher Stowe (1811-1886): an American Congregationalist minister and abolitionist, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Charles Edward Stowe (1830-1889): an American clergyman and abolitionist, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Calvin Stowe (1802-1886): an American writer and teacher, brother-in-law to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Frederick William Stowe (1822-1902): an American religious leader, missionary and lecturer, son of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Harriet Emeline Stowe (1836-1919): an American minister, teacher, and physician, daughter of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

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