The surname of BOWMAN has two origins for the name, one being that a bowman was 'a person who farmed for a season the tenants milk-cows and the pasture to maintain them'. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The second origin was that the 'bowman' was a maker of arrows, an archer. Early records of the name mention Gregory Bowman who rendered to the Exchequer the accounts of the sheriff of Aberdeen in 1328. Robert Bowman a follower of the earl of Cassilis was respited for murder in 1526. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Registered in Scotland in 1805.
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