The surname of ROWE was a baptismal name 'the son of Roland' a once familiar personal name on the Scottish border and in the north of England generally. The name was derived from the Old English word 'RAWE' and sometimes meant, 'the dweller at the row of cottages'. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. The name is also spelt ROW, RUE, ROWES and ROWSON. Early records of the name mention Geoffrey le Rowe, 1195 Leicestershire. Richard del Rowe, 1368, Stephen del Rowe 1426 and Hugh Rowe, 1441 were all mayors of Macclesfield, and of the same family. William del Rowe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) was the English poet and dramatist born in Little Barford, Bedfordshire. He was educated at Westminster and was called to the Bar, but from 1692 he devoted himself to literature. Between 1700 and 1715 he produced eight plays of which three were popular, 'Tamerlane' 'The Fair Penitent' and 'The Tragedy of Jane Shore'. The Prince of Wales made him clerk of his council and Lord Chancellor Parker appointed him clerk of presentations in chancery. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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