This ancient surname recorded as Rowe and Row, is English. It has at least three possible origins. The first is topographical, and as such it may have described a person who who lived either by a hedgerow, or possibly a row of houses. Eitherway it derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word "raw" meaning row. Secondly, and more likely we think, it may derive from either the medieval given name Rou or Roul, both from the ancient Germanic personal name Rolf, or from a short form of the given name Rowland, a Germanic or Frankish personal name of the time of Charlamagne the Great in the 8th century a.d. Rolf translates as 'renowned wolf' whilst Rowland means 'renowned land'. The surname in England is late 12th century (see below), making it one of the very first of all surnames. Other early recordings include Richard le Rowe, in the Assize Rolls of Cheshire in 1226, and Walter le Rowe in the Pleas of the forest of Epping, Essex in 1246. Early surviving examples of church recordings include Gedeock Rowe who was christened on March 13th 1552 at Allhallows , in the city of London, and Anne, the daughter of William Row, who was christened on July 29th 1556 at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey. Maria Rowe, aged 30, was an Irish famine emigrant, who sailed from Liverpool aboard the ship "John-Robert" bound for New York, on June 1st 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey le Ruwe. This was dated 1195, in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, and known to history as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. © Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2011
Note that, in Ireland, the name Rowe or Roe may be from more than one source, in adition to the foregoing, for example: 1. From the added descriptive term rua or ruadh added to a gaelic name, meaning ruddy or red. Later anglesized to Roe. Thus in Owen Roe the 'Roe' bit isnt a surname, it just means 'the ruddy one'. Owen Roe O'Niell for example is NOT a Roe in the English sense. 2. From the anglesization of a number of similar sounding gaelic names, like ruaidh. In fact names like Macenroe also developed from these. 3. A large number of English soldiers and administrators came into Ireland during the plantation era and cromwellian and williamite wars. Obviously these were 'Rowes' as described in the earlier paragraphs.