What Is a One-Name Study?

A one-name study is a comprehensive, centralized exploration of a surname and its variants worldwide to develop a complete and accurate record. While supporting the single-lineage researcher and archiving surname-related documents, it seeks to identify the surname’s characteristics, including:

  • origins
  • meaning
  • distribution and frequency
  • emigration patterns
  • variants
  • and more!

For a medium-sized surname study such as this, we can only really begin to articulate these characteristics with any certainty after collecting a large body of data that can be properly synthesized. That makes this website a perpetual work in progress.

Why organize a study of the Bowes and related surnames?

# 1 Reason: It’s fun and a great mental challenge!

# 2 Reason: While family lore and the internet harbor treasures for genealogists, they can both also spread oversimplified or completely false family history and surname information. The Bowes surname for starters leads to a lot of confusion that’s just waiting to be clarified. As examples:

  • It has separate origins in Ireland and England (we may have found a third in Scotland!)
  • It’s not small or local enough to yield satisfactory results from a brief study
  • It’s not important enough –- in the case of all but one of its English lineages -– to be well documented already

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear that a number of similar sounding surnames share the same variants, or potentially do. How does one know which spellings in the records to pay attention to? Our DNA project and variants spreadsheet explore this question with great breadth.