Street Sign - Rowden Street in Plymouth, Devon
James Rowdon - Signature and seal from a document dated 1782
John Rowden - Spitfire pilot in WW2
Grocer's Book - Account book from Thomas Rowden's shop in Kingston, Surrey
Kent Coastline - Looking eastwards from Seasalter towards Whitstable

The Rowden Surname website

This site is dedicated to linking Rowden families and finding more about the origins of the surname. As I have discovered, there are many people all around the world with the surname and occasionally I have the very great pleasure in meeting them for the first time.

It is not known how long people have been using the surname Rowden - or its variant spellings. Some records going back to the 13th century indicate that the name was given to those who lived in an area described by the use of two old English words, ruh and dun.

Whether you are familiar with the spelling Rowden or Rowdon there is, I believe, little significance. Often different records relating to one individual will show both spellings. The individual may have been illiterate and not sure of how it ought to be spelt, although in many families one version was clearly used most. There are other close variations such as Rowdan, Rowdene, Rowdin, Rowding, Rouden; however they are not common. Although there are certainly more Rowdens now than Rowdons, I am of the belief that the name started out as Rowdon. To look more at the statistics select 'What's in a Name' from the top of the menu on the right.

Rowdens mainly lived in one of the four English counties shown here on the map. There were a few others dotted around in other counties but with the subsequent increase in movement of people away from their home areas the picture became less focused.

UK Map

My family roots are in central Devon, England. At the centre of the county, in the civil parish of Sampford Courtenay, to the south of the Crediton to Okehampton road and just to west of the river Taw, is a small hamlet named Rowden. Here, there are a handful of houses with one formerly known as Rowden Manor. To the East of the small village is an area called Rowden Moor and a mile or two beyond that, the village of Bow. If any village in recent times, and here I mean the last few hundred years, had the most Rowdens in it, it must be Bow - alias, Nymet Tracey. Bow and its environs certainly outstripped any other place for the highest density of Rowdens living in one place in the mid-19th century. (For more on this see the census pages)

Although there was a strong Rowden presence in Devon in the 18th and 19th centuries, the map shows the other counties where Rowdens feature prominently. Wiltshire seems to hold second place with some minor spilling into neighbouring counties Hampshire and Dorset. The seaside village of Seasalter and its neighbour Whitstable feature a strong Rowden presence in the mid to late 19th century. However recent evidence seems to indicate that the paternal grandfather of these Rowdens came from Wiltshire. However, the very earliest Rowdons that I have discovered came from just outside of Bromyard in Herefordshire.

Whether you are a Rowden or Rowdon or maybe neither, I trust you enjoy browsing these pages.

Gavin Rowden