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From the information below you will see possible explanations of the
origin of the name Bews and, because Orkney was
part of the Norwegian realm right up to 1471, a Norse derivation is likely
to be accurate.
My book on Orkney surnames has this to say:
Bews: an interesting Orkney surname and one of the most difficult to unravel.
We find the name Bews in Orkney placenames such as
Quoybewmont, Bewin etc. from some 'lost' Old Norse word meaning 'hobgoblin'
relating to the Scottish word 'boo' and the Danish word 'bussemand' both of
which mean 'hobgoblin': clearly a nickname given by the Norse
to some of the
early Celtic peoples. (I don't buy this one).
Bews is a very common surname in Orkney today and lies 23rd in the list of
Orkney surnames. This name is particularly concentrated in Kirkwall where
half of the Bews families live".
In Norwegian "bu" means "booth" or "stall". It frequently appears in place
names in Southern Norway where the home farm of the 12th Century Jarl of
Orkney Ragnvald Kale Kolssøn is to be found, e.g. Strømsbu (the Streams
Stall) Barbu (Bare Stall). This may also be a source of the name.
There is also a placename in Shetland called Bewsetter.
Take your choice: a booth or stall (Ian Laird) or a hobgoblin (Gregor Lamb)
or farm (Rory Sinclair) or a dandy (Orcadian
archivist, Bob Leslie)
Bob Leslie has promised to get back to me..............watch this space for
more exciting guess-work.
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