Bywater (surname)

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Pronunciation baɪ.wɔːtər
Region of origin Yorkshire
Language(s) Anglo-Saxon
Meaning by the water

Bywater /ˈbwɔːtər/ is an uncommon English surname of Anglo-Saxon origin and can most frequently be found in the English region of Yorkshire. It is a topographical surname given to those who were situated near a body of water.[1]


Bywater is an uncommon surname of Anglo-Saxon origin. It is a topographical surname given to those who were situated near a body of water.[1] The name derives from the merger of the Old English words bi (Middle English: by) and waeter (Middle English: water) to form biwaeter.

Topographical surnames are among the earliest created, because natural and artificial features in the landscape provided easily identifiable and distinguishing names among small communities in medieval England.[1]


The surname was first recorded by Thomas Bithewater, a witness to a wedding which dates to 1219, in the Yorkshire Assize Rolls.[1]

It was first recorded in Middle English at the marriage of John Bywater and Eleonar Copgood at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 19 September 1637.[1]

Geographical dispersion[edit]

For such a simple topographical surname, it has experienced very little geographical dispersal in its descendants, and the vast majority of people with the surname are to this day still located in the Yorkshire region. The name can also be found to an even lesser extent in London and other parts of the UK, as well as former British colonies in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, who themselves are descendants from individuals who emigrated from Yorkshire.



  1. ^ a b c d e "Surname: Bywater". Internet Surname Database. Retrieved 2010-05-29.