Dowie Family History



George Thomas Dowie portrait


The origins of the Dowie surname can be Norman (Douai in northern France), Scottish and Irish. The northern Irish descendants are possibly a variant of Duffy whereas it is considered that the Scottish descendants are probably reduced from the surname MacIldowie, an anglicised form of Gaelic Mac Gille Dhuibh “son of the black haired lad”.

My Roots

I have been able to trace my family back to the late 1700’s where Robert Dowie, a stone mason, resided in Surrey England.
Robert came from Scotland and married in England around age 34. I do not know the region of Scotland he was from or his family. It is possible he was married earlier and some tragedy drove him to England where he started life again. Investigation is continuing and hopefully I will establish the missing link with the great assistance of other Dowie researchers. The main feature throughout this family is that most sons were stone masons. The exception was my Grandfather.

My Grandfather

Born in 1889 Surrey England, he traveled to New Zealand prior to World War 1. Details of his life and adventures are non existent. He fought for New Zealand in the war but under a false name (Wells). Extraction of his war record (1917 to 1919) has not provided any clues as to why he used an alias. I was always under the impression that he ran away from home, joined the merchant navy at a very early age and somehow ended up in New Zealand.
I have found a reference to what I suspect is him boarding a ship from England to Melbourne Australia in 1908 which would make him around 19 years old. His war record indicates his next of kin was his sister who resided in Adelaide Australia so perhaps he spent his time between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney as well as New Zealand, albeit his sister, husband and family did not migrate until 1912.
He married my Grandmother in Sydney Australia in 1922 – the place of marriage is not far from where I currently work!
While living in Dunedin New Zealand he had his own company “Dowie Dismantling Co Limited” which existed between 1932 to 1941. I have a photograph of the boys on the job. He died when I was aged 6 however I have various memories of him but sadly very little information regarding him or the family exists.

Future Research

The mystery as to what my Grandfather did in Australia, why he traveled to New Zealand, change his name then end up back in Sydney where he presumably met my Grandmother is unanswered. I hope over time that pieces will somehow become available.
Investigation into other family members will continue as I slowly gather birth, death and marriage certificates.
The main thrust of my research is to push past the brick wall where I have been stuck for several years at the current source – Robert Dowie and Ann. It would be great to find the link to his family in Scotland and hopefully back to the 1500’s if possible.