Meaning: from Germanic name Karl, meaning “man” or from ‘hari’, meaning ‘warrior’– The popularity of the name in continental Europe was due to the fame of Charles the Great (742-814), commonly known as Charlemagne, a king of the Franks who came to rule over most of Europe. His grandfather Charles Martel had also been a noted leader of the Franks. It was subsequently the name of several Holy Roman emperors, as well as kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary (in various spellings). After Charlemagne, his name was adopted as a word meaning “king” in many Eastern European languages, for example Czech král, Hungarian király, Russian король (korol), and Turkish kral.
The name did not become common in Britain until the 17th century when it was borne by the Stuart king Charles I. It had been introduced into the Stuart royal family by Mary Queen of Scots, who had been raised in France.
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought many new words to England from which surnames were formed. Rowe was one of these new Norman names. It was specifically tailored to its first bearer, who was a person with red hair. Looking back even further, we found the name was originally derived from the Old French nickname le rous, meaning redhead. Further to the north in Scotland, the name has a different meaning, specifically “row, signifies a low, small, narrow peninsula.”
The surname Rowe was first found in Norfolk where Turchil le Roux was granted lands by King William after his attendance upon him at Hastings. His son Ralph the Red (Roux) went with King Henry to the Crusades and held the Castle of Pont-echanfre near Bernai in Vexin Normandy. He died in the wreck of the “Blanche Neuf” with the King’s two sons and their estates became divided.