I have received a number of replies in my search for the origin and history of the name SPOWART, some with helpful information, others who wished me well in my search, and some with a Spowart in their family tree and have decided to commence their own search. People have written from Australia, the USA, Canada and of course Scotland, where I have contacted three relatives.
This is the information I have received .
Along with the suggestion of the Bavarian seaman (Spovart) shipwrecked and rescued on the River Forth, there is also the belief that it could also be of Flemish origin (Damask weavers tradesmen) coming to Scotland from Flanders at the height of the wool trade, to be employed in the mills of Northumberland and Fife. Another theory I received from a contact who has a Spowart friend , and whose family did some research into the name, are convinced it comes from a Dutch name SPOLEART, from the 1600's. The Black Forest of Germany has also been mentioned. And, it has been suggested that it is a variation of STEWART or STUART.
A second variation of the spelling is SPOUART, noted in the early 18th century. Thomas SPOUART, a Tackman of the Townhill (Dunfermline, Fife) had a son born 5/12/1801, and another Thomas SPOUART had a son born 6/6/1803. Could the variation in spelling be caused by the use of the Old Roman script "V" (which was divided into todays "u,v,and w) as is often seen on public buildings today, where "U" looks like a "V".?? A number of spellings have been found on gravestones and documents at New Register House in Edinburgh.
UPDATE .......After searching the Scottish census index and studying the penmanship on several Extracts of Birth from Scotland, I am of the opinion that the different spellings of the name can be attributed to errors. In one census index the father SPOWART has a son listed as SPOUART and that son is listed twice in the next index SPOWART and SPOUART and has a son SPOWART. On my fathers Extract of Birth, I know my grandmothers's maiden name was Mason but the up and down strokes of the penmanship at the start and end of the M are on top of each other and the centre of the letter is rounded like a "U" and not pointed like a "V" and has a little tail at the beginning and end of the letter. If I didn't know it was an "M", I would have thought it was a "U". I would now also assume that any spelling with a "V" could also be an error.
The earliest Spowart traced to date is (ooops.. That now should read "was") in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland in 1625. An earlier date has been noted from another gentleman who checked the IGY at the library and found a John Spowart born in 1609, in Alloa, Clackmannan, and an Alison Spowart born in 1614, in Kirkcaldy.
A Spowart in South Africa whose grandparents immigrated there at the turn of the century is researching his family, and has contacted me. He had checked with the "Clan Tartan Centre" in Edinburgh and was advised the earliest Spowart traced was Andrew in Colliarow, in Clackmannan, in 1665. There also may be a connection to the Clan MacDuff. He has also came across the spelling of SPOUART.
I have received the following information from another Spowart who is researching the name .. "My understanding of the origin of Spowart is from The Book of Surnames of Scotland printed in 1965 which states that Spowart is a surname common in Fife for which a Flemish origin has been suggested. Andrew Spowart appears in Colliarow of Clackmannan 1695."
(NOTE..the two Andrew Spowarts from Colliarow of Clackmannan ..1665 and 1695 .. could be the same person due to a date typing error or ....possibly a father and son.)
New Info.... The latest info based on research from another Spowart suggests that it may be a gypsy name from Transylvaia (now Romania??)
I have received three photos of a stained glass window in the Abbey in Dunfermline that were donated by a Thomas Spowart, and a photo of his gravesite in the Abbey cemetery. The first photo is the inscription at the bottom of the window panels, the second is the full window and the third is the grave surrounded by a wrought iron fence. A fourth photo is an interior view of the Abbey showing the window on the left. These photos may be viewed on my "Stained Glass Window" page..