from The Century Dictionary.
- noun A woman who has taken a vow; a nun.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Whatever fasts a vowess might neglect as non-obligatory, it seems probable that she would not willingly forgo any opportunity of showing reverence to the Blessed Virgin, who, in the belief of St. Augustine, had taken vows of chastity before the salutation of the Angel.
Leland remarks, with reference to a member of the Marmion family at West Tanfield, Yorkshire: "There lyeth there alone a lady with the apparill of a vowess"; and in Norfolk there are still in existence two brasses of widows and vowesses.
That the vow was restricted to the obligation of perpetual chastity, and in no way curtailed the freedom and privileges which the vowess shared with other ladies, is demonstrated by the contents of various wills, like that of Katherine of Riplingham, dated February 8, 1473.
‘vowess’ (Holinshed); ‘ministress’, ‘flatteress’ (both in Holland);
Spiritus, "and at the close bestowed upon the vowess the mantle, the veil, and the ring.