This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name for "a dweller by the south wood", or an English locational name from a place so called in Norfolk, which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Suthuuide, Sudwda". Both of these derivations come from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "suth", south and "wudu", a wood. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Locational names however, were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their village or place of origin to settle elsewhere. The surname itself is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), while other early examples of the name include William de Suthwud (Essex, 1225) and Margaret Suwode (Sussex, 1296). Marie Southwood, aged 22 yrs., was one of the early settlers in the New World, having embarked from London from "Virginea" aboard the "Assurance" in July, 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elfere de Sudwude, which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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