This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an unusual variant of "Athowe, Attoe", which itself derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "aet", at (Middle English "att(e)") and "hoh, hoe", a ridge or bank. Hence the name is an English topographical name for "a dweller by a hill or ridge". 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.The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century (see below), while one John ate How is mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. Other early examples of the surname include William Attehow, recorded in the History of Norfolk in 1286, and Thomas Attehow de Methwolde, vicar of Griston, Norfolk, also mentioned in the History of Norfolk in 1357. Sarah Athoo was christened on July 28th 1586 at Fakenham Magna, Suffolk, while John Athow married Cicle Lunsford on January 30th 1616 at St. Olave's, Old Jewry, London. James Attew married Ann Williams on October 12th 1839 at St. Pancras, Old Church, London. A Coat of Arms depicting a chevron between three silver carpenter's squares on a black shield, was granted to a Athowe family in Brysley, Norfolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip Atteho, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Kent", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272- 1307. 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.
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