This is a very old topographical surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, for someone who lived by a wood. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aet", Middle English "atte", at, with the Olde English "wudu", Middle English "wood", wood. Topographical surnames, such as this, were among the earliest created in European countries, because topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient distinguishing names among a very small population, such as that of medieval England. Other similar formations from a large group of such surnames include: Atfield (at the field); Atherden (at the valley); Athoke (at the bend); and Attwater (at the water). The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Agnes Attewode (1273, Oxfordshire); William Attewood (1439, Norfolk); and Robert Atwode (1457, Oxfordshire). One "Richard Attwood and wife" are listed as residents in the parish of St. Michael's, Barbados, in 1680; they were among the earliest settlers in the New World Colonies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Attewode, which was dated 1243, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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