This is an ancient Yorkshire locational surname, which derives from the village of Beckwith, in the Nidd Valley, near Harrogate. There is a house in Sussex called Beckworth Hall, but here again the original owners were of Yorkshire origin. Beckwith village is one of the earliest on record, appearing in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles as early as 972 a.d. in its correct spelling of 'Bec wudu' translating as the beech wood. In the Domesday Book the recording is as Beckvi, a sort of latinised style. The surname is 14th century (shown below) and thereafter it is well registered as both Beckwith and Beckworth. A curiosity is that the suffix changed from the Olde English 'wudu' to the Viking 'vior', but clearly not until many years, centuries even, after the Vikings themselves had been conquered, and the Normans ruled supreme. Examples of the surname recordings include Johannes de Bekwyth in the Poll Tax Rolls of York for 1379, and William Beckewithe who married Margrett Daye by civil licence at London in April 1562, whilst on January 30th 1625, Fabian Beckworth was a witness at St Vedasts Church, Foster Lane, London. One of the earliest American Colonists was Robert Beckwith, who went to Virginia in 1635, and his descendants probably fought against Sir George Beckwith, a prominent British officer in the War of American Independance (1772-1781). The Coat of Arms is a black field, on a chevron between three griffins heads, two red pheons. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus de Bekwyth, which was dated 1379, The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as 'Richard of Bordeaux', 1377 - 1399. 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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