This famous surname is Anglo-Scottish, but arguably of pre 7th century Norse-Viking origins. It is or rather was, topographical, and described a person who lived in a small barn or bothy. Derived from the word "both", the word was used to denote various kinds of shelter, but especially a herdsman's dwelling on a summer pasture. The surname is most popular in Northern England, where early Scandinavian influence was marked, and to some extent in Scotland. Topographical names were amongst the earliest to be created, as natural or man-made features in the countryside, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th century, and interesting examples include: Gilbert del Both in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield in 1297, whilst William Booth (1390 - 1464), was the Archbishop of York in 1452. George Booth (1622 - 1684) took the parliamentarian side in the Civil War, but later plotted the restoration of Charles 11nd in 1660; and William Booth (1829 - 1912) was the founder and first general of the Salvation Army. In America John Wilkes Booth (1838 - 1865) was notorious as the slayer of Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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