This most interesting surname is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived in a small hut or bothy, from the Old Danish word "both", Middle English "both(e)", which was used to denote various kinds of temporary shelter, especially a cowshed or a herdsman's hut. The surname is most popular today in Northern England, where Scandinavian influence was more marked, and in Scotland, where the name may have been borrowed from the Gaelic "both(an)". Topographical names were among the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century (see below), while one Gilbert del Both was recorded in Yorkshire in 1297, according to the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield. William atte Bothe was listed in the Pleas before the King of 1297 in Norfolk. William Booth (1390 - 1464) was Archbishop of York in 1452; George Booth (1622 - 1684) took the parliamentarian side in the Civil War, but later entered a plot for the restoration of Charles 11; William Booth (1829 - 1912) was an English religious leader who was founder and first general of the Salvation Army (1878). John Wilkes Booth (1838 - 1865) was notorious as Abraham Lincoln's assassin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Bothe, which was dated 1274, in the "Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield" (Yorkshire), 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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