This picturesque and unusual name is of early medieval English origin, and is locational from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in Essex, due to the prevalence of Church recordings in that county. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain since circa 1100, due to such natural disasters as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, or to the widespread practice of "clearing" large areas of land to make sheep pastures during the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century.The placename, Boughtwood or Botwood, is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bot", repair, and "wudu", wood; possibly a wood where timber could be taken for repair or firewood. Recordings from Essex Church Registers include: the marriage of Robert Boughtwood and Jane Brown on April 8th 1672, at Farnham, and the marriage of Thomas Boughtwood and Ann Kinge on December 27th 1715, at Bocking St. Mary. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Grace Bowghtwodde, which was dated August 7th 1597, recorded at Bradwell-near-the-Sea, Essex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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