This interesting and unusual English surname is an occupational name for a person who puddled clay i.e., worked with a mixture of wet clay and sand that is impervious to water and is used to line a pond or canal. It may also describe a person who worked in Iron, i.e., to wash ore. The name according to one source is found in Yorkshire and Shropshire. The surname first appears in records in the late 13th Century (see below). The London church registers first record the name in 1549, when one Thomas Bowdler was christened at St. Mary Magdalene, old Fish street on July 26th. The following entries are also included: Margaret, daughter of Thomas Bowdler, who was christened on July 28th 1552 at St. Mary Magdalene: William Bowdler's son, Richard was christened on January 16th 1568 at St. Augusine, Old Fish street. The term "to bowdlerize", means to remove passages or words regarded as indecent from written works was coined when Thomas Bowdler (1754 - 1825) an English editor who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard le Boudler, which was dated 1273, the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, "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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