This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a topographical name for one whose home was beside a main highway. The surname derives from the Middle English phrase "bi the weie", by the road. Topographical surnames were some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname is first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below), and is found mainly in the West Midlands.Gervase Bythewy is noted in the Chartulary of the Monastery of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire (1244). The surname can also be found as Bythway, Byway and Bidaway. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Margaret Bytheway and William Bowman, which took place on May 1st 1651 at All Saints, Worcester, Worcestershire; the marriage of Francis Bytheway and Susan Bonick, which took place on August 21st 1679 at St. James', Duke's Place, London; and the christening of Sarah, daughter of Francis and Hannah Bytheway, which took place on July 2nd 1685 at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Bithewaye, which was dated 1243, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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