This rare and interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The component elements of the placename are believed to be the Olde English pre 7th Century "cyrice", church, with "hlaw", low hill, mound; hence "church by a hill". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Robert Churchlow and Elizabeth Precious on September 13th 1778 at St. Anne's, Soho, Westminster; the christening of William, son of Thomas and Sarah Churchlow, on July 18th 1813 at St. Botolph without Aldgate; and the marriage of Elizabeth Churchlow and Robert Culley on June 28th 1825 at Christ Church Greyfriars, Newgate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ales Churchlowe, which was dated May 2nd 1569, marriage to Henry Walmsley, at Brindle, Lancashire, 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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