This interesting surname is of English origin, but it is now more common in Ireland. The surname is locational from a now "lost" place called "Dowdale" thought to have been in Yorkshire. 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 14th and 15th Centuries. The meaning of the placename is unknown. The surname has been prominent in Ireland since the Anglo-Norman invasion, and it is now most prominent in Counties Dublin and Louth. The modern surname can be found as Dowdall, Dowdle and Dowdell. Among the sample recordings in Ireland is the marriage of Christopher Dowdall and Jane Geragh on October 4th 1656 at St. Michan, County Dublin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholaus de Dowedale, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax records", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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