This name, with variant spellings Down, Downe and Downes, derives from the Old English pre 7th Century 'dun' meaning a sloping declivity or tract of low hills, and was originally given as a topographic name to one who lived by either of these natural features. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century, (see below). Variant forms of the name 'de la Donne', 'de la Don' and 'atte Doune' appear in the Hundred Rolls of Devon and Somerset, dated 1273. A Reginald del Downes appears in the records of East Cheshire under the date 1407. The final '(e)s' on the name preserves the Old English genitive i.e., 'of the Down'. On June 11th 1674 Emme Downs and William Hickson were married in St. Katherine by the Tower, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de la Duna, which was dated circa, 1170 - 'Studies on Middle English Local Surnames' by Lafvenberg', during the reign of King Henry 11, 'The Builder of Churches', 1154 - 1189. 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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