This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it can be a metronymic form of the medieval female given name "Douce, Dowce", an example of the comparatively rare group of surnames formed from the name of the first bearer's mother, here, "Dowce's son". The given name derives from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) word "douce, dowce", meaning sweet, pleasant, from the Old French "dolz, dous", itself derived from the Latin "dulcis". In some cases, the term may have been used as a nickname or byname, and thus may be a source for the modern surname as a patronymic, i.e., from the father's name. The second possible origin of "Dowson" is from the patronymic form of "Dow", a variant of "Daw", one of the diminutive forms of the male given name "David", from the Hebrew name meaning "Beloved". John Dowson, recorded in the Chartulary of Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire, of 1349, was named from this source. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Doucesone, which was dated 1320, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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