This unusual and interesting name is of Olde English and Danish-Viking origins and is locational. Recorded in several spellings as shown below, it is found particularly in the northern counties of England, especially Yorkshire, where there was a marked Scandinavian influence. Dowthwaite, Douthwait, Douthart, Douthert, Douthwaite, Outhwaite and Owthwaite all derive from a now "lost" medieval village believed to have been situated not far from Ilkley in West Yorkshire, near to the places called Bouthwaite and Gouthwaite. This latter village is a 20th century loss, being now under the resevoir of the same name on the River Nidd near to Pately Bridge. The placename means "Ufi's clearing", from an Olde Norse personal name, and 'thweit', meaning a meadow or clearing in a wood. The spelling as Douthwite may have introduced the Norman-French 'de' which later became fused into the new name. Early examples of surname recordings include Robertus de Dowthwayt of Yorkshire in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379, whilst John Outhwaite was christened on the 29th January 1693, at Markse, near Richmond, Yorkshire. 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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