This unusual and interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, an can derive from a locational name, or from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name. As a locational surname Ellwood, and its variant forms Elwood and Allwood, derives from the place called Ellwood in Gloucestershire. The placename means "the elder wood", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Ellern", elder tree, with "wudu", wood. Locational surnames were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Ellwood may also be derived from the Olde English personal name "Aelfweald", which is composed of the elements "aelf", elf, and "weald", rule, and is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 in its Latinized form as "Aluuoldus" and "Alfuuold". Ralph Ellwood was an early emigrant to the New World Colonies, leaving London on the "Truelove", bound for New England in September 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Elwald, which was dated 1469, in the "Register of the Freemen of the City of York", during the reign of King Edward 1V, known as "The Self Proclaimed King", 1461 - 1483. 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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