Recorded as Found and Founds, this interesting and unusual surname is of Cornish origin. it is believed to be a breakaway form from the place name Penfound in Otterham, recorded as "Penfoun" in 1356. The place is now no longer identifiable. An estimated five thousand surnames originates from now "lost" medieval villages and hamlets that have disappeared since the 12th Century and this would seem to be another to add to the growing list. The reasons are complex but include natural disasters such as the Black Death of 1348, in which upto a quarter of the population perished, and later to the practice of enforced "clearing." Under this legalised robbery landowners were able to lay claim to the common lands used by tenants to graze their animals, which was then enclosed for sheep pastures. The placename derives from the Cornish "pen", meaning head, and "fawen", a beech tree, presumably the beach tree on the hill top. Migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming common in the Elizabethan period, and when this happened people took or were given their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Joan Found and William Underhill on January 25th 1590, at Bitton, Gloucestershire; the marriage of John Founds and Anne Tummell on January 16th 1638, at St. Giles Cripplegate, London; and the christening of Nicholas, son of Samuel and Elizabeth Founds, on August 3rd 1641, at St. Andrew Undershaft, London. 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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