This very unusual surname is perhaps surprisingly, Scottish. It is locational from an area known as Girdwood at Carnwath, in the county of Lanarkshire, and in the former ancient kingdom of Strathclyde. The place name meaning is probably 'gravel wood' from the pre 7th century Olde English 'greot wudu', but this is partly speculation, as no absolute proof is known to exist. The surname is believed to be first recorded in the 16th century when James Girdvod was a member of a land ownership inquest at Carnwath in 1524. Later recordings include those of David Girwood of Kerse, also in Carnwath in 1622, whilst Adam Girdwood is given as being a shoemaker in Edinburgh in 1657. Many Scottish locational surnames are quite specific in that they are named from ownership or even tenantship, of a particular piece of land. This need only be a small holding or farm, and not as in England, an estate. In this case the nameholders appear to have had a heriditary holding of the lands of Girwood until late in the 17th century, or possibly into the 18th. Thereafter the name was associated with the church in Pencuik, where various related nameholders were minsters.
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