Recorded in various forms including Godwin, Goodwin, Goodswin, and the Norfolk and East Anglian Godswen and Goodswen, this is an ancient English surname. It is of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins, and has the fairly uncommon distinction of surviving the Norman Conquest of 1066, and the later influx of Norman names, which for 'politically correct' reasons killed off many of the early British names, or drove them into the outlying areas. The derivation is from the personal name "Godwine", composed of the elements "god", meaning either "god" or "good", with the second element of "wine", meaning friend or protector or "sweyn", meaning "follower of". These early "names" whether Olde English, Anglo-Saxon, or Scandanavian -Viking were usually distinctive compounds whose elements were associated with the gods of fire, water, and war. The surname is first recorded in 1177, when Walter Godwin, was listed in the county Pipe Rolls of the county of Norfolk, whilst other early examples include William Goodswein of Lincoln in the year 1206, Roger Gudswen of Norfolk in circa 1320, and William Godewaynes of Worcester in 1327. Examples of church recordingstaken from surviving church registers include: the christening of Elizabeth, the daughter of William Goodwin, at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on September 4th 1550, and the marriage of Henry Goodwin and Johan Boyser, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on January 16th 1564. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often 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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