This is an English and specifically Devonian surname. It derives from a village called 'Crowden', (the valley of the crows) near the town of Okehampton, in the west part of the county. In the 20th century the surname is generally recorded as 'Crowden and Growden' throughout the county. The development of the latter form is probably as a result of overlapping local dialects, poor spelling, and even worse writing! What is perhaps surprising is that both Crowden and Growden are equally popular in the registers of Devon, and date from much the same period. This suggests that perhaps the village was 'cleared' under the 15th century 'Enclosure Acts', the original tenants being then driven off their lands and commons, and forced to seek new pastures and new livings elsewhere. Devon being a large agricultural county, was apparently able to absorb them, the name rapidly spreading through the area in the 17th century. Early examples of the name recordings include Johan Crowden of Kenn, near Exeter, christened there on June 19th 1572, Elyanor Crowden of Crediton, recorded there on September 21st 1595, and Elizabeth Growden who married Robert Lyttle at Barnstaple, on January 24th 1616. An unusual recording which may be another variant spelling, although one which now would seem to be completely extinct, is that of John Groven of Widworthy in Devon, who was registered there on February 6th 1725 in the reign of King George 1st of Hanover. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Growden, which was dated January 22nd 1567, who was christened at St Mary Major, Exeter, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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