This interesting and unusual name has three possible origins, the first of which is Anglo-Saxon, and is from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name 'Mawa', recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Mauua' and in 1199 as 'Mawe'. The personal name was originally a byname from the Old English 'maew', the (sea) mew. The second possible origin is from an early medieval nickname for someone related to a well known, important local personality, and is derived from the Middle English 'maw, maugh', relative by marriage; in the south this was usually a female relative (from the Old English 'mage', female relative), and in the north of a brother-in-law. The third possible origin for the modern surname, which can be found as Maw, Mawe, Mowe, Mew and Mewe, is from an Anglo-Saxon topographical surname for someone who lived by a meadow, derived from the Old English 'mawe', meadow. The marriage of Robert Maw and Agnes Smith was recorded in Stepney, London, on September 9th 1540. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Mawe, which was dated 1275, The Norfolk Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272-1307. 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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