This interesting and unusual name is of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand "lost" villages which have disappeared from maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The original place was composed of the initial element "Maw" from either the old English personal name "Mawa", or the old English "Mawe", meadow, and the second element "ford" a ford, hence "mawa's ford" or the "meadow by the ford".Place-names very often became surnames as they were one means of identifying people who moved from one area to another, hence they were one of the many influences in surname formation. The London church registers record the christening of one Sarah Mawford daughter of William and Sarah on November 10th 1741 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London. The name is also found as Mowford and Mowforth. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henrie and Marren Mawford, christening witnesses, which was dated March 4th 1637 at Groton in Suffolk, during the reign of King Charles 1, "the Martyr", 1625 - 1649. 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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