This is a baffling surname, which on the face of it should be easy to explain. It is obviously English, and should be as well recorded as Oldfield or Oldroyd, both of which have or had, a similar meaning of the 'old area cleared for grazing'. As explanation the surname 'Meadows' is relatively common, but the name 'Newmeadow' does not apparently exist at all. So we have something of a conundrum, and one which is not helped by the scarcity of early recordings. We believe that 'Oldmeadow' was a village or at least a hamlet, but where it was or what happened to it, is a total mystery. Surnames from 'lost' village names are not uncommon, in fact it is possible that as many as five thousand surnames derive from 'lost' sites of one sort or another. Most of these places disappeared between 1550 and 1750 when the ancient commons were 'enclosed' under the various acts permitting this legalised robbery, and when this happened the former tenants had no option but to leave their home and to move elsewhere. 'Elsewhere' with a forced removal, was often London, and it was here that we found the earliest proven recordings, although we accept that there maybe earlier examples in some county or region which we have missed. These recordings include John Oldmeadow at St Katherines by the Tower (of London) on June 4th 1708, and William Odsell who married Eleanor Oldmeadow at St Georges chapel, Mayfair, London, on April 7th 1729. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Oldmedoe, which was dated February 12th 1704, at St Katherines by the Tower, London, during the reign of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, 1702 - 1714. 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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