This picturesque name is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is a locational name from a place so called in Hampshire, which was first recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles of 501 as "Portesmutha", and as "Portesmuda" in the Pipe Rolls of 1194. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century "port", from the Latin "portus", meaning harbour. Portsmouth is at the entrance to the harbour and is thus, the mouth of Port harbour. During the Middle Ages as it became more usual for people to emigrate from their place of birth, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification.Among the early recordings in Hampshire is the marriage between one Henry Portsmouth and Anna Watts on March 2nd 1670 at Yattley. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Porchmouthe (marriage to Marion Couper), which was dated October 18th 1579, St. Margaret's, Westminster, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "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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