This is a Devonshire or Somerset locational or topographical surname. Recorded in the spellings of Smalcomb, Smalecombe, Smalcombe, Smallcomb, Smallacombe, Smallcombe, and no doubt others as well, the surname derives from either a 'lost' medieval village, hamlet, or single farm called 'Small Combe' or similar, or it refers to a person who resided at a 'small valley'. The name originated from the Olde English pre 7th century 'smael', and 'cwm or cumb', a valley or cleft. There may be a secondary meaning of a 'valley cleared for agriculture', otherwise people would not have bothered living there, nor would they have drawn attention to it, by the allocation of a name. There are estimated to be at least five thousand 'lost medieval villages in Britain, of which only the surname survives, to remind us of their existence. The surname is first recorded in the time of Edward 1st, see below, and appears quite regularly in the church registers for the counties of Devon and Somerset from the late 16th century. Examples of these recordings include John Smalcomb who married Elizabeth Pomery, a famous name in the area, on January 21st 1570, at Ashwater, Devon, and John Smallcombe, who married Jane Cleevey at Bath, Somerset, on May 26th 1635. Later recordings are those of Percis Smallacombe, who married John Hollake at Mary Tavy, Devon, on April 18th 1648, and Thomas Smallcomb, who married Ann Giffiths at St Georges chapel, Hanover Square, London, on May 5th 1806. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Smalecombe, which was dated 1327, in the rolls of Somerset known as 'Kirby's Quest', during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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