This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and can be either a locational or a topographical surname. As the former, the name derives from the place called Smallwood, near Astbury in Cheshire. The placename is recorded in the Charter Rolls of Cheshire of 1252 as 'Smaleuuod', and means 'the narrow wood', from the Old English pre 7th Century 'smael', narrow, small, with 'wudu', wood. Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. As a topographical surname, Smallwood denoted residence by or in such a 'narrow wood'. The development of the surname includes: John del Smalwode (1332, London) and Elizabetha Smallwode (1379, Yorkshire). Records of will lodged in Chester (1545 - 1620) include that of one Randle Smallwood, of Middlewich, in 1592. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Smalwud, which was dated 1220, The Essex Curia Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 111, 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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