Recorded as Suinhouse, Sounhouse, Sownes, Sounness, and Souness, this is a famous but quite rare, Scottish surname. It is locational and probably originates from a place in ancient times called 'Sun-hlaw' and now Sunilaw, in the Scottish Borders, near to the town of Coldstream. The name means the south hill, or just possibly the sunny hill, and although it may seem to be wide of the mark, we do believe that this surname which has continually changed its spelling over the past five centuries, has this or a very similar origin. Locational surnames are very prone to transposition since by their very nature they are 'from' names. That is to say surnames generally given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of 'sounds like' names, often far removed from the original forms. In this case we have recordings from the Scottish registers and charters such as those of Thomas Suinhouse of Blainsleyis in 1608, John Sownhous of Blainslie in 1660, William Sownes of Aberdeenshire in 1696, whilst one Adam Souness is recorded as dying at Ormiston, near Edinburgh in 1939.
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