Recorded in many spellings all of which have much the same meaning, such as South, Southon, Southern, Southerton, Southam, etc, this is a medieval English surname. It is either locational for someone who lived at the Sussex village of Southerton, or topographic for someone who lived to the south of a main settlement, or sometimes descriptive for someone who had migrated from the south to another part of the country. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "suth" meaning "south", plus usually "tun", a single house, or hamlet, or later a village. Early examples of the surname taken from authentic registers and charters include Isabella South in the 1297 "Minister's Acounts of the Earldom of Cornwall", Roger del South and Johannes de Sowth in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, and Hugh de Soteran, of Derby, in 1327. Later examples taken from church registers include on November 15th 1663, Elizabeth, the daughter of Christopher and Margrett Southon, was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, London and Edward, son of Edward and Mary Southen, was christened on October 19th 1675, at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de la Sothe, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Devon, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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