This name, with variant spelling Southward, is of English locational origin from a place in Cheshire (formerly south Lancashire) called Southworth. Recorded as Suthewrthe in the 1212 "Fine Court Rolls of Lancashire", the name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "Suth" meaning "south", plus "worth", an enclosure round a homestead. The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 13th Century, (see below). One, Thomas Southworth of Winwick, Lancashire, was entered in "The Oxford University Register" in 1587, and in 1591 a John Southworth, Lancashire, appears in the above register. Henry Southworth, of Witton, "Yeoman", was recorded in the Wills Records as Chestershire in 1599, and on May 2nd 1679 Francis Southworth embarked from London on the ship "Prosperous" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Southworthe, witness, which was dated 1281 - "The Assize Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of Edward I, 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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