This rare and interesting surname is of Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been in Berkshire with the component elements being the Old Norse "spann", shingle, wooden tile, with the Olde English "wic", farm, dwelling place; hence "dwelling place with the shingled roof". Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of Katherine, daughter of Thomas Spanswicke, on September 21st 1590 at Inglesham, Wiltshire; the marriage of Agnes Spaynesweeke and John Shilton on October 11th 1591 at Coleshill, Berkshire; and the christening of John, son of Simon Spanswick, in February 1735 at Bighton, Hampshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Spannswicke, which was dated February 1st 1576, witness at a christening at Castle Eaton, Wiltshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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