This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is a topographical surname denoting residence by a place where the species of plant called 'spurge' grew in abundance. The name derives from the Middle English word 'spurge', developed from the Old French 'espurge', and describes the species of plants characterised by an acrid milky juice possessing medicinal properties. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of medieval England. The name is found recorded mainly in the Eastern counties of England. One Mary Spurge married Henery Hinell at All Saints, The Pavement, York, on December 9th 1686. The variant form 'Spowage' is a late development, from a phonetically spelt dialectal form. James, son of John and Mary Spowage, was christened at Dorrington in Lincolnshire on March 1st 1835. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Margaret Spurge (marriage to George Selly), which was dated September 22nd 1572, Mersham, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, '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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