This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from a now "lost" place, one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have disappeared from the maps in Britain. 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 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, also contributed to lost village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been in Devonshire, and the name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "stede" meaning place of worship, plus "worthig" enclosure. Church Records list the christenings of Richard, son of John and Elizabeth Stidworthy, on July 26th 1758, in Modbury, Devonshire, and of John, son of Joseph and Agnes Stidworthy, on May 22nd 1791, in Totnes, Devonshire. Louise Stidworthy married Alexander Brodie Melville, on April 6th 1870, at St. Andrew's , Marylebone Road, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anthony Stidworthy, which was dated 11th May 1690, witness to the christening of his daughter Alice, in Malborough, Devonshire, during the reign of King William 111 of Orange and England, 1689 - 1702. 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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