Recorded in a surprising number of spellings including Soth, Sother, Sotheron, Southers, Southern, South, Soutt, Soot, Soots, Sowte, Sute and Zute (!), this ancient English surname is residential. It describes someone who came from 'the south'. This may have been the south of England, but just as likely was simply 'the south of the village'. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'suth' meaning 'south, similar regional surnames being North, East and West. In the period after the 1066 Norman Invasion through to the end of feudalism in the Middle Ages, people were not encouraged to travel.Those few that did and particularly when they stayed, were given as easy identification the name of the place or region from whence they came, and this became their surname. Spelling being primitive and local accents 'thick' led to many variant forms of the same name. In this case early recordings include Robert de Sotherun in 1243 and Isabella South in the 1297 "Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall", Henry Le Suthereen in the 1325 Court Rolls of Suffolk, and William del South of Yorkshire in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls. Other recordings include John Sute, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, in 1564, James Zute, who married Elizabeth Curzon at St Giles Cripplegate in 1565, and Thomas Soote, christened at St Dunstans on October 19th 1645. Edward Lytton Sothern, (1856 - 1887) was probably the first actor to have a world wide reputation.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 Devonshire. This was during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307.
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