This most interesting surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be an English locational name from a place called "Southernden", a locality in the Hollingbourne rural district of Kent. It may also however be of English topographical origin, for "a dweller in the southern pasture, swine pasture". Both of these interpretations are of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century words "suth", Middle English "s(o)uth", south and "denn", meaning a pasture or swine-pasture, which is a common placename element in Kent and Sussex, and generally denotes an old pasture. Early examples of the surname include: the christening of William, son of Robert Sotherden, on February 21st 1563 at Biddenden, Kent; the christening of John, son of Richard Sutherden, on November 1st 1635 at East Farleigh, in Kent; the marriage of Steven Southerden and Judith Tharpe on July 28th 1640 at Teuterden; and the marriage of John Sutherden and Mary Wickens on May 24th 1774 at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Sotherden, which was dated July 19th 1561, a christening witness, at Biddenden, in Kent, 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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