This very unusual surname is of Old English pre 7th century origins. Like the similar surnames Sweetapple, Sweetgood, Sweetman, and Sweetmouth for example, it is or rather was originally a baptismal name of endearment, meaning much as it seems to mean. The simplest form of such a baptismal name (and later surname) is 'Dear', another example being 'Darling'. All date back to pre medieval times and before the introduction of hereditary surnames. The Norman Conquest of 1066 'killed off' many old 'Saxon' names, it being considered politically correct (nothing has changed) to adopt the French and later Crusader names, such as William, Richard or John. Interestingly the old names that did survive seem to have largely done so in East Anglia Robert Sweteman being recorded in Essex in 1222, Ralph Sweteapple in Bedfordshire in 1309, whilst Margeria Swetelove is slightly earlier, appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1279. Why the names should have survived in East Anglia may have been the influence of the fen country itself. Until the 16th century 'the fens' stretching from Essex to Yorkshire, was a region of uncharted marshes and lakes, unaffected by events elsewhere. The derivation is from 'Swet-lufu', the baptismal name being given to females. Examples of the later church recordings include Elizabeth Sweetlove who married James Barnes at the church of All Hallows, London Wall, on June 9th 1681, and Harriet Sweetlove and William Driver, who followed the Victorian tradition of a Christmas Day marriage in 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Suetluve, which was dated 1179, in the ancient pipe rolls of East Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'the church builder', 1154 - 1189. 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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