This is an Anglo-Scottish surname found in many spellings including Taw, Tawse, Tow, Tuff, and Tough. There are arguably three origins. The first is a nickname from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'toh' and describes either someone who was literally tough, vigorous, and stubborn, probably a favoured warrior, or secondly it may be topographical for one who lived at a 'tulach', a steep knoll, whilst the third possibility is as a Gaelic form of Thomas! Certainly from the earliest times the name was well recorded and in Scotland gave rise to the clan known as 'Tough and all that Ilk', originally from Aberdeenshire. The earliest recordings are however from England and some of them certainly suggest that the nameholders lived upto their name! These include Alicia la Towe in Worcester in 1275, and Nicholas le Toghe in the Hundred Rolls of Kent, also for 1275. The first Scottish recording would seem to be that of Henry Toulch, the sheriff of 'Abirdene' in 1361, and Sande Towcht, who was arrested for 'scrabbling others!' Later recordings include Thomas Towe of Westminster on May 10th 1551, Jane Toogg of Stepney on May 1st 1587, William Taus, is given as being a tailor in Dunkeld, Scotland, in 1667. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Towe, which was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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