Recorded in several forms including Thaw, Thew, Thews, Thow and possibly others, this is an early English medieval surname. It has two possible origins, both ultimately from other lands. The first is an ancient pre 7th century status name derived from the Norse word "thewar," meaning a bondsman. This was a young male possibly the son of a knight, who served a lord or chief in the capacity of being responsible for his horse, weapons and armour, and was often rewarded by being promoted firstly to the rank of squire, and later perhaps having proved himself probably in battle, becoming a knight, in his own right. The second possible origin is as a short or nickname form of the Hebrew name "Matthew", introduced into Europe in the 12th century by returning Crusader Knights and pilgrims from the Holy Land. Matthew translates as "Gift of God", and perhaps not surprisingly was in medieval times and remains so today, a very popular male personal name. As a surname it has generated over one hundred alternative spellings, of which this in some cases, may be one. Examples of the early recordings taken at random from surviving records include Johanna Thow in the charters of the county of Derbshire in 1348, Edward Thew, who married Mary Carnon on July 25th 1639, at St. Giles Cripplegate in the city of London, and Elizabeth Thaw, who married Marmaduke Nelson, at Kirkgate, Leeds, in the county of Yorkshire, on May 11th 1657. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Thewe. This was dated 1190, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard Ist, known as 'Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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