Recorded in many forms including Thewles, Thewlis, Thewless, Thouless, Thowless, and the dialectal Fewles and Fewless, this is an English surname. It is or rather was, a medieval nickname for somebody who was considered ill-mannered, or more probably given the robust humour of the medieval period, the complete reverse! It originates from the pre 7th century Olde English phrase "peawleas" from peaw meaning manner, and leas, less. About a quarter of all surnames are considered to be sourced from some nickname, and many seem to have been at best course, and in many cases, very lewd. Most if not all the of the latter, are now either extinct or have had their form changed to such an extent that the origination is lost, but the remainder whose meaning is often rather ambiguous, remain with us, and this is a good example. The name is much associated with the county of Yorksire where most early recordings are to be found, whereas as Thowless the name is mostly associated with Scotland, although the original roots are considered to be the same. Early recording examples include: John Theules in the Manorial Rolls of Wakefield in the year 1327, and Thomas Thewelesse, in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379.
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