Recorded as Townrow, Towndrow, Toundrow, Tondrow and perhaps others, this is an English medieval surname. It is residential and denotes residence at the "town row", a row of cottages usually near the centre of a town. The derivation is from the pre 7th century word "raw", and the prefix "tun," meaning a settlement. The surname may also be locational from a hamlet near Rotherfield in Sussex, called Town Row, whilst there are examples of streets called Townrow in many old towns. Before Tudor times houses were generally of wattle and lathe and liable to catch fire, so most were built detached. Later when stone or brick became the staple material it became easier, cheaper and generally more efficient to build in rows, and later in terraces, which were extended rows. The "d" where it occurs in some surname spellings was dialectal and an aid to pronunciation in some parts of the country. Examples of recordings include Henry Townrow, also recorded as Townerow, in the register of students at Oxford University in 1557, whilst on August 4th 1669 Jeames Towndrow was christened at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and on September 16th 1801 James Tondrow married Hannah Hicke at Chelmsford, in Essex. A coat of arms associated with the name has the blazon of a red shield charged with a cross ermine between four gold lozenges. 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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