Recorded as Foden, Fowden, Vowden and Vowdon, this is a famous English surname. It is locational and probably from a place called Foden Bank in the township of Sutton, in the parish of Prestbury, Cheshire. The place name derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'fode', meaning to feed or graze, plus 'denu', a valley, hence the valley used for grazing. The surname is particularly well recorded in both the county of Cheshire, in the diocese of Greater London, and with the "V" prefix in Devonshire. Locational surnames are by their nature 'from' names. That is to say surnames given to people as easy identification after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. In so doing the name spelling was often changed and particularly so where the prefix letters "f" and "v" were concerned. As an example fens are found in East Anglia and the north of the country, but in the West Country they are Ven(n)s. Recordings taken from early surviving church registers of the various areas include Margarett Foden and Roger Spurstowe who were married at St. Mary's Woolnoth, in the city of London on October 25th 1565, Hugh Fowden who married Margearye Stubbs at Prestbury Church, Cheshire on May 15th 1568, Jane Vowdon at Hatherleigh, Devon, on February 9th 1637, and John Vowden the son of Stephen Vowden, who was christened at Sheepwash, also in Devonshire, on December 17th 1735. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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