Unstead

Unstead - what does Unstead surname mean?

This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. It may be of topographical origin given to someone who lived by a building or place where hounds were kept, from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements `hund`, dog, and `stede, styde`, a place, building or in Northern counties, a farm. However, the surname may have also derived from some minor, unrecorded or lost place, which has long since disappeared from maps, although its existence is confirmed by the surname. Unsted Park is a seat near Godalming in Surrey. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and the widespread practice of enforced `clearing` and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards. The lost village is believed to have been sited in south east England, probably Sussex. Early recordings include: the christening of John Unsted at Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1594; the christening of James, son of John Unsted, on March 14th 1601, also at Eastbourne; the christening of Richard Unstead at Eastbourne on August 20th 1643; and the marriage of Samuel Unstead and Martha Brown on November 7th 1776, at Oxted in Surrey. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Naomi Unsted, which was dated February 7th 1589, marriage to Henry Willard, at Eastbourne, in Sussex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as `Good Queen Bess`, 1558 - 1603. 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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