The surname of SOWDER was a locational name, dweller in the valley where sows were kept, or in the south downs. Also one who played the part of a sultan in the pageants and acted in an outlandish and autocratic manner. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. Early records of the name mention Robert le SOWDEN of County Berkshire, in 1279. Walter de SUDDEN of County Somerset was documented in the year 1327. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. A later instance of the name mentions Walter de SUDDON, who was recorded in County Somerset during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Other variations of the name are SOWDON, SOUDON, SODEN and SULTAN.
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