TOWSE Though Reaney (Dictionary) doesn’t list this name as spelt here, he does list Towes under Tough. The John Towes, freeman of York, 1685, whom he cites was a member of the Towse family of the East Riding.
This family, according to its historian, descended from Thomas Towse who died in 1502, descended from a Somerset family.
“In 1536-7 Thomas Toox, possibly a member of the Towse family, had a lease of six bovates of the priory’s land.” J.D. Purdy, Victoria County History, East Riding, vol ii. This was Watton Priory.
“The Towses were buying land in Garton in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and it descended in several branches of the family.” ibid.

Isabella Toust, daughter of Christopher Toust, baptised at Winestead, January 1597. There is a Christopher Towse, a younger brother of John Towse of Garton, who was living at this time.
John Towse in Holmpton, 1737.
John Tows in Owthorne, 1815.
(These three notices from Miles and Richardson’s “A History of Withernsea”. Perhaps a South Holderness branch of the Garton Towses.)
In Hull the name appears in the tax assessments of 1695, though perhaps not yet firmly rooted in the town.
Francis Towse married Tamar Calvert at Holy Trinity Hull in 1846, by which date the surname was established in Hull.
Private Frederick Towse and Corporal Harold Towse, Hull men serving with the East Yorkshire Regiment, gave their lives in World War I (Golden Book of World War One Casualties)

The Garton Towses are traceable down to the end of the 18th century in the pedigree compiled by Clive Towse. He also furnishes some details of the origins of the family and a suggested meaning of the surname –
“The family had first risen to local prominence in Taunton as cloth dyers and wool merchants in the late fifteenth century and it is significant that the surname, which during this period is occasionally spelt Toose, means a carder of wool.” (Clive Towse, “An Account of an Estate in Garton, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Property of the Towse Family, 1537-1800, with a note on the Somerset branch of the family.” Privately printed, 1980)

With reference to Reaney’s suggestion of origin in the word togh meaning “steadfast, stubborn”, I think it ought to be pointed out that Tough is a Scottish surname, from an Aberdeenshire place name, which derives from the Gaelic tulach, meaning “hill”.


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