NAMES THAT CATCH MY ATTENTION (3)

SPOWAGE someone of this name was on my TV today, a Scots lady. I’d never heard the name before but I didn’t think it looked Scottish. Still one never knows.
I checked the literature and found an entry in John Titford’s “Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames” (2009). The following words are his.

A distinctive surname, one that has been ignored by compilers of surname dictionaries, and one which seems determined to elude capture. The suffix -age is a familiar enough element in place-names, though no place called Spowedge, Spowich, or the like comes readily to hand. It might alternatively suggest a French origin, but no such name is featured in French surname dictionaries. The existence of an obscure and now obsolete dialect term spouch (used of wood which is sappy), which is confined to Norfolk and Suffolk, may only be of passing interest. One theory has it that the origin may be a topographical term for a man who dwelt in a place where a plant known as spurge (O[ld] F[rench] espurge), characterized by an acrid milk juice possessing medicinal properties grew in abundance. The surname Spurge can be found in parish register entries as early as the sixteenth century in Berks, Essex, London, Leics, Norfolk and Surrey. But Spowage is a different kettle of fish: by the time of the 1881 census it was very much a Notts surname, a concentration reinforced by an examination of parish register entries, where Notts predominates once again, putting a handful of Derbys and Yorks references in the shade.

The fact that five individuals in the 1881 census named Spourge are living in Notts (four) and Derbys (one) might take us back to a Spurge surname after all?
Spowages alive today have the good fortune to be the proud possessors of an intriguing surname, but the bad fortune to be uncertain of its exact origins

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