This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational or a topographical surname denoting residence near "the wash", which is the estuary of the Ouse, Nene, Welland and Witham rivers, or by the River Wash, which flows through Lincolnshire. The Washes were two fordable portions of the estuary between Lincolnshire and Norfolk, and the name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "(ge) waesc", wash, washing movement of the water, used in the sense of a sand-bank or piece of land alternately covered and exposed by the sea, crossable on foot at low tide.The river Wash derives its name from the Olde English "waesse", swamp, used in the sense of water, stream. The surname "Swash" is found almost exclusively in Lincolnshire and Norfolk, and the prefixing of the "s" to the name is peculiar to those counties also; the town of Washingborough in Lincolnshire becomes "Swasynborro" in 1563. One William Swash was married to Agnes Foster at Manby in Lincolnshire on the 9th December 1602. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Swashe, which was dated 27th January 1565, christened at Billinghay, Lincolnshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 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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