This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be an English locational name from Keyworth, a place near Nottingham, which appeared as "Caworde" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Kaworda", recorded in the "Placenames of Nottinghamshire". The placename itself is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "caeg", projection, key, and "-worth", enclosure, settlement. It may also be an occupational name for a keeper of keys, from the Olde English "caeg", key, and "weard", a ward, guardian. The surname itself first appears in the late 16th Century (see below), while one Katharina, daughter of Attawell Kawearde, was christened on January 14th 1598 at Claypole in Lincolnshire. One John Keyworth, son of Gervace Keyworth, was christened on September 4th 1608 at the Church of All Saints, South Leverton, in Nottinghamshire, and Margaret Keward married William Gardiner on September 19th 1627 at the Church of St. Gregory by St. Paul, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Keward, which was dated April 9th 1591, a christening witness at St. Michael's, Stamford, in Lincolnshire, 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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