This interesting surname of usually French origins, is recorded in over fifty different spelling forms. These range for the traditional Guy, Guye, and Guyon, to Why, Whye and Wyon, to Guido, Ghi, Gyde, Guet, Guidini and Ghidoli, and recorded in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. However spelt and in whatever nationality, the surname shares the same origins. These are that firstly it may be an occupational name for a professional guide, a very important role in the ancient times when existing maps were not to be trusted if they existed at all, and signposts or marker stones, equally erratic. This derivation is from the pre 10th century Old French word "gui" meaning a professional guide, an example being John le Gy, in the Subsidy Rolls of Essex, England, in the year 1327. Secondly the name may derive from the personal name 'Guy', a French name of the 10th century, but one derived from the Germanic "Wido", of uncertain meaning. Thirdly the surname may derive from the Old High German word "witu" and the Old English pre 7th century "widu" or "wudu", meaning a wood, and therefore occupational for one living by such a place. The baptismal name in the forms Wi, Why, and Guy, was very popular with the Norman-French, and these were reflected in the later English spellings of Guye, Whye, etc. Examples of the surname spelling taken from authentic records include Richard Guye, recorded in the London Rolls of 1384, and Guido Guidonis, at Birwinken im Thrugau, Germany, in 1390. One of the earliest settlers to the new colonies of America was William Guy, aged 18 years, who on 2nd January 1634, sailed from London, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Richard Wi, which was dated 1188. This was in the "Pipe Rolls" of the county of Oxfordshire, England, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 -- 1189. 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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