This interesting and most unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from a place so called in Devonshire, which derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Willa", a short form of the various compound names containing the first element "will", will, desire, and the Olde English "cot, cote", a cottage, dwelling, or it could also means a shelter for animals, especially sheep. However, the name may also be Cornish, composed of the initial Cornish element "melyn", a mill and the second element "cot", wood, or the Olde English "cot", as above; hence, the mill by the wood, or the mill cottage. Vellacott is thus a dialectal variant of this topographical surname, given to a dweller by the mill near the cottage or wood. Early recordings in Devonshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Petronyll Valacot and William Lynnynge on October 17th 1540, at St. Petrock's, Exeter; the christening of Mathew, son of Thomas Vellacott on May 16th 1543, at North Motton; and the marriage of William Vellacote and Margret Wheake on August 18th 1555, at Braunton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Vellacott, which was dated July 26th 1539, marriage to Johane Hencok, at North Molton, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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