This most interesting and curious surname has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from Wadlow, a lost place in Toddington, Bedfordshire, which is one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from maps in Britain. The Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population died, and the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century on, were the main contributing factors of the lost village phenomenon.The placename itself is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "wad", woad, a plant whose leaves yield a powerful blue dye, widely used in the Middle Ages, or the personal name "Wada", the name of a legendary sea-giant, plus "hlaw", a hill. Wadlow, however, may be a variant of Waddow, a locational name from a place in Yorkshire, meaning "Wada's hoh" ("hoh", a projecting ridge of land). Edmund Waddelowe married Elizabelt Wood on October 10th 1565, at Fincham, Norfolk, while Ann, daughter of Franncis Wadlow, was christened on January 26th 1616, at St. Andrew Undershaft, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Wadelaw, which was dated 1212, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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