Recorded as Wager and sometimes Wagger, this is apparently a surname of English origins. It is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London from at least Elizabethan times, and earlier in Yorkshire. There are a number of surnames which commence with the pre 7th century Olde English word 'wag' such as Waghorn, given to a hornblower or Wagstaff, for whom a number of possible meanings have been given, all like Shakespeare, probably a suggestive nickname. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880 suggests that this surname is occupational for a person who either paid out wages or who was paid a fixed sum as a wage.He quotes from some very early examples of the surname recording such as Willelmus Wagur who with his his wife Cecilla, appears in the famous Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1379. However this Willelmus is described as being a 'smyth', which does not advance the meaning of this surname. The first known use of the word as 'wager' is in the 14th century when it described a pledge to pay money. The Oxford English dictionary describes it as an Anglo-French word, and it may infer that a 'wager' was a semi-legal person who arranged pledges or early mortgages.
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