This famous surname is of Olde English and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century origins. It is locational, and usually descends from the town of Washington in County Durham or occasionally from the similarly named village in the county of West Sussex. Both places are recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book, and according to the late Professor Ekwall they both translate as " the settlement of the Wassa people". The word 'wassa' itself means 'hunting'and this suggests logically that in both cases the meaning is "the hunting lodge" or similar. Locational surnames were given firstly to the lord of the manor, and then to people who left the area and took up residence in a new place. Early examples of the surname recording include Robert de Wasshington, in the charters of Lancashire in 1395, and John Washington, in the rolls of the Lancashire Assize court, in 1401. Other examples are those of Laurence Wasshington who in 1567 was recorded as being a student at Oxford University, whilst in 1605 Philip Washington was listed as being a "Freeman of the city of York". John Washington, whose great, great, grandson George was the first President of the United States, emigrated "during the usurpation of England by Oliver Cromwell in 1657". The family were the original owners of Washington in Durham, although they moved south to Northamptonshire in the 16th century. The coat of arms associated with the family is a silver shield with two red bars, in chief three red mullets. The crest being out of a gold ducal coronet, a raven, wings endorsed proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Wassingeton, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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