This interesting and rare name is of Medieval English origin and is a dialectal variant of either of two locational names, Watendlath in Cumberland and Walton in Yorkshire. The earliest recording of Watendlath is in the Coucher Book of Furness Abbey of 1210 as "Wattintundelan", and as "Wathenthendelau" in 1211. Watend is derived from the Old Norse "vatn-endi", lake end. Watton in Yorkshire is first recorded in Bede's Ecclesiastical History circa 730 as "Vetadun", and circa 890 as "Waetadun" and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Watun", and the derivation is from the Old English "weta", wet and "dun", a hill or in this instance, a slight rise. Amongst the sample recordings in Cumberland is the marriage of one Thomas Wathen and Margaret Ashbridge on June 15th 1670 at Caldeck. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ann Wathen, which was dated January 12th 1616, St. Giles, Cripplegate, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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