This interesting surname, widely recorded in Devonshire Church Registers from the early 16th Century under the variant spellings Witherdon, Wetherdon, and Whetherdon, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places in southern England named with the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "wither", wether or male sheep, and "denn", pasture. These places include Witherdon, east of Ashwater, in Devonshire; Withersdane near Wye in Kent, and Wetherden, north-west of Stowmarket in Suffolk. "Denn" was widespread as a second element of placenames in the Kent and Sussex Weald district, and it is often difficult to distinguish names ending in "-denn" from those ending in "-denu", the latter element meaning "a dene" or "valley". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently gave rise to variations in the spelling of the name. On September 27th 1585, Elizabeth Witherden, an infant, was christened at St. Laurence, Thanet, Kent, and on July 1st 1599, the christening of Joanna Weatherdon took place in Bovey Tracey, Devonshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is silver with three gold catherine wheels on a blue chevron. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johis Weatherdon, which was dated 1539, witness at a christening at Bovey Tracey, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff 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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