Recorded as Websdell, Websdale and Webdale, this is an English surname. It is locational from a now "lost" medieval village believed to have been in the East Anglia region. Seven thousand villages and hamlets have disappeared from British maps since the 15th Century, owing to natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and later to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing", and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures. The place name itself appears to have been composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name Weobba, and "-dael", a valley; hence, "Weobba's valley". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their village name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname is widespread in the Norfolk and Suffolk area and examples include the marriage of John Websdell and Margerie Pullen on January 5th 1631, at St. John Timberhill, Norwich, and the marriage of William Websdale to Anne Ruddram on November 10th 1675, at St. Mary in the Marsh, Norwich. An earlier example is that of Thomas Webdale, which was dated December 12th 1619, a christening witness at St. Michael's Stamford, in Lincolnshire, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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