This interesting and unusual surname is of Germanic origin, and has two possible interpretations, both deriving from a derivative of the German "wald", wood (small forest). In the majority of cases the surname is a topographical name for a "dweller by a wood". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In some instances the surname may also be an occupational name for someone who worked in a wood, for example a woodcutter or forester. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Recordings of the surname from German Church Registers include: the christening of Tonnish, son of Tonnish Wehden, on December 19th 1653 at Bothfeld, Hannover; the marriage of Ilse Weden and Hanss Warncke on October 24th 1659 at Gudow, Schleswig-Holstein; the marriage of Dorothee Wedden and Johann Ziegenbein on February 11th 1666 at Othfresen, Hannover; and the marriage of Johann Wehden and Maria Kohlmetz on October 21st 1853 at Prillwitz, Hecklenburg-Strelitz. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jeane Wedin, which was dated December 28th 1652, marriage to Francois Pesne, at Frankenthan, Pfalz, Bayern, Germany, during the reign of Ferdinand 111, "Holy Roman Emperor", 1635 - 1657. 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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