Recorded in the spellings of Wellstead and Wellstood, this is a English medieval locational name. This would not in itself pose a problem, except that no such place as Wellstead exists! Clearly it must have done at sometime, and the eminent Victorian etymologist Canon C W Bardsley placed "Wellstead" in Somerset, whilst admitting that he was unsure. What is certain is that the original place name was Olde English pre 10th century,the derivation being from "Stede" a house or farm, and "waella" a spring or fresh water. It would seem that some catastrophe must have struck the village, causing the inhabitants to evacuate quickly, because the name today and for the past three hundred years is far better recorded in London than anywhere else. The early recording examples include Henrie Welstod, who married Catherine Clarke at St James Church, Clerkenwell, on June 16th 1608, Elizabeth Wellstead, christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on November 29th 1694, and William Wellstood, who married Mary Jenner, at St Dunstans Church, Stepney, on November 23rd 1802. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anne Welstead, which was dated June 28th 1576, married William Cowell at St Dunstans, Stepney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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