Recorded as Westoff, Westover and Westofer, this is an English surname. It is medieval, but its origins are probably pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon or Olde English. It is one of a group of surnames from place names which are descriptive compounds. Deriving either from the placename of Westover, or topographically from the term 'west off', it literally describes a hamlet or farm "to the west" meaning to the west of the main village. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley stated that (quote) "Westover is a tithing in the parish of Wherwell, near Andover, in Hampshire".Presumably then Wherwell was the main centre for the area, and possibly the seat of the lord of the manor. In areas under Viking influence similar systems applied. A "torp" described an outlying farm or settlement, whilst a "bi" was as small as a single farm. Locational surnames such as this were originally given either to the lord of the manor, if there was one, or as seems to be the case here, to former villagers and tenants who left the village and moved elsewhere.Judging by the first recording shown below, they were going "elsewhere" from quite an early date. Examples of the surname recording include - William Westofer who married Alice Younger in London in 1572, and James Westoff, a student at Oxford University in the year 1602. The first known recording is that of William Westovere, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Somerset, in the year 1273.
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