This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name either from residence near a wet patch of ground, or for someone who lived by a willow tree. The derivation, in the first instance, is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wet", wet, found as an initial element in such placenames as Wetton in Staffordshire translating as "the wet hill" (Olde English "dun", hill); Wettenhall in Cheshire, meaning "the wet nook" (Olde English "halh", nook, recess), and Wetwang in East Yorkshire, which has as its second element the Olde English "wang", field, plain. The derivation in the second case, is from the Olde English "withthe" (Middle English "wythe"), a willow tree. Topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages, thus giving rise to a great many early surnames. The name, with variant spellings Wete and Wette, is particularly well recorded in English Church Registers from the early 16th Century (see below). On October 21st 1565, Thomas Wete and Elizabeth Stevenson were married at St. Andrew's, Enfield, London, and on February 7th 1620, the marriage of Thomas Weth to Frances Sheppe took place at St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Wete, which was dated November 24th 1539, marriage to Jone (surname not noted), at Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire, 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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