Recorded as Weather, Whether, Wither and the patronymics Weathers, Wethers, Withers, and others, this is an English surname. It has absolutely nothing to do with the weather, but was an occupational name for a shepherd. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "wether" meaning a male sheep, and is first recorded as a surname in the latter half of the 12th Century, (see below), making it one of the earliest of all known surnames. Occupatrional surnames whilst amongst the first to be created, did not become hereditary until or unless a close relative, usually a son, followed the father into the same line of skill or business. The growing textile industry of England in medieval times provided many opportunities and requirements, of which this was one. Amongst the early recordings is that of William le Wether in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of the county of Essex in 1327. The surname is well recorded in the surviving church reisters of the city of London Church from the mid 16th Century, and examples include that on January 28th 1550 of Elizabeth Withers, christened at St. Martin Orgar Eastcheap, whilst on November 5th 1714, Elizabeth Weathers and Thomas Green were married at St. Dunstan's Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Almer Wether. This was dated 1180, in the Pipe Rolls of Kent, during the reign of King Henry IInd, known as the builder of Churches, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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