This curious and rare name, found mainly in Yorkshire, is of early medieval English origin, and derives from a distinguishing name for someone who was related in some way to a bearer of the male given name "Wat(t)". The latter was very popular in medieval Britain, and is a short form of Walter, the male personal name introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066 in the forms "Walt(i)er" and "Waut(i)er", adopted from the Old Germanic name composed of the elements "wald", rule, with "heri, hari", army. The second element of the surname Watmough is derived from the Middle English term "maugh, mough", used of various relatives, normally those connected by marriage rather than by blood, so that the surname is often taken to mean "Wat's brother-in-law", but may also refer to another relative of either sex. Other examples of this type of name in Yorkshire and Lancashire are Hickmott or Hitchmough, and William Robertmogh, recorded in Lancashire in 1332. One Myles Watmough was recorded as vicar of Medomsley, Durham, in 1582. The modern surname forms are W(h)atmough, W(h)atmaugh, W(h)atmuff and Whar(t)mouth. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts three green branches of wheat on a silver shield; the Crest is a black ferret passant collared gold, lined red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Watmaghe, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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