Recorded in the spellings of Wheelwright, Wheelright, and originally Whelewryghte, this is a very English occupational surname.Describing a skilled maker of wheeled vehicles and probably members of the ancient Guild of Wheelwrights, it is like Wheelhouse often Yorkshire in origin, and rarely found elsewhere in medieval times. Why this should be so when the development of wheeled vehicles was nationwide, is unclear. Certainly the majority of early recordings are from Englands largest county, and perhaps as York is situated midway between London and Edinburgh, and was the capital city of the north, this geographical siting may have had some influence on the development of the skill of wheel-wrighting.What is certain is that the surname appears at least three times in the Poll Tax registers for the city of York, in the year 1379, when Willelmus Whelewryghte, and what is believed to have been his two brothers Robertus and Johannes, are so recorded. The first known recording though is from the county of Essex. This was Walter Welwryhte, who appears in the Hundred Rolls for that county in the year 1273. This was during the first year of the reign of King Edward 1st of England (1272 - 1307), renowned in some circles for being known as 'The Hammer of the Scots'.
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