This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a metonymic occupational name for a baker of the finer sorts of bread, deriving from the Middle English "whit", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwit" meaning white, or the Middle English "whete", a development of the Olde English "hwaete", wheat, plus the Middle English "bred", from the Olde English "bread" meaning bread. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary.The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include Roger Wythbred (1254 - 1267) in the Chartulary of the Monastery of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, and Robert Whetbred (1327) in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. London Church Records list the christening of William, son of William Whitbread, on December 1st 1577 at St. Dionis Backchurch, and of Samuel, son of Mathew Whitbread, on July 3rd 1603 at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney. A Coat of Arms granted to a Whitbread family is silver, a horse between three red hinds' heads erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Witbred, which was dated 1221, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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