This interesting surname is an occupational name for a "white-leather dresser" deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "whit" meaning white plus "taw(i)er" to taw. Tawing is to convert skins into white leather be treatment with mineral salts, such as alum and salt, rather that the normal tanning processes. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th Century, (see below). Noted in the 1279, Hundred Rolls are Thomas le Wyte were, Cambridgeshire, and Eustace le Wittowere, Huntingdonshire. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Whittier, Whittear, Whitehair, Whithear, etc.. Recordings of the surname from the London church registers include; William, son of William and Alice Whitear, who was christened on December 19th 1686, at St. Anne Soho, Westminster; on January 23rd 1693, Thomas Whitear married Mary Roswell at St. Mary, St. Marylebone Road; the marriage of John Whitear to Elizabeth Price took place on February 26th 1733, at St. James, Clerkenwell; and Thomas Whitear married Hannah Atkinson on February 23rd 1779, at St. Mary le Bow. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Norman Wittowiere, which was dated 1224, The History of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, during the reign of King Henry 111, "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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