This interesting and long-established surname is of pre 8th century Anglo-Saxon origin. It is recorded in many spellings including Whitehair, Whitcher, Whittier, Whiter, Whitter, Whityer, and Whicher. The surname has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly it may be an occupational name for a maker of chests deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwicce", chest, with the addition of the agent suffix "-er". In its original sense this described "a man who has to do with", rather than the later meaning of "worker at". Job-descriptive surnames were not originally hereditory. They only became so when a son followed his father into the same work. Early examples of the occupation name include Robert le Wiccher and Robert le Whicchere, noted in the register called "Middle English surnames of occupation", for the counties of Sussex in 1285, and Hampshire in 1333. As the Olde English "wic", meaning a farm, became both "wike" and "wiche" in Middle English, the surname may also be topographical in origin for a dweller at a such a place, the "-er" in this case, implying "dweller at". as in Peter le Wycher of Worcestershire, in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327. Later examples include Thomas Whitcher married at the church of St. Gregory by St. Paul, London in 1617, and and James John Whittier, at the church of St John The Baptist, Shoreditch, London, on May 26th 1872. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wicher, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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