Recorded in a number of spellings including Whithead, Whitehed, Whithed, and Whitsed, this surname is of English origins. It usually derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hwit" meaning white, plus "heafod", a head, combined to form a descriptive nickname for someone with white hair. Many early surnames originate from medieval nicknames, and this is one of them. With men generally dying at about age forty, and women even younger, people with white hair were quite rare. Early recordings of the surname include Roger Witheved, who appeared in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire, dated 1273, and Adam Whytehevde of Hoton, who was a juror on an inquisition before the sheriff of Berwick in 1300. In 1338 Robert Whitede was recorded in the Manorial Records of Sheffield, Yorkshire. Occasionally, the name may derive from "Hwithod", meaning white hood, and an occupational name for one who made white hoods for use in monasteries. An early example is that of Agnes Wythod recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, for 1279. Finally, but more rarely, the name may be locational from residence on a chalky headland, as in Henry de Whiteheved, of Cornwall, in 1297. Recordings from surviving early London registers include: the marriage of John Whitehead and Margret Malwins on August 13th 1564, Srah Whithed, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, on October 13th 1643, and Richard Whitshead, who married Alice Rye at St James Paddington, on October 4th 1783. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Whithaved. This was dated 1219, in the "Pipe Rolls" of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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