This unusual and interesting name has a number of possible sources; firstly, it may be of Old Breton origin, from the ancient personal name "Wiucon, Uuicon", composed of elements meaning "worthy", and "high", noble, which was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. Secondly, it may derive from another personal name, also introduced by the Normans, the Old Germanic "Wigant"; this was originally a byname or nickname meaning "Warrior", derived from the verb "wigan", to fight.These two personal names had effectively fallen together by the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, where one "Wighen" is recorded in Cambridgeshire. Radulfus filius (son of) Wigein is listed in the Leicestershire Pipe Rolls of 1163, and Wygan le Breton appears in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1252. Lastly, the surname may be locational in origin, from the town of Wigan in Lancashire, recorded as "Wigan" in the Lancashire Pipe Rolls of 1199. The place is believed to be so called from the original owner of the settlement, who was named with one of the personal names discussed above. Early examples of the surname include John Wygen (1297, Cornwall), and Willelmus de Wygan (1379, Yorkshire), and among recordings from Cheshire Registers are those of the marriage of Christopher Wigan and Jonie Astlay, at Great Harwood, Lancashire, on June 12th 1572, and the christening of John, son of Humphrey, Wigan, on December 11th 1650, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wygeyn, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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