There are a number of apparently ferocious English medieval surnames which have the prefix Wild, Wilde or Wyld. These include Wildblood, Wildbore, Wildgoose and in this case Wildman. The dictionaries of surnames all give a similar translation in effect that the name refers to a wild or untamed person, one to put it mildly, was hardly civilised! And indeed this may be so in some cases. It for instance difficult to imagine that anybody called Wildbore failed to live upto the image of a seriously fierce animal with tusks, charging through the undergrowth, and attacking anybody that came into its ground.Yet medieval nicknames and nicknames today are given for all manner of reasons, not the least being that in some cases atleast, they mean the very opposite of what they appear to say. The problem is that unless one was present when the name was given out, it is quite impossible, seven centuries later, to give an exact meaning. What we do know from surviving recordings is that John Wildeman appears in the London Close Rolls in the time of King Richard 11nd (1377 - 1399) and Willelmus Wyldman in the Poll Tax register for the county of Yorkshire in 1379.
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