Recorded as Willavise, Willavize, Willavoys and others, this is believed to be an English surname and a development of something else. The city of London registers of 1738 record John Willessey at St Dunstans Stepney, on December 4th 1737 whilst in 1801 a Thomas Willavise marrying a lady called Parnell Lane at the famous Church of St. Martins in the Field, Westminster. In 1813 William Fortunatus Willavies, what would seem to be another spelling is recorded on September 19th of that year, at St. Mary-Le-Bone. The question is from where did these people originate? It is our opinion that the surname is a dialectal spelling of a "lost" medieval village such as Wivelesleia. This place is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire in 1198. An alternative is from Walesby, a Nottingham village, the surname also being found as Willsey and Wellesley. If so the meaning is probably "The farm amongst the willows", or just possibly "William's farm". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert de Walesby. This was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire", 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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