This extraordinary name has an equally extraordinary history. It is in its modern form a shortened variant of the medieval "Wild Goose", and derives from the Olde English "wilde - gos", of the pre 7th Century. Quite why anybody should be called "wild goose" is not clear, but it may be a nickname for a vigilant watch-keeper or somebody who took long journeys abroad. To some extent this is borne out by the Crusader recording of William Wildefuel in the 1185 Knight Templar Rolls for Yorkshire. Clearly the name was regarded with some merit, and in its various forms it has enjoyed popularity over the centuries. The name recordings include the following examples: John Wylegous in the Poll Tax Rolls for Yorkshire in 1379; Thomas Wildegose, christened on April 14th 1594, at St. John's Church, Hackney; whilst William Willgoss is recorded at Christ Church, Stepney, on February 18th 1787, in the reign of George 111 (1760 - 1820). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Wildegos, which was dated 1201, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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