Recorded in the spellings of Wildgoose, Willgoss, Wildgress, Willgress and possibly others, this extraordinary surname has an equally extraordinary history. The name derives from the pre 7th century Olde English "wilde - gos", although quite why anybody should be called "wild goose" is not clear. It may have been a nickname for a vigilant watch-keeper, or perhaps somebody who took long journeys abroad. To some extent this is borne out by the Crusader recording of William Wildefuel (Wild fowl) in the 1185 Knight Templar register for Yorkshire. Clearly the name was regarded with some merit, and in its various forms, it has enjoyed popularity over the centuries. The early surname recordings include: John Wylegous in the Poll Tax Rolls for Yorkshire in 1379; Edward Wylgrysse, who married Cecyllya Ryall at St Margarets church, Westminster, on November 2nd 1544, and Daniel Willgress, a witness at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 17th 1688. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Wildegos. This was dated 1201, in the "Curia Regis" rolls of Staffordshire, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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