This is a rare and unusual English surname. It is recorded as Willaway, Willoughway, Willoway and possibly others. The surname spelling suggests a village whose name means "The road through the willows". Unfortunately we have not been able to find any such place, which suggests that either it is now one of the three thousand or so places which have disappeared from the maps and gazetters of the British Isles over the past five centuries, or the name spelling either of the place itself or the surname has changed to the point where it is no longer recognized. As to why so many places have "disappeared" has been the subject of several books, but a combination of urbanisation, land enclosure, and sheep farming are the usual suspects, whilst war, coastal erosion, and the various Great Plagues have had walk on parts to play. Furthermore most locational surnames are "from" names. Those were surnames given to people after they left their original villages to live somewhere else, as easy identification. Spelling being best indifferent lead to the creation of "sounds like" spellings. In this case the surname is recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London on December 13th 1682 when Sarah Willoway married John Sharpe at St James, Dukes Place, Westminster, and over a century later we have that of Richard Willoughway who was a christening witness at St Pauls Covent Garden, on November 10th 1805.
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