This interesting and long-established surname, with variant spellings Wilsher, Wilcher, Wilshire, Wiltshe(a)r and Wilshaw, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional name from the county of Wiltshire in south western England. Recorded as "Wiltunscir" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, dated 870, and as "Wiltescire" in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name derives from Wilton, once the principal town of the county, and the Olde English pre 7th Century "scir", a district or administrative division. Wilton, itself is named from the Olde English "tun", a settlement, and "Wil", a shorter form of the river-name "Wylye", believed to derive from the obsolete Welsh "gwil", meaning "tricky" or "capricious"; hence, "settlement on the river Wylye". The surname was first recorded in the mid 12th Century, and other early recordings include: Nicholas de Wiltesir, who appeared in the 1207 Curia Regis Rolls of Wiltshire, and Thomas Wylshere, who was recorded as a witness in the 1483 Fine Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire. On July 22nd 1543, Elizabeth Wilsher and Richard Smyth were married in Twickenham, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is described thus: "Per chevron blue and gold, in chief six crosses crosslet of the second. Crest - A lion rampant red maned proper." The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hunfr' de Wilechier, which was dated 1157, in the "Pipe Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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