This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional name from the county of Wiltshire in south-western England. The placename is recorded as "Wiltunscir" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (870), and as ""Wiltescire" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placename derives from Wilton, once the principal town of the county, with the Olde English pre 7th Century "scir", a district or administrative division. Wilton itself is named from Wil, a shorter form of the river-name Wylye, believed to derive from the obsolete Welsh "qwil" meaning tricky or capricious, with the Olde English "tun", a settlement; hence "settlement on the River Wylye". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in the mid 12th Century (see below) and has many variant spellings ranging from Wiltshear, Wiltsher, Wiltshaw and Wilcher to Willshear and Wilkshire. Nicholas de Wiltesir is noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Wiltshire (1207) and John Wilteshire is listed in the Court Rolls of Hampshire (1298). Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Henry Willshire and Susan Reed on April 18th 1610 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney; the marriage of Raphe Willshire and Anna Yeales on July 29th 1611 at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe; and the marriage of Timothy Willshire and Mary Nichols on June 25th 1632 at St. Faith's. 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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