This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be a topographical name for a "dweller by the site of the well", deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wella", a well, with "stede", a place or site. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Secondly, the surname may be a locational name from Wellshead, near Exford, Somerset. The placename derives from the Olde English "wella", well, spring, stream, and "heafod", head, source; hence, "source or upper end of the stream". Locational names 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. Walter atte Wellesheuede is listed in the "Studies on Middle English Local Surnames", Somerset (1327). The surname can also be found as Wellstead, Welsted, Wellstood, Welstead, Willstead and Willsteed. On August 21st 1755, Rowland Burons, son of Rowland and Eleanor Wellsteed, was christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a black cross crosslet fitchee on a silver bend, on a red shield; the Crest is out of a gold mural coronet a dexter hand proper, vested black, holding a sword-blade wavy also proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Wellested, which was dated 1305, in "The Calendar of Letter Books", Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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