Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It is widespread in the northern English counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and is either a topographical name from residence at a winding-house, or an occupational name for a worker or weaver in such an establishment where thread and yarn were wound. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "windan", to wind, with the Olde English or Old Scandinavian "hus", house, an element mostly found in Scandinavian England. 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. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. One Thomas Wyndhouse was entered in the 1431 Register of the Freemen of the City of York, along with William Wyndowes, a weaver. In the modern idiom the name has a number of variant forms ranging from Windas, Windus, Windows and Winders, to Windrus, Windross and Windress. On January 25th 1561, Elin Windresse and Richard Barnes were married at Kirkham, Lancashire, and on January 20th 1615, the christening of Christofer Windress was recorded at St. Peter's, Leeds, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Wyndhows, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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