This is an English surname of ancient origins. It is a rare survival of a pre 7th century personal name from the times before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Subsequently the introduction of Continental names, such as William, Richard and Henry, and later Christian names such as Peter, Thomas and John, led to the almost total disappearance of native given names. In this instance, however, the surname in its many spellings including Winspear, Winspeare, Winspar, Winspare, Winspire and Winspurr, have survived. All derive from the elements "wynn", meaning joy, or "wine", a friend, and the suffix "spere", a spear or lance. Examples of the surname, found in all areas of the country, but particularly the northern counties, include: Ralph Wynspare (1561, Hertfordshire); Thomas Winspire (1592, Yorkshire); Ann Wynspurr (1627, Durham); John Winspeare (1636, Devonshire); and Bridget Winspiere (1656, London). The following are recordings from church registers: the marriage of Rowland Winsper and Alice Catterige on October 27th 1629, at Hurworth-on-Tees, County Durham, and the marriage of Christopher Wynsper and Margaret Todd, at Great Ayton, Yorkshire, on November 15th 1635. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is Blue, on a gold bend, a double key. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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