This interesting and uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and represents a rare survival of an Olde English personal name, rare because very few native Anglo-Saxon names continued in use after the Norman Conquest of 1066; the introduction of a large number and variety of Continental names, such as William, Richard and Henry, led to the almost total disappearance of native given names. In this instance, however, the surname Winsper and its variant forms, ranging from Winspear, Winspar and Winspare, to Winspire and Winspur(r), derive from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name composed of the elements "wynn", joy, or "wine", friend, with "spere", spear. 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, in Great Ayton, Yorkshire, on November 15th 1635. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is azure, on a gold bend bretessed a double key of azure. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Winsper, which was dated October 25th 1544, a christening witness in Shorne, Kent, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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