The primary source of this very interesting and long-established surname is the Olde English pre 7th Century "wisdom", wisdom, learning, originally given as a nickname to a wise or learned person, or in some cases, to someone suspected of being acquainted with the occult arts. Nicknames from a sizeable group of early European surnames and were given, in the first instance, with reference to physical attributes, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress and occupation. Nicknames such as Patience and Wisdom may furthermore have been acquired by someone who had represented these abstract values in a medieval morality play. A second distinct source for the surname suggested by Lower in his "Patronymica Britannica" is an estate in Cornwood, Devonshire; recorded as "Wisdome" in 1618, and possibly as "Wymesdone" at an earlier date. Wisedom Farm in Drewsteignton, Devonshire, noted as "Wisdoms" in 1464, was probably named from an owner called Wisdom. Early forms of the name abound in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Somerset, and include: "Wysdom, Wysdam" and "Wysdem". In 1327, one Robert Wisdom was noted in the Pipe Rolls of Somerset, and in 1377, Thomas Wisdom, M.P. for Wilton, was recorded in the Close Rolls of Wiltshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Durand Wisdom, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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