This interesting surname is of medieval English origins.Widely recorded in church registers from the early 16th Century under the various spellings of Witherdon, Witherden, Wetherdon, and Whetherdon, it is a locational name from either the village of Witherdon in Devon, or possibly Witherenden, a "lost" village in Sussex. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "wither", meaning a wether or male sheep, and "denn", a pasture. "Denn or denu" were widespread as second elements of placenames, and it is often difficult to distinguish names ending in "-denn" from those ending in "-denu", the latter element meaning "a dene" or "valley". Locational surnames 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. Examples of the name spelling taken from the various registers include on September 27th 1585, Elizabeth Witherden, christened at St. Laurence, Thanet, Kent, and on July 1st 1599, the christening of Joanna Weatherdon took place in Bovey Tracey, Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Johis Weatherdon, which was dated 1539, a witness at a christening at Bovey Tracey, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation.
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