This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived by a willow tree. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "withig", Middle English "withy", meaning willow tree. 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. The surname is first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below). Richard atte Widege and Robert Widie appear in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire (1279). The surname may also be of locational origin for someone who lived at Withy Farm in Danehill, Sussex. Locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor or as a means of identification to those who left their place of birth to seek work elsewhere. John de Wythye (1296) and Alan atte Wythye (1332) are noted in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. In the modern idiom the surname is also found with the variant spelling Withy. On March 17th 1626, Charles Withey was christened at the Church of St. Martin-Vintry, London, and on December 16th 1632, Juell, son of John and Rose Withey, was christened at the Church of St. Andrew, Holborn, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de la Wythye, which was dated 1241, in the "Records of Somerset", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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