There are many unusual features about this surname. It is locational and its origins are Olde English, as explained below, but there does not appear to have ever been a place called 'Wolfendale'. There was in the 16th century a hamlet in Lancashire called 'Wolfendene', forming part of the parish of Newchurch-in-Rossendale. It would seem that Wolfendale, the surname, is a localised dialectal transposition of the hamlet name. The name translates as 'the valley of Wulfhelm', the later being an early baptismal name of the pre 9th century. The surname in any spelling form (and there are many), is 16th century, which strongly suggests that the original hamlet was 'cleared' under the Enclosure Acts, and the tenants scattered to whatever locality would have them. This helps to account for the different spelling forms. The surname development seems to have been from Wolfenden in 1553, to Woofendell (1687), to Wolfindale (1711) to Wolfendale in 1720 or thereabouts. Examples of the recordings (all Lancashire) include Thomas Woofendell of Cockerham on April 5th 1687, John Wolfindale of Manchester in 1711, and Mary Wolfendale, who married Peter Dennis at Manchester On July 1st 1721. The name, in any spelling, first appears in London records in 1731, when Hannah Woofendale married Edward Spiers on January 2nd. at the church of St Benets, Pauls Wharf. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wolfenden, which was dated June 1st 1553, christened at Whalley, Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as 'The Boy King', 1547 - 1554. 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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