This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon locational origin from a place thus called near Pontefract, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wilmerslege". The placename derives from the genitive case of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wilmaer" (composed of the elements "willa" meaning will or desire, "maer" famous plus "leah" a wood or clearing). It has also been suggested that the first part of the name may alternatively be composed of the elements "wil(i)g" a willow plus "mere" a pond or lake; hence "clearing at the willow trees by the pond". The surname is first recorded in the mid 16th Century (see below). In the modern idiom, the surname has many variant spellings including Wormsley, Womsley, Wamsley, and Walmsley. On November 15th 1585, John Womersley married Grace Dickson at Halifax, Yorkshire; Thomas, son of Matthew Womersley was christened at St. Peter's, Leeds, on October 21st 1621; and the marriage of William Womersley and Alice Firth took place at Bradford, Yorkshire on May 7th 1626. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Wamesley, which was dated June 30th 1550, marriage to Jone Godwyn, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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