Recorded as Wontner, Wonter, and Wantur, this is a very unusual Englsh medieval surname. It is occupational and originates from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'want' meaning a mole. As such it is occupational for a mole catcher. In ancient times this was not so much concerned with vermin, as the mole was not then so regarded. The hunting for moles was for their highly valued skins, moleskin being used for a variety of clothes including jackets, hats and even shoes. The first known recording of the surname in any form is given as being that of Henry le Wantur in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire in 1273. As the Hundred Rolls were concerned with people of standing, principally land owners, the appearance of this name in such a land register, at a time when status was everything suggests that Henry le Wantur was a wealthy person, or at least a person of status. Occupational surnames were amongst the first to be recognized, and they did not become hereditary until of if a son followed his father into the same line of business. If he did not, then the name died out, perhaps to be revived by somebody else, at another place and at another time.
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