This famous and popular English and Scottish surname is of pre 7th century Olde English origins. Recorded in several forms including Wood, Woode, Woodd, Wod, Wode and the locational Woods and Woodes, it derives from the word "wudu" meaning a forest or wood. It was originally given either as a topographical name for one who was resident by a wood, or who in the case of the plural Woods related to a person who was both resident in the wood and who obtained his livelihood from the wood, probably as a forester. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th Century (see below) and appears in a great variety of records during that century. These early examples include: Roger del Wode of Yorkshire in 1274; John Atewode of Essex, in the same year; William in le Wode of Cambridgeshire in 1279, and Henry Bythewode of Sussex, in 1296. The earliest recorded namebearer in Scotland was William Wod, a witness at Cawdor in 1295. Judy Wode was christened on October 28th 1549, at St. Margaret's church, Westminster, and Margarett, the daughter of John Wood, was christened on October 18th 1550 at St. Nicholas Acons, in the city of London. One of the earliest emigrants to the new colonies of America was John Wood, aged 26 yrs., who embarked from London on January 2nd 1634, settling in Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Walter de la Wode. This was dated 1242, in the "Fines Court" rolls of the county of Herefordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111of England, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax.
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