this long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name either from Woodcroft, a hamlet north west of Peterborough in Northamptonshire, or from the village of Woodcraft near Chepstow in Gloucestershire. The former place, recorded as "Wudecraft" in the 1163 Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire, is so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wudu", wood, and "croft", a small piece of arable land adjacent to a house (worked by the occupier and his family), a piece of enclosed land used for tillage or pasture; hence, "croft in or by a wood". Woodcroft in Gloucestershire shares the same meaning and derivation. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. On October 7th 1582, Thomas Woodcrafte and Margarett Cowell were married at St. Michael's, Cornhill, London, and in 1584, Geoffrey Woodcrofte, weaver, married Margaret Smith in London. The name is now spelt Woodcroft and Woodcraft, and recordings of same from Gloucestershire Church Registers include: the marriage of Mary Woodcroft to Will Webb at Tirley, on October 18th 1694, and the marriage of Catherine Woodcraft to Thomas Russell at Chipping Campden, on October 3rd 1720. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ascelinus de Wudecroft, which was dated 1162, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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