This unusual and interesting surname has two possible origins. The first of these is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "Wuduwasa", Middle English (1200 - 1500) "Wodewese", meaning a "wild man of the woods" or a faun or satyr, and could have been applied as a nickname to one who dressed as such a character in the frequent medieval pageants. The derivation is from "wudu", wood and "wasa" of obscure origin but usually taken to mean "wild creature". The variant spellings here are Woodiwiss, Widdiwiss and Wood(d)isse. The last spelling of the name can also be a variant of the locational name Woodhouse, from "wudu", wood and "hus", house of which there are examples in many counties in England, including Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. The name means "dweller at the house in the wood". An early recording of the name is that of Robert de Wudewuse, from the Yorkshire Assize Court Rolls of 1251, The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Helias de Wudehus, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Henry 1, 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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