This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two distinct possible sources. In the overwhelming majority of cases it is a topographical name for someone who lived in or by a wood, or a metonymic occupational name for a woodcutter or forester. The derivation in this instance is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wudu", Middle English "wode", wood. Walter de la Wode is noted in the 1242 Feet of Fines of Herefordshire, and John del Wode is listed in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire (1274).Secondly, the surname may originate from the Olde English "wod", Middle English "wod(e), wood", mad, frenzied, wild, and would have been a nickname for a mad or eccentric person. To quote Shakespeare: "And here I am, and wood within this wood". Richard Wod is listed in the 1230 Pipe Rolls of Somerset. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Wood, Woodd, Woode, Woods, Wod, Wode and Woodes. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Margery Woodes and John Stone on February 2nd 1600, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney; the christening of Thomas, son of Thomas Woodes, on August 14th 1610, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster; and the marriage of Thomas Woodes and Lee Webb, at St. Gregory by St. Paul, on December 7th 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam le Wode, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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