This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be a topographical name, and derives from "Woodfern", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wudu", wood, and "fearn", fern, and denotes residence by or in a "fern wood". A second possible interpretation of the name is that it is of locational origin from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place, believed to have been situated in Cheshire, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Woodfine, Woodfen and Woodfin. Recordings of the surname from Cheshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Ann Woodfeyn and Joseph Smethurst on June 12th 1559, at Frodsham, and the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Woodfin, on February 12th 1642, at Nantwich. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joan Woodfyn, which was dated July 1540, christened at the Church of St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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