This intriguing surname is of medieval English and Scottish origins. It was not a nickname, but residential and as such it described a person who either lived at a place called Woodhead, of which there are at least four examples in the British Isles, or it was topographical for somebody who lived at the head of a wood. It is is particularly well recorded in the county of Yorkshire, probably because of the village of Woodhead on the boundary with Cheshire. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century words "wudu", meaning a wood or forest, and "heafod", the head. Amongst the early recordings was that of Abraham Woodhead (1609 - 1658). Educated at Oxford University, he was tutor to George Villiers (1627 - 1687), the second Duke of Buckingham, and one of the foremost rakes of his day, whilst in the surviving recordings of the city of London is that of William Woodhead, who married Margaret Birckhead on October 3rd 1686, at St. Lukes Chelsea. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edward de Wodheved. This was dated 1243, in the Assize Court rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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