This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has a number of possible sources. Firstly, it may be locational from any one of the places thus called, such as those in Leicestershire; in Leeds; and the place near Saxon in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wudu", meaning wood, and "hus", house; hence, "house(s) by the wood". It may also be of topographical origin, meaning a "dweller in the house near the wood", from the same derivation. The third possibility is that it may be used to describe the "Woodwards residence", and would therefore be an occupational surname, since a woodward was someone who held the important position of warden to the woodlands owned by a prominent landholder. The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and Richard del Wodehus appears in the 1275 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk. The well known author, P.G. Wodehouse (1881 - 1975), was born into a Norfolk family whose earliest known ancestor was John de Woodhouse, who lived in Rastrick, Yorkshire at the end of the 13th Century. In 1624, William Woodhouse married Mary Ship at Cornhill, London. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name depicts a gold cross between twelve gold crosses crosslet on a red shield, the Crest being on a coronet a cross crosslet gold. The Motto, "In hoc signo", translates as, "Under this sign". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Helius de Wudehus, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire", 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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