This rare and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and represents a rare survival of an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name, "Wadenoth", derived from "wada", wade, a derivative of "wadan", to go, with "noth", daring, boldness; the more common form of the given name, Wade, was very popular in the early Middle Ages, due in part to the "Tale of Wade", relating to a sea-giant who was dreaded and honoured by the coast tribes of the North Sea and the Baltic. The personal name "Wadenoth" was thus meant to imply "strong and bold as Wade". The survival of an Olde English given name as a surname is rare because the Normans introduced a great number and variety of Continental personal names after the Conquest of 1066, and these were afterwards chosen over the native English names for reasons of novelty or expediency. Early examples of the surname are mostly with the later change of "a" to "o" in the first element; this was due to dialectal influences. The "Privy Purse Expenses" of Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry V11 (1485 - 1509), refer to one Thomas Woodnotte, groom, and a Richard Wodnet is listed in the Oxford University Register of 1510. The modern surname has many forms, ranging from Wo(o)dnot(t) and Woodno(r)th, to Wo(o)dnut(t), Wo(o)dnet(t) and Woodnight. Recordings of the name from Church Registers include the christening of Betteryce, daughter of Bartholomewe Woodnutt, at St. Andrew's, Chichester, Sussex, on December 8th 1576. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Wodenot, which was dated 1331, in the "Patent Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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