Recorded in several spellings including Woodhouse, Woodiss, Woodus, Wodehouse, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It has a two possible origins. Firstly, it may be locational from any one of the places called Woodhouse, such as those in Leicestershire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The placename derives from the pre 7th Century words "wudu", meaning wood, and "hus", a house; and hence the house by the wood. A second possibility is that it described a house where the forester or wood wards lived and making the surname occupational for someone who held the important position of warden to the woodlands. The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and Richard del Wodehus appears in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk in 1275. 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. A coat of arms associated with the name depicts a gold cross between twelve gold crosses crosslet on a red shield, the crest being a coronet. 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. This 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 sometimes 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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