One of the unusual characteristics of the English surnames is the ability to develop a compound form where the elements have the same meaning. In this case, we have (apparently), the Olde English pre 7th Century "Wudu" and the 8th Century Anglo-Saxon "Worp", both meaning "wood". However, as we have not been able to positively identify any such place as "Woodworth", the nearest being "Wudutorp" (now Woodthorp, in Derbyshire), the origin placename cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore, the Anglo-Saxon official title of Wood-ward, the Forester in charge of the woodlands, has produced many alternative spellings, of which "Woodworth" could be one.However, what is certain is that name in its "modern" spellings has been with us unchanged for over four hundred years, that in itself being a rarity! The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Woodworth, which was dated August 12th 1560, married Elizabeth Gallant at St. Thomas the Apostle, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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