This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Wolfenden in the parish of Newchurch-in-Rossendale, Lancashire. The placename means "Wolfhelm's valley", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wulfhelm", composed of the elements "wulf", wolf, and "helm", helmet, protection, with "denu", valley. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Wolfenden, Woolfenden, Woffenden, Woffinden, Woofenden and Wooffinden. Recordings from Lancashire Church Registers include: the marriage of James Wolfenden and Elizabeth Laughton on May 3rd 1578, in Carlton-le-Moorland; the christening of Richarde Wolfenden on June 8th 1589, at Rochdale; and the christening of Isacke, son of James Wolfenden, on September 23rd 1593, also at Rochdale. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wolfenden, which was dated June 1st 1553, christened at Whalley, Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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