This is a medieval locational surname which derives from the village of Woolcot in the county of Somerset. The origin is Olde English pre 10th century, and the name has nothing whatsoever to do with sheep. The derivation is from the words "waella" meaning a spring (water) plus "cot" - a dwelling house of some consequence. The name has travelled widely around the world and is now found in such forms as Walcott, Wollcot, Woollcot, and even Woolcock, a tribute to the diversity of English dialect - and spelling! This type of locational surname developed after the original village was cleared, either through natural causes such as plague or more usually when the landlord obtained enclosure rights over the common lands, forcing the tenants to leave, or at least the majority of them. When this happened the "emigrants" took as their identity the name of their former village, and as few could spell, new forms of the name were quickly in evidence. The name attained significance abroad particularly in the new United States, Oliver Wolcott (1726 - 1797) being one of the original signatories to the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. He was the great, great grandson of Henry Wolcott, an original settler recorded before 1635 in Virginia. Other recordings of the surname include Mary Woolcott who married Henry Jenkins at Bicknoler, Somerset on July 1st 1590, and John Woolacott, son of John and Sarah Woolacott, christened at St Mary Le Bone, London on December 10th 1794. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Wolcott, which was dated September 5th 1569, married Austis Harris at Wiveliscombe, Somerset, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "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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