This name, with variant spellings Wo(u)lfe, Wolf, Woolf(e), Wulf(f), Wolf(f), and Ulph, derives from the Olde Norse byname Ulfr (Olde Swedish, Ulf) meaning 'Wolf'. Ulf was the name of King Canute's (1016 - 1035) sister's husband. It appears as Ulfus in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname is first recorded in the early part of the 12th Century, (see below). One, Robert Vlf and a Robert Wulf were entered in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk and London respectively in 1166. In the 13th and 14th Centuries the surname was frequently written with the article 'le' as in John le Wlf (Sussex, 1273) and John le Wolf (Bedfordshire, 1279). London church records include Agnis, daughter of John Woolff, who was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, on March 4th 1592. Edward Woolf married Grace Jones at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, on January 8th 1698 and Ann, daughter of Abraham and Ann Woolf, was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, on February 6th 1725. One Patrick Woolf, aged 20 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the ship the "Virginian" bound for New York on April 20th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alwinus Wlf, which was dated circa 1125, 'the Kalendar of Bury St. Edmunds', Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 1, The Lion of Justice, 1100 - 1135. 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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