This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been situated in Bedford, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wull", wool, or "well(a)", well, spring, stream, and "heafod", head, and also headland, summit, upper end source of stream; hence, "source of spring/stream", or "headland where wool was produced". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Woolhead, Woullhed, Wooled, Woollhed, Woolhed, Wollhead and Woollhead. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Thomas Wollhead and Agnes Harvey on November 3rd 1566, at Wootton, Bedfordshire; the marriage of Thomas Woolhead and Margaret Fisher on February 20th 1589, at Southill, Bedfordshire; and the christening of John, son of Hugh and Katherine Woollhead, on January 28th 1643, at Thonnborough, Buckinghamshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Wolled, which was dated March 8th 1563, christened at Wootton, Bedfordshire, 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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