This interesting surname of English origin with variant spellings Wolsey, Woolsey, Woosey, etc. derives from the Middle English given name "Wulsi", Old English pre 7th Century "Wulfsige", composed of the elements "wulf" meaning "wolf" plus "sige", "victory". The personal name was widespread in Suffolk where it gave rise to the surname of Cardinal Wolsey (1475-1530). It may also be a nickname for a person with wolf-like eyes. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one William Wulsy (1219) "The Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", and Richard Wolsy (1313), "The Feet of Fines of Essex". Church recordings include one Edmund Wolsey who married Alice Smith, Alyce, daughter of William Wolsey, was christened on June 20th 1570, also at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and Jane, daughter of William Woolsey, was christened on June 30th 1614, at St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Wulfesege, which was dated 1168, The Pipe Rolls of Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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