This interesting and unusual surname, with variant spellings Wolstanholme, Wolstenholmes, Woolstenholme, Wostenholm, Woosnam etc., is of English locational origin from a place north west of Rochdale in Lancashire called Wolstenholme. Recorded as Wolstonholme circa 1180 and as Wlstanesholme in the 1278 Fine Court Rolls of Lancashire, the place was so called from the old English pre 7th Century personal name Wulfstan, (Medieval English "Wolstan"), a compound of the elements "wulf", wolf and "stan", a stone, plus the old Norse "holmr", an island, or dry land in a fen. The reference here is probably to slightly raised ground surrounded by streams. The surname from this source first appears on record in the latter part of the 12th Century, (see below). Locational surnames were originally given as a means of identification to the former inhabitants of a place who moved to another area, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. On September 5th 1858 William Henry Wolstenholmes, an infant, was christened in Hutton Bushel, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andrew de Wolstenholme, which was dated 1180, Baine's "History of Lancashire", 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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