This most interesting and unusual surname is of Scottish origin, and is thought to be a locational name from an unidentified place so called from the Olde English, Middle English "wether", sheep, lamb and an obsolete Middle English word "spong" a dialectal term used to describe a tongue-shaped piece of land enclosed by or lying next to higher ground. The surname first appears in records in the late 13th Century (see below) and is found in the modern idiom as Weatherspoon, Wetherspoon, Wedderspoon and Witherspoon. The "Accounts of the lord high treasurer (1473 - 1566)" state that one "Widderspune the foulare that tald talis and brocht foulis to the King", received a payment in 1496. Further early recordings of the surname include a tenant of Cupar-Angus Abbey, who was named Wychthirspone, circa 1500, and a John Wyddirspwn, tenant of Dalbeth in 1518, according to the "Rental Book of the Diocese of Glasgow, 1509 - 1570". The Rev. John Witherspoon (1722 - 1794), born in Yester, became president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1768 and took an active part in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists. General William W. Wotherspoon (1850 - 1921) head of the state canal system of New York was of Scottish descent. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Wythirspon, which was dated circa 1290, in "Orignes Parochiales Scotiae: the Antiquities, ecclesiastical and territorial, of the parishes of Scotland", during the reign of Queen Margaret of Norway, Ruler of Scotland, 1286 - 1290. 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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