This curious surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a dialectal variant of the more familiar Wolstencroft, itself a locational name from Wolstancroft in Lancashire, so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Wulfstan", a compound of the elements "wulf", wolf, and "stan", stone, and "croft", a piece of enclosed land used for tillage or pasture, a small piece of arable land adjacent to a house (usually worked by the occupier and his family); hence, "Wulfstan's croft". This personal name also forms the initial element of Wolstenholme, a village in the same area of south Lancashire, and of Wolstanton in Staffordshire. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently produced several variations on the original spelling of the name which, in the modern idiom, is found as: Wolstencroft, Wolstoncroft, Worsencroft, Worstencroft, Wosencroft, Wozencroft and Wozencraft. On December 12th 1542, Anne Wolstencroft was christened at Middleton by Oldham, Lancashire, and on January 23rd 1621, the christening of Winifride, daughter of Roger and Mary Wozencraft, took place at St. Andrew's Holborn, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wustencroft, which was dated 1524, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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