This very unusual and interesting Kentish surname is of Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century origins. It is a topographical surname which originally described one who lived in an area of wooded land, but later the complete opposite! Found in the variant forms of Wildish and Wildash, and at various times recorded as Wyldysh, Wyldish and Weildish, the derivation is directly from the Olde English 'wealdisc', an adjective derivative of 'weald', itself similar to the Old High German 'wald'. After the extensive clearances of forests in England before the Norman Conquest of 1066, the term 'w(e)ald' came to be used to denote open uplands (wolds) and grazing lands not brought into cultivation. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, (Hill, Field, Hedge, River, etc) since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. Early examples of the surname recording include Robert de Weldysh in the 1317 Feet of Fines roll for the county of Kent, and John Wealdisshe of the same county in the 1327 pipe rolls. Later recordings from the church registers include the marriage of Allen Wildish and Joan Glorish on November 10th 1583 at Cranbrook, Kent, the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of John Wildish, on April 18th 1607 at St. Mary's, Stoke Newington, London; and the marriage of Anthony Wildash to Sarah Parker, at Rochester, Kent, on December 18th 1750. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Weldisse, which was dated 1292, of Wildage Farm, Elham, Kent, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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