Recorded as Whitbred, Whitbread and Whitebread, this is an English medieval surname. It is a metonymic occupational name for a baker of the finer sorts of bread, which curiously is the one with most goodness removed! The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "hwit" meaning white, with "hwaete", meaning wheat, and "bread," one of the few words which has come down unchanged in its spelling for at least fifteen hundred years. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the occupation of the namebearer, but usually only became hereditary when a son followed his father into the same line of business. In fact there was a medieval surname Whytbredson, but this would seem to be extinct. Not surprisingly the surname is ancient, and early recordings include Roger Wythbred in the Chartulary of the Monastery of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, in 1254, and Robert Whetbred in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Sussex in 1327. Early surviving church registers of the city of London list the christening of William, the son of William Whitebread, on December 1st 1577 at St. Dionis Backchurch, and of Samuel, the son of Mathew Whitbread, on July 3rd 1603 at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a silver field, charged with a horse between three red hinds' heads erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Witbred. This was dated 1221, in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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