This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wulfnoth", Middle English "Wo(o)lnoth, Wulnod" and "Wulnaugh". The name is composed of the Olde English elements "wulf", wolf, and "noth", bravery or daring; hence, "wolf-daring". Although not common, the personal name remained in use until the beginning of the 14th Century, and is mainly recorded in East Anglian counties. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the given name appeared as "Wlnod, Vlnoth" and "Vlnoht". Robert Wolthnoth is listed in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, and Thomas Wolnoth is noted in the Suffolk Feet of Fines (1348). In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Woolner, Woolnoth, Wollnough and Wolfner. The "er" of Woolner and Wolfner represents the pronunciation of unaccented "nough". Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Agnes Wolnor and Robert Page on October 6th 1567, at Knettishall, Suffolk; the christening of Margery, daughter of Peeter Woolnar, at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London, on December 6th 1569; and the marriage of John Woolner and Catherine Hanfane in Suston, Suffolk, in 1586. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wulnoth, which was dated 1221, in the "Charters of Ely", Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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