The surname of WENTWORTH was a locational name 'of Wentworth' in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Robert de Winterwyth, 1219, Yorkshire. Johannes Wyntworth, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Paul Wetnworthe of County Buckinghamshire, registered at Oxford University in the year 1586. Peter Wentworth of Northampton, 1610, ibid. William Wentworth (1793-1872), known as the 'Australian Patriot' because of his advocacy of Australian self-government, was a lawyer and proprietor of the newspaper 'The Australian'. His mother had been transported in 1788 (for stealing clothes) and had travelled on the same ship as his father, D'Arcy Wentworth. The latter was a physician who had been tried but acquitted on charges of highway robbery. He nevertheless took passage to Botany Bay, where he played a leading role in the development of New South Wales. He was born near Portadown in Ireland; the Irish Wentworth's had been established in the reign of Charles II by the Irish agent to Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon; they had owned land at Fyanstown Castle, County Meath, but had declined in prosperity by the 18th century. Their further ancestry has been traced to Robert Wentworth of Woodhouse in Yorkshire, living in the 13th century. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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