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Wainwright Coat of Arms / Wainwright Family Crest

Wainwright Coat of Arms / Wainwright Family Crest

The surname of WAINWRIGHT was an occupational name 'the wainwright' a maker of wagons, a cartwright. The name was derived from the Old English word 'waegnwyrhta'. Early records of the name mention Ailmar Wanrechte, 1273 County Yorkshire. Adam le Waynwright, 1332 Lancashire. Edward Waynewright, registered at Oxford University in the year 1568. Thomas Wenwright was baptised at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in 1577. Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth. A notable member of the name was Thomas Griffiths Wainwright (1794-1847) the English art critic, painter, forger, and probably poisoner, born in Chiswick. He married and soon outrunning his means, committed forgery in 1822 and 1824, and almost certainly poisoned with strychnine, his half-sister in law (1830), his uncle (1828) his mother-in-law (1830) and possibly others. The sister-in-law has been fraudulently insured for Y16,00, but two actions to enforce payment failed. He was the subject of several literary works. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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