This ancient English surname of WICKLIFF was a locational name meaning 'one who came from WYCLIFFE' in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The name was brought into England by early settlers from Scandinavia in the form WHIT -CLIF, literally meaning the dweller at the cliffs on a bend. The Scandinavian element in English place names is very considerable. It is an outcome of the extensive Scandinavian settlements made in England from the latter half of the ninth century onwards. They were mostly Danes, but in the north-western parts of the country such as Cheshire, Lancashire, Westmorland, Cumberland and West Yorkshire, the settlers were mostly Norwegians. Many English names adopted by Scandinavians were changed in form to conform better to Scandinavian habits of speech. The name is also spelt WYCLIFFE, WYCLIFF, WICKLIFFE and WICKLYFF. The earliest of the name on record appears to be WIGECLIF (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1050 and WITCLIUE was documented in the Domesday Book of 1086. WYCHECLIF was documented in the year 1260. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. The most notable of the name was John WYCLIFFE (circa.1329-1384) the English religious reformer, born near Richmond in Yorkshire, probably of a family which held the manor of WYCLIFFE on Tees. He distinguished himself at Oxford where he was a popular teacher. In 1360 he was master of Balliol College, but resigned soon afterwards on taking the college living of Fillingham, which he exchanged in 1368 for Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire. During his lifetime he attacked the papacy and asserted the right of everyman to examine the Bible for himself. He instituted the first translation into English of the whole Bible, himself translating the Gospels, and probably other parts.
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