Decision on last name, can we help?

+5 votes
In going through Pre-1500 data base errors and trying to help out, I came across a number of issues that are tied up with this "family".....clearly, not just this profile.

The question is....can the community help?

I have been trying to work this out for a while, just came across an old G2G of mine....
WikiTree profile: John Atte Wode
in Genealogy Help by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (755k points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
I did do some research on this a while back and then as usual got sidetracked into something completely different.

But Janet is right, Atte just means at or near, and so John Atte Wood, just means John who lived near the wood.  Subsequently searching through websites like British History Online, it is quite a common name and trying to connect them just based on a common surname is bound to be incorrect.  Also although some of them might have developed into the surname Atwood or variations,others might have become Wood, or something else entirely.

I think in terms of naming in Wikitree,  I would continue to follow the Euroaristo/medieval guidelines and use Wood as the Last name at birth, and Atte Wood as the current last name.  Then Atwood or whatever could be in other last names?
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
selected by Darlene Athey-Hill

I assumed the Atwoods were connected to Sanderstead since many of profiles connected John have it as their birth/death place. The parish church has monumental brass to John Atte Wood's current son John and his wife 'Dyones'. His grandfather Peter was connected to the nearby village of Coulsdon and Hooley House and Wood Place.

It's an interesting case because the family appears relatively well off but as Ron W. mentions they don't appear in county visitations so they may not have had coats of arms until Harmon. The variations in the surname also point to a lower status and the Surrey Archaeological Collection refers to them as a yeoman family. Some of the members are in the Manning/Bray History of Surrey v. ii pp.570-573 (but no full view). Some sources I consulted had the family members working in the Royal Household, Peter's grandfather William Atte Wode was a yeoman Captain of the King's Guard, later descendants were Sergeants or in the Stables - none sound like gentry occupations to me.

Just to clear this up as there is a merge pending on this topic.  As John mentions, the name is middle English, of Saxon origin.  Atte is a prefix meaning of or in and wode is a middle English word which we would recognise today as wood.  See Bosworth's work; Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon language.   In Euroaristo we would drop the prefix and the surname would be either Wode or Wood.  Given the date of the profile, the name Wode would be preferred as it is the name that would have been in use at the time. ( is Wode).  According to Chaucer's works on the middle English language the word "wood" refers to madness, often associated with rage.  Thus Wode would e a better name to reflect the date of the profile.
0 votes

In the absence of any meaningful source,likely we will never know.

The "Visitations" are silent.

The BIOS has his residence in 1928, at the alleged age of  528 as USA.

Parish records of my surname, "Woodhouse" from the 1700's vary but include Wodehouse/Wodehurst/Wodehuse. 

Perhaps we need to consider the middle name "Atte"; probaby of Nordic/Finnish origin. (

Perhaps a modern name interpretation would be:


We will never know!

by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
"Atte" is just Old/Middle English for "at".

In a name if means "from" or "lives near", similar to "de" in Norman names.
0 votes

If he's really the ancestor of the Sanderstead Atwoods, their seat from the 15th century, then I'd go with Atwood. He's the 2nd ggf of Harmon (who is mentioned below)

See BHO - 


by Kirk Hess G2G6 Mach 6 (64.8k points)

Sanderstead Court (wikipedia) was their family home, I didn't know that Atte was the English version of de. - the spelling changes from Atte Wood to Atwood in the next generation. If this was a Norman name the LNAB would be 'Wood'.

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