The Name Wootton is said to mean Woodtown, and to denote a clearing in the forest. A forest did not originally mean a lot of trees close together, but an open space of hunting ground. The term included waste lands, woodland, and pasture. As late as 1863 a Guide to the Isle of Wight compared Wootton to a clearing in the backwoods of America, with one house to every 150 acres, and one inhabitant to each 24 acres. Another suggested derivation is Wudu-tin, the Old English for “the farm by the wood.” The suffix “ton” is the most common termination of English local names, and it indicates an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Lisle family, who became Lords of the Manor here, were surnamed “de Bosco” – of the wood, to distinguish them from the other branch of the family who settled at Gatcombe. Obviously, then, this was a “Woodytown,” as in fact may easily be seen from the number of trees all around. The Lisles’ family name is perpetuated in Lisle Court, Woodside, Wootton Creek, and it is the original form of the Island names of Leal and Lale. Before the Norman Conquest the hamlet was known as Odetone, and was held by Queen Edith, wife of King Edward the Confessor. Domesday Book reads: - “The King holds Odetone and Queen Edith held it. It was then, as now, assessed at one hide. Four villains held three ploughshares. Its value is £3.”
The following list shows that there have been 37 different ways of spelling Wootton. If we include “Woodytown” and “Wooditon,” names used by Dr. J. Whitehead in the printed papers of the Hampshire Field Club, but for which I have not found any manuscript authority, the number of variations is 39.
Remarkably enough, it is a Swedish writer, Helage Kokeritz, who has done the most exhaustive work on the place names of the Isle of Wight, and many of the following dates are from his book, though some have been corrected.
|Names and Spellings of Wootton|
|Woditone bi Westestret||13th cent||Wooton||1795|
|Wodyingtone||1320||Wootton Bridge||20th century|
The modern name, Wootton Bridge, dates apparently from the present 20th century when the ford at the creek was superseded by a bridge. The real reason for the name Wootton Bridge, however, is a Post Office one; to distinguish it from the other 19 Woottons in England. It will be seen from the list that the name Utton Bridge was in use about 1536 A.D. The earliest spelling of the modern Wootton is 1548.
Source: Helage Kokeritz Place Names of the Isle of Wight Uppsala, (1940) (Nomina Germanica, 6)This page was last edited on: 8th March, 2013 14:48:17