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About the study
This interesting and unusual name is a variant of 'Whitcher' and derives from the Old English pre seventh Century word 'hwicce', chest, a maker of chests.
As the Old English 'wic', dwelling, dairy farm became both 'wike' and 'wiche' in Medieval English, the surname may also mean dweller at a place called 'Wich' or dairy farm. In view of the common interchange of 'wh' and 'w', this may become 'Whi(t)cher'. The name may also mean 'dweller by the wych-elm enclosure', as at Witcha Farm in Ramsbury in Wiltshire, the home of Richard atte Wycheheye in placenames of Wiltshire in 1332.
The surname first appears in records in the late 12th Century, (see below). Richard Wicher was recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Bedfordshire in 1279. Robert le Wiccher was listed in 1288, in Middle English Surnames Occupation. Elizabeth, daughter of George Whicher was christened at St. Margarets, Westminster, London in January 1603, while at Lechlade, Gloucester, Charles Wichard married Eliza Sandy on April 8th, 1614. Another recording is that of John Witchard, son of John and Elizabeth Witchard, christened at St James Church, Clerkenwell, London, on April 14th 1790. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wicher, which was dated 1176, in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, 'The Builder of Churches', 1154 - 1189.
Distribution of the name
I have recorded all of the Whitcher and variants Birth, Marriage and Death entries from the General Register Offices for England and Wales (since 1837) and I am now endeavouring to collate all references from the Census Returns from 1841 to 1911 for England, Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. When the above is completed I will be recording the same information for Scotland and Ireland, where available.
The one-name study also includes numerous entries from Parish Records, Grants of Probate from 1858 in England and Wales and any other mention of the name.
My eventual aim is to record occurrences of the name whorldwide.