This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from a minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place called Wedgwood, believed to have been situated in the parish of Wolstanton (Staffordshire), because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that county. The component elements of the placename are the Olde English pre 7th Century "wice", wych elm, and "wudu", wood; hence, "wych elm wood". The prime cause of medieval village disappearances was the enforced clearing of rural settlements, and the consequent dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 14th Century on, along with natural causes, such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The famous family of pottery makers bearing this name traces its descent from Stephen de Wedgewood (below). They settled in Burslem in 1612, and in 1769, Josiah Wedgewood opened new pottery works at Etruria, a village he had built by his workmen. His son, Thomas Wedgewood (1771 - 1805), was known as "the first photographer". A Coat of Arms granted to the Wedgewood family in 1576 is described thus: "Gules, four mullets argent, a canton of the last. Crest - On a ducal coronet gold, a lion passant silver". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen de Wedgewood, which was dated 1358, in "Medieval Records of Brerehurst", Staffordshire, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.